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Wearing your seat belt every time you drive makes a great deal of sense. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that seat belts dramatically reduce an individual’s chances of sustaining a serious injury or dying in a car crash. Furthermore, North Carolina law requires all drivers and many passengers to buckle up.

While it is impossible to refute the notion that seat belts save lives, they can also contribute to life-altering injuries. Seat belt syndrome sometimes happens when a car’s seat belt compresses a person’s midsection during an automobile crash. Unfortunately, in addition to contributing to back injuries, seat belt syndrome may include serious internal injuries.

Common seat belt injuries 

Modern vehicles have three-point seat belts that pull over a person’s shoulder and around the waist. During a sudden deceleration, the seat belt holds the driver or passenger securely in place. In doing so, however, it may cause injuries to the stomach, kidneys, liver, bladder, intestines or spine.

Typical symptoms 

Following any type of car crash, you may expect to feel some soreness. You may also have bruising where your seat belt pushed against your torso. While these symptoms may not cause you much concern, other symptoms may indicate serious injuries:

  • Bloody stool
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dizziness, nausea or vomiting
  • Muscular weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Internal pain
  • Irregular bowel movements

Urgent treatment 

Car crashes tend to be stressful events. To cope with an increase in anxiety, your body releases certain stress hormones. Unfortunately, this response may mask injury symptoms. That is, you may not realize that you have sustained a serious injury until hours, days or even weeks after a collision. Therefore, it is vital to seek emergency medical treatment following a collision.

While wearing your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a vehicle is an effective way to minimize your chances of suffering a serious injury in a crash, your seat belt may cause problems. By understanding seat belt syndrome and watching for its symptoms to appear, you boost your odds of recovering completely after a collision.