Does a Seat Belt Make Car Accident Injuries Worse?

Attorney Mark Rufo PC

Many states have laws requiring the use of seat belts. This safety device prevents ejection from a vehicle during an accident or reduces the severity of injury during an impact.

While there is plenty of data to support the prevention of car accident fatalities by wearing a seat belt, wearing this restraint is not without its own problems.

Understanding seat belt syndrome

As incidents concerning seat belt injuries came to light, researchers coined the term seat belt syndrome to describe the pattern of injuries. When a person’s body slams against the seat belt strap, the force behind the impact causes damage.

Although the damage is usually less severe than ejecting from the vehicle or slamming into the dashboard, high-velocity accidents can leave an accident victim with brutal injuries. Some of the more common injuries that occur and lead to fatalities include:

  • A ruptured aorta
  • A ruptured heart
  • Lung lacerations
  • Bilateral lung contusions

In less severe incidents, bruising, broken ribs and skin abrasions are common.

Getting treatment for seat belt syndrome

Many injuries related to this syndrome experience delayed symptoms. Accident victims should never refuse medical attention since pain or discomfort could start hours, weeks or months after the crash. Early intervention can prevent seat belt injuries from leading to death or a permanent disability. Any feelings of tenderness and signs of redness or bruising need medical attention.

In addition to the injuries caused by a collision with another vehicle, wearing a seat belt can create additional injury concerns. Even with this risk, you reduce your fatality risk and devasting injuries when you wear your seat belt.