Because car accidents continue to be a leading cause of both death and serious injury among Americans of all ages, it is wise to wear your seat belt every time you are in a motor vehicle. After all, according to the National Safety Council, seat belts have saved nearly 375,000 lives since 1975.
While your seat belt decreases your chances of dying and suffering catastrophic injuries, it also can be dangerous. When your torso pushes against a locked seat belt, you may develop seat belt syndrome. This condition can range in severity from minor to life-threatening.
A collection of injuries
Unlike a medical diagnosis for a specific condition, seat belt syndrome refers to a host of belt-related injuries. These injuries may include one or more of the following:
- Muscle tears, sprains or strains
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ injuries
- Broken bones
The importance of a medical evaluation
The clearest indicator of possible seat belt syndrome is a belt-shaped bruise across your midsection. While this bruise may be nothing to worry about, it also may indicate potentially life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, you may not be able to tell the difference.
Going to the emergency room for a complete medical workup makes sense. After all, not only do ER doctors know how to identify serious trauma, but they also have access to a variety of diagnostic tools. If your seat belt syndrome is serious, ER physicians can arrange for appropriate care.
Ultimately, even though a trip to the ER can be expensive, you may be able to pursue financial compensation to help you pay for your treatment.