Seat belts are an essential safety measure when it comes to vehicles. According to the NHTSA, 51% of car accident deaths in recent years were a result of passengers or drivers not wearing their seat belts.
However, though seat belts are generally considered safe, reduce the risk of death, and are legally required in most states, they can at times also cause injuries when a collision occurs. This is because while seat belts are designed to restrain your body to prevent you from being thrown from the vehicle, the pressure of the seat belt against your body can cause injuries.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the seat belt injuries a person can sustain in a car accident, the symptoms of a seat belt injury, how to avoid seat belt injuries, and what kind of compensation you can get for car accident seat belt injuries.
If you have further questions or concerns about a seat belt injury after being in a car accident in Maryland, contact the personal injury experts at Zirkin & Schmerling Law.
Common Seat Belt Injuries From Car Accidents
Seat belt injuries can occur on various parts of the body, but a seat belt injury to chest areas is most common. In fact, the majority of chest injuries that occur result from car accidents.
Below are the most common seat belt injuries seen in victims suffering after a car accident:
- Rib fractures
- Pulmonary and myocardial contusions
- Sternum fractures
- Chest bruising and skin abrasions
- Internal abdominal organ damage
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Vascular injuries
- Tendon and muscle tears
Signs and Symptoms of Car Accident Seat Belt Injuries
The most common sign of a seat belt injury is tenderness in the chest area accompanied by bruising or abrasions. You may also experience soreness or pain when breathing, laying down, or moving the neck or shoulders.
However, no matter how severe or mild the symptoms are, you must seek immediate medical attention. Internal damage to organs or bones is not always immediately apparent, but if these injuries are left untreated, they can result in complications.
Overall, the signs and symptoms to look out for that can indicate a seat belt injury include:
- Bruising and abrasions across the chest, abdomen, shoulders, or neck
- Tenderness in the chest, abdomen, neck, or shoulders
- Difficulty breathing or pain when breathing
- Soreness or pain when lying down
- Pain or stiffness when moving the abdomen, arms, or neck
Serious signs that could indicate a more severe injury and internal damage can include:
- Dizziness or weakness
- Sweating, chills, and pale skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in bowels or ability to urinate
- Blood in stools or urine
- Leg weakness or numbness
- Labored, painful breathing
How to Avoid a Seat Belt Injury
While a seat belt injury can happen to anyone, they most commonly occur when the seat belt is not worn or fitted properly. So to reduce your chances of suffering from a seat belt injury after a car accident, you should:
- Make sure your seat belt is worn in the correct position.
- Pull the seat belt across your chest to secure it and ensure it is snug but not too tight or uncomfortable.
- Ensure the seat belt sits across your chest and torso and is not resting against your neck or shoulder.
- Sit up straight while wearing your seat belt, and do not recline too far back.
- Make sure the part of the belt that goes across your lower half sits across your hip bones, not your stomach.
- Always wear both the chest strap as well as the lap belt.
Maryland Seat Belt Injury Settlements
Maryland is an at-fault state, which means if another driver caused the accident that resulted in your seat belt injury, you can file a personal injury claim against them to recover compensation for your damages. However, there is no way to know upfront how much money your settlement will be worth, as various factors can play a role in how much money you are owed.
Damages that can affect your settlement amount include:
- Cost of medical treatments
- Lost wages from time off work while recovering
- Property damages (such as car damage)
- How much you are physically in pain and suffering
- How much your emotional state has been affected by the accident and your injury
When you file a personal injury claim, you are essentially filing against the at-fault party’s insurance, so how much you recover can also depend on their insurance policy limits. In Maryland, drivers are required to carry the following minimum coverage:
- $30,000 for bodily injury
- $60,000 for bodily injury of two or more people
- $15,000 for property damage
Have a Legal Question About a Personal Injury? We Have Answers.
If you sustain a seat belt injury after a car accident in Maryland, it’s important that you get in contact with a local personal injury attorney. Getting the settlement, you deserve to help you cover all your losses and expenses can be challenging, especially if the insurance company tries to offer you a quick, reduced settlement. With a lawyer, however, you will have someone who can help you navigate your claim and fight for your rights to ensure you are awarded the full and fair settlement you deserve.
At Zirkin and Schmerling Law, our compassionate team has experience handling a wide variety of car accident cases, including those involving seat belt injuries. We are dedicated to ensuring each and every one of our clients gets the best possible outcome.
Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our personal injury attorneys today.