The seat belts in your car are some of its more effective safety features. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of those who died in traffic accidents in 2020 were not wearing seat belts. Therefore, every time you climb behind the wheel, it is imperative to buckle your seat belt.
Even though your seat belt may save your life in a catastrophic car accident, it also can cause some unsightly bruising. Luckily, most seat belt bruises are minor injuries that resolve on their own in a few days. In some cases, though, a seat belt bruise is evidence of potentially life-threatening internal injuries.
What is seat belt syndrome?
Doctors have long referred to the injuries seat belts can cause as seat belt syndrome. Rather than being a single medical condition, seat belt syndrome is the catch-all name for any injuries seat belts cause during car accidents. If you have the syndrome, you may have a minor bruise, a major internal injury or something in between.
When should you see your doctor?
If you only have a bruise, you should see your doctor if the bruise does not go away in a week or two. You should also visit your physician for internal pain, nausea, vomiting or disorientation. If you have any of these, your seat belt syndrome may not be minor.
When should you go to the hospital?
Even though visiting the hospital can be expensive, you should not risk your future physical well-being. Therefore, it is advisable to go to the hospital immediately if one or more of the following is true:
- Your car’s airbags deploy
- Your car is not driveable after the accident
- There is damage to your driver’s side door
- You have pain, paralysis or blood in your vomit or urine
Ultimately, if someone else causes the accident, you may have a direct path for seeking financial compensation to help you defray the high cost of a medical evaluation.