Seat belts can cause injuries in car accidents. This class of injury is called seat belt syndrome and can lead to hospital time and medical expenses. Injuries sustained during a car accident can be compensated for with an insurance claim or lawsuit. A lawyer can review your injuries and advise you on your best next steps.
Types of Seat Belt Injuries
Seat belt injuries were first documented by researchers in 1962. Researchers noted a tell-tale bruising across the abdomen, dubbed a “seat belt sign”. This type of bruising can indicate the presence of other injuries, including:
- Skin abrasions
- Internal injuries to the bowels
- Fractures in the lumbar spine
- Neck vein injuries
- Neck spine injuries
- Sternal fracture
- Rib fracture
- Pulmonary contusion
- Myocardial contusion
Many of these injuries will require admission to a trauma center. First responders and doctors can work together to assess the impacts of seat belt injuries by using CAT scans and reviewing a patient’s medical history.
How do I Know If I Have a Seat Belt Injury?
Seat belt signs strongly correlate with the presence of abdominal injuries. Researchers found that over half of car victims with a seat belt sign – bruising where the seat belt contacted skin – suffer from abdominal injuries. When running an inventory of your health after your crash, make note of your bruises. Do they mirror the straps of your seatbelt?
A trained physician can take a conclusive look at your injuries, too. If you believe that you were seriously hurt, don’t hesitate to see a doctor.
Should I Still Wear a Seat Belt?
You should still wear a seat belt despite the potential risk of seat belt injuries. Three-point seat belts were introduced in 1973 – this introduction led to a 50% decrease in fatal car accident injuries. Seat belts are considered “active restraints”; they’re the opposite of airbags, which are “passive restraints”.
The obvious benefits of seat belts outweigh their risks. Wearing one could save your life. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that you should wear a seat belt for these reasons:
- It prevents you from being ejected from your vehicle – victims ejected from their vehicle in a crash usually pass away.
- It ensures airbags work properly – airbags can be dangerous if you aren’t wearing a seat belt.
The NHTSA reports that seat belts reduce your risk of fatal injury by as much as 50%, according to the most recently available data. This is a fair trade to make, even given the potential danger of suffering from a seat belt injury.
Complying with safety guidelines while wearing a seat belt is important. Ensure that:
- Your seat belt fits properly.
- You don’t put your shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
- Your lap belt isn’t across your stomach.
- Your belt is away from your neck.
Adhering to these standards could reduce your risk of suffering from a seat belt injury.
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Other Types of Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents don’t just cause seat belt injuries. These types of injuries can also occur in a car accident:
- Fractured bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Many of these injuries are more severe than those caused by a seat belt. Participating in risky roadway behavior, like speeding or ignoring signage, can increase your risk of a crash.
What Types of Compensation Are Available After a Car Accident?
Car accidents can have a range of financial and emotional consequences. These losses can be reimbursed by an insurance settlement or lawsuit, which can cover:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages – provided your injuries left you unable to work
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death compensation, which includes the loss of a close personal relationship
Securing a Settlement
Liability insurance covers the injuries and expenses of other parties in a car accident. For example, if another driver caused your accident, their liability insurance plan could be used to cover your losses. This type of insurance exists to reduce the occurrence of lawsuits. Georgia requires drivers to carry these limits of liability insurance:
- $25,000 for individual bodily injury liability
- $50,000 for total bodily injury liability
- $25,000 for property damage liability
The existence of mandatory liability insurance means most car accident claims involve insurance negotiations. This process entails communicating with the insurer of the party that caused your accident.
Negotiating with insurance companies has its pros and cons. While it can be used to offset your expenses, it can also be time-consuming and stressful. Insurers oftentimes try to pressure claimants into accepting low settlement offers. Hiring a lawyer could offer you some peace of mind. They can handle this aspect of your car accident case.
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Car Accident Cases Have a Deadline
In Georgia, car accident cases fall under the umbrella of personal injury. This means that they are subject to Georgia’s personal injury statute of limitations, which provides claimants a two-year window to file a lawsuit, per GA Code § 9-3-33 (2020). If you wait too long, you could lose your chance to pursue legal action.
Consult with a Legal Team that Has Won Millions of Dollars for Their Clients
Our team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers has won millions of dollars for our clients. We offer free case evaluations. During this initial meeting, we can discuss the details of your case and answer your burning questions. You deserve rest; we can handle the insurers. Call our offices to get started whenever you’re ready.