Injuries From Seat Belts in Car Accidents

The paradox of injuries from seat belts in car accidents can certainly be confusing. How can the same device that prevents us from flying through the windshield in a motor vehicle crash or collision also, at the same time, be capable of causing severe harm to our bones and internal organs? If you suffered from Seat Belt Syndrome injuries following a car accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Stabinski Law (305) 643-3100 for a free consultation to learn if you have the legal right to compensation for your losses.

What Is Seat Belt Syndrome?

Seat Belt Syndrome refers to the injuries caused by seat belts that may or may not be noticed by the victim following a car accident. It is important that even minor abrasions or signs of discomfort receive a full medical examination after a motor vehicle accident in case of serious damage to internal organs or vertebrae.

As reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, seat belts create injuries to the body by transferring blunt force trauma from forceful restraint of vehicle passengers. The group of possible injuries is quite large, and many seat belt afflictions are both common and severe.

Most Serious and Common Injuries from Seat Belts

Ironically, the seat belts that are intended to help save lives can also cause considerable damage. The following are the most serious and common injuries from seat belts as a result of a car accident.

Cuts, Wounds, Scrapes, and Marks

The most common injuries from seat belts in car accidents are cuts, wounds, scrapes, and marks from the actual seat belt pressure on the skin during sudden and violent stops. However, these injuries may not just be minor surface wounds, and they may signal internal damage. A full medical examination is critical. Additionally, wounds and cuts that are surface injuries should be cleaned immediately to prevent infection.


Bruised or fractured ribs caused by seat belt restraints are very common and exceptionally painful. The pain from this type of injury may last for months. It is essential to get immediate professional medical help even if you think your ribs are just bruised. You may actually have suffered a broken rib that could puncture a lung, which can be very serious.


A sore chest from a shoulder belt after a car accident is common and may not result in any serious or life-threatening injuries. However, if the pain includes the center chest bone – the sternum – this type of seat belt injury can be hazardous as your lungs and heart could be damaged. Getting an x-ray after a motor vehicle accident is crucial to know that you are not suffering from internal injuries. Additionally, this type of injury could result in an aortic dissection, which can result in death.


During a sudden stop, the pressure from a seat belt commonly causes some stomach or waist pain. Yet this type of injury can result in more than discomfort and abdominal skin bruising, as it may actually indicate internal bleeding or intestinal damage. Another severe result may be lumbar damage to the spine from the lap belt section of the seat belt. Obtaining a full medical evaluation by a professional is important to ensure that there are no life-threatening injuries present


Of course, any head injury should be taken seriously and receive medical attention. The most common type of car crash seatbelt head injury is a concussion – often caused by the driver hitting their head on the steering wheel or the front-seat passenger encountering the dashboard. There are many different types of head and brain injuries, some of which are life-threatening.


Although painful, soft tissue, tendon, or muscle damage to the shoulder caused by the force of seat belt pressure in an accident may not be life-threatning. The first thing to do is apply ice to the area to reduce inflammation. Physical therapy is often needed to help restore the damaged shoulder. Again, it is always important to see the advice of a medical professional after any car accident.


Whiplash, so named because the head and neck are whipped back and forth in a vehicle collision, is extremely common after a motor vehicle accident. Insufficiently designed shoulder belts can cause whiplash so severe that the victim may be unable to move their neck and be in a great deal of pain. Consider meeting with the experienced personal injury lawyers at Stabinski Law for a free consultation to determine if the seat belt injuries you suffered could qualify for compensation.

Defective and Malfunctioning Seat Belts

In some instances, a defective and/or malfunctioning seat belt can cause injuries. Some of the most common signs that a seat belt may be defectively designed or offers insufficient protection:

  • The belt clasp function breaks open instead of staying latched.
  • The seat belt places undue pressure on the body during impact causing internal damage.
  • The negligent design of a shoulder belt strap crosses the sternum rather than centers it and is designed to rest on the neck.

If you suffered injuries as a result of a defective and/or malfunctioning seat belt, you may have the legal right to pursue justice against the retailer, manufacturer, or supplier.

What To Do if You Suffered Seat Belt Injuries

As with any motor vehicle accident, you should call the police to report the accident and exchange driver information. Always get professional medical assistance and a full examination as soon as possible after any kind of car accident. If you feel you received a seat belt injury, what appears to be pressure marks could instead indicate internal damage. Also, many car accident victims are in shock and may not feel the pain that warns of a more profound injury until much later. Additionally, if the untreated condition gets worse, it may reach a life-threatening level – such as in the case of a rib fracture puncturing a lung.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney To Learn More About Your Legal Rights

If you suffered any kind of injuries or losses after a car accident, consider contacting the experienced personal injury attorneys at Stabinski Law at (305) 643-3100 for a free consultation. Seat belt injuries can result in weeks, months, or permanent damage. In some cases, seat belt injuries result in death. Our experienced and compassionate legal team can help you understand all of your legal options and can help ensure your legal rights are protected under the law. We look forward to visiting with you and helping you understand your legal rights.

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