What You Need to Know About Seat Belt Injuries in California

Seat belts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes are designed to protect the driver and passenger of an automobile. However, safety systems can be defective or malfunction in a car accident. As such, serious seat belt injuries are not uncommon in automobile accidents. The use of seat belts is associated with a unique injury profile collectively termed “the seat belt syndrome.” Injuries can range from minor to serious such as bone fractures or breaks, brain injury, paralysis, or death.

You will need to speak to a Sacramento car accident lawyer to get help with medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, and financial compensation for pain and suffering. The goal is to get an early diagnosis of seat belt injuries to start the best treatment possible and document injuries for a claim against the responsible party.

How I Can Help You

I help clients secure financial compensation for their injuries. Specifically, I help injured clients recover compensation from insurance companies, negligent drivers, and other liable parties.

The first step to financial recovery is a free consultation. Call my office at (916) 270-6880 Monday – Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM to learn more about your personal injury rights and damages.

Symptoms of a Seatbelt Injury

Wearing a seat belt can save you from severe injuries such as ejection or impact with the dashboard; however, seat belt usage can also lead to injuries. Some drivers and passengers will only experience bruising and soreness after a crash, but some high-velocity impacts can cause serious injury even if seatbelts were used:

  • Skin Abrasions:  Commonly found across the lower abdomen or extending diagonally across the chest and neck. 
  • Skeletal Injuries: The most common car accident damages. Rib, sternal, or clavicle fractures are not particularly severe injuries in and of themselves, because of their location near the heart and lungs. 
  • Soft-Tissue and Visceral Injuries:  Tears, ruptures, and perforations in the abdominal area are the most common significant injuries caused by seat belts. 
  • Vascular Injuries: Although rare, in some cases, the force of the collision can cause thoracic aortic tears (a rip in the body’s largest artery) in the most forceful collisions.

The most common sign of injury is seat-belt-shaped bruising across the chest, stomach, and neck accompanied with chest pain, stiffness, or difficulty breathing. More subtle symptoms include:

  • Changes in the ability to urinate or move the bowels and/or blood in the urine or stool.
  • Coughing or vomiting blood.
  • Dizziness, weakness, or pale, wet skin.
  • Leg weakness.
  • Labored or painful breathing and chest or back pain.
  • Neck pain or stiffness.

What to Do After a Seat Belt Injury

The first thing you should do is get a medical evaluation by a medical doctor at a hospital or clinic so that you can receive the care you need. The facility must take the appropriate scans or x-rays. This is a crucial step in diagnosing delayed or missed intestinal injuries.

While seeking and receiving treatment, it is important to keep records of any medical appointments, time missed from work, personal journal recording pain, and discomfort.

What Does it Cost to Hire a California Seatbelt Injury Attorney?

Typically, most personal injury attorneys in California represent clients on a “contingency basis.” This means that there is no upfront fee, and your personal injury attorney does not charge for services unless the case is resolved.

When you or a loved one has suffered an injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, or the wrongful death of a loved one. Depending on your case, there may be other compensation options available as well. Keep in mind that insurance companies have an attorney working on their side. Their goal is always to attempt to reach the lowest settlement possible. Contact a personal injury attorney who can help you create a legal strategy to recover physically, emotionally, and financially.

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