Seat belts are an important form of equipment that helps keep people safe while traveling by car or truck. When seat belts are used, they can stop you from being ejected from a moving vehicle and can help to reduce the amount of trauma experienced during the impact of a collision.
There’s no doubt that seat belts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries in many cases. At the same time, when a vehicle has to stop suddenly, your torso can be jolted against your seat belt with enough force to cause a seat belt injury. This is known as seat belt syndrome and it can cause several different types of injuries, some of which cause chest pain.
Types of Seat Belt Injuries
Being jolted against a seat belt can cause minor injuries such as scrapes or bruises on the chest or abdomen, which can lead to chest discomfort. When a crash happens at high speed, seat belt injuries can be more severe.
Even though the injuries are likely to be less severe than those that you’d experience if you were ejected from the car or thrown against the dashboard, there are several different types of injuries you may experience which may be accompanied by chest discomfort. These include:
- Abrasions on the skin – Injuries that are caused by seat belts often leave noticeable abrasions on the skin that appear diagonally across the chest and abdomen. In a minor accident, these may be superficial scrapes, but after a serious impact, abrasions can be a sign of internal injuries under the skin.
- Fractures – Impact against a seat belt can cause fractures in the chest area, such as the sternum, ribs or spine.
- Soft Tissue Injuries – Seat belt syndrome can lead to decreased mobility when tendons, ligaments or muscle fibers are torn. Pain in the chest area may be a sign of muscle pulls or tears of the chest muscles.
Delayed Signs of a Seat Belt Injury
Immediately or fairly soon after a car accident, you may experience tenderness or soreness in your chest area. You may feel stiff and sore when you move or find it hurts to lie on the injured area.
Some symptoms of a serious seat belt injury may not show up immediately and can become much more severe if they are ignored. You may think bruises and lacerations are minor, but they may signify serious internal injuries. Symptoms that should be evaluated by a doctor if they develop days or weeks after an accident include:
- Swelling, tenderness or pain in the chest, abdominal area or back
- Coughing up blood, even in trace amounts
- Dizziness or weakness
- Blood in the urine or stool
Major Chest Injuries
Some chest injuries after an accident are very serious. Severe pain in the chest or difficulty breathing are signs that can indicate damage to the heart, lungs or blood vessels and these symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
If the sternum has been fractured in the crash, internal organs including the heart and lungs may be damaged as well. Your doctor or an emergency room physician should examine the extent of the damage if you have experienced trauma to your chest.
Consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has experienced a seat belt injury from a California accident caused by the negligence of another driver, consult a personal injury lawyer to find out your rights. The lawyers at Megeredchian Law have extensive experience in all types of accidents and we’re available to answer all your questions 24/7. Get in touch with us by filling out the form on this page and we’ll call you to set up a free case evaluation.