Louisiana requires drivers and passengers in vehicles to wear seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. Children must be secured in a car seat or child safety seat that is approved for the child based on the child’s age, weight, and height. Most states now have seat belt laws that require some or all passengers in vehicles to wear seat belts. The NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved 14,668 lives in 2016. Therefore, it is usually the safest option to wear your seat belt when you are riding in a vehicle.
However, some people suffer from seat belt syndrome after a car accident. The injury can cause serious symptoms that should be evaluated by a physician.
What is Seat Belt Syndrome?
When you wear a seat belt, the belt crosses your abdomen and your chest. During a collision, the seat belt tightens around your abdomen and chest to prevent your body from being thrown forward or from the vehicle. However, the strong, sudden compression can cause injuries to the internal organs and the abdominal wall.
Because symptoms and signs of seat belt syndrome may not manifest until days after an accident, the injury often goes undiagnosed. Failing to diagnose and treat seat belt syndrome can result in serious injuries, including infections and organ failure.
Symptoms and Injuries of Seat Belt Syndrome
Some of the symptoms of seat belt syndrome can be confused with other injuries. However, if you suffer any of the following symptoms following a car crash, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible:
- Muscle strains and/or bruising around the abdomen
- Changes in bowel movements or urination
- Coughing up blood or vomiting
- Blood in urine or stools
- Skin discoloration or swelling that does not go away in a few days
- Difficulty breathing
- Bleeding and constipation
- Weakness or dizziness
- Abdominal pain or chest pain
Because there may not be any other symptoms other than some bruising at first, a doctor may not immediately consider seat belt syndrome as the source of your symptoms. However, injuries to the bladder, small bowels, stomach, kidneys, colon, bladder, and spine can cause serious and life-threatening conditions.
If you continue to exhibit any of the above symptoms and your doctor has not considered seat belt syndrome, request a CT scan or a FAST (focused abdominal sonography in trauma) to determine if there are any injuries to your internal organs. In some cases, a laparotomy may be required to diagnose some injuries associated with seat belt syndrome.
Compensation for Seat Belt Syndrome After a New Orleans Car Accident
If you sustained injuries because of seat belt syndrome, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you must have medical evidence and documentation of the injury. Therefore, it is crucial for your health and your insurance claim that you continue to demand diagnostic tests if you continue to suffer unexplained symptoms after a car accident.
If you have questions about filing an insurance claim for injuries sustained in a car accident, call Attorney Fred Olinde of The Olinde Firm. Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical expenses, loss of income, emotional suffering, physical pain, and other damages.