Seat belts are a critical form of protection in car accidents, but they can also cause severe injuries. If you have been injured due to a defective or dangerous seat belt, a car accident lawyer in Charleston, WV may be able to help. Here are the types of seat belt injuries commonly reported. 

Bruised or Broken Ribs

Three-point harness seat belts, found in most motor vehicles, sit across the chest and lock when a car stops suddenly. As a result, the ribs can easily be seriously bruised or fractured. Even a minor car accident can have enough force to do so. When a rib is fractured, there is a possibility of the lungs being punctured, which requires emergency medical attention. In addition, rib injuries can take several weeks to months to heal. 

Soft Tissue Injuries

A soft tissue injury affects the tissues of the body, such as the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. The most common soft tissue injury from car accidents is whiplash, and a seat belt is one of the main reasons. Due to the sudden jerk and the seat belt stopping your body from moving forward, the head and neck can be violently “whipped” forward and back. As a result, the soft tissues of the neck are affected, causing pain and stiffness that can last weeks, months or years. The soft tissue in the shoulder or abdomen can also be affected by a seat belt in a crash when tendons and muscle fibers tear. 

Injuries to Chest & Torso

People can experience minor chest or torso injuries from a seat belt, but in some cases, the trauma is more severe. The chest is a direct point of impact from a seat belt. As a result, the sternum is often fractured, and internal organs, such as the lungs, heart, or spleen, can suffer damage from the blow. Those organs that can get severely injured are vital to your body, and depending on the severity of the injury, it can be fatal.

Symptoms of shock, severe pain or trouble breathing can be signs of a serious injury to the chest or torso. The seat belt may also tear or pull the muscles and tendons in your chest, which can cause both soreness and reduced mobility in your upper body.

Head Injuries 

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a serious blow to the head. However, one can also be caused by a seat belt if the head is violently shaken, leading the brain to twist, bounce, or otherwise move around and strike the skull. Even a mild concussion can have serious, long-term consequences. Speak to a brain injury attorney in Charleston, WV if you suffer a serious head wound due to a seat belt failure.

Abrasions or Lacerations

Seat belts often cause external injuries when forcefully pushed against the skin, causing cuts. These injuries are typically minor, as long as they do not become infected, but abrasions can be a sign of internal injuries. 

Risks of Not Wearing a Seat Belt 

Although seat belts can cause injuries, the potential costs of not wearing one can be much more catastrophic. Drivers and passengers who fail to wear a seatbelt are at a much higher risk of suffering a permanently debilitating or fatal injury. This is because, unrestrained occupants are more likely to be ejected in a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 51% of the people killed in passenger vehicle accidents in 2020 were not wearing seat belts. The NHTSA also reports that almost 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 from seat belt use, and more than 2,500 could have been.