Seat belts are an important part of vehicle safety, and when used properly, can be the best protection from injury in a car crash. Unfortunately, if the seat belt restraint is not used properly or doesn’t fit, such as when worn by a child, serious injury and death can happen in an accident, as a result. Seat Belt Syndrome (SBS) is not a commonly known term to the public, but emergency rooms and insurance companies know this term well. It boils down to having the lap belt not across the lap of the passenger, but worn across the stomach, often with the shoulder strap pushed behind the passenger’s body. These ill-fated adjustments are usually made to accommodate comfort for a child or for a small or elderly adult, when the belt system doesn’t fit. Smaller passengers often complain about the upper strap rubbing their neck or rolling off their shoulders. When a restraint is worn incorrectly, a passenger in a car crash risks further injury than they’d have otherwise, even death.
Seat Belt Syndrome
When the passenger’s shoulder strap is not in position to protect the rider adequately, their upper body can pitch forward, hitting their head or face onto the dash or seat ahead of them. Of course, this creates opportunities for head and brain injuries. When the lap restraint is worn across the stomach rather than the legs, vital organs are vulnerable to extreme pressure and displacement damage. This damage doesn’t always show up right away. Victims who leave an accident without an accurate diagnosis or treatment of internal injuries risk unchecked further damage, infection, sepsis and possible organ failure.
Because children are often the main victims of seat belt syndrome, this condition can be prevented by the proper type of car seat. After any level of accident, car seats are required by law to be replaced, even if they appear to be intact. If your child’s chair is defective and your child incurs a seat belt syndrome injury due to a misused or defective car seat, the actual cause of the injuries needs to be assessed prior to making a claim. Your attorney must prove the injury was caused while the seat belt was being used properly in order to make a claim against the manufacturer of the car seat. If the child was harnessed improperly, an injury claim, or wrongful death suit may be filed against whoever set up the restraint, but, again, this is all subject to proof. Liability is also assigned based on the conditions and details of the driving incident that caused the accident itself. Liability in a seatbelt syndrome case can be complicated and hard to pinpoint. It also can take longer for a victim to realize they want to or need to make a claim, if they didn’t feel bad right away.
Seek Medical Attention for SBS in Merced
It’s very important to seek medical attention if you or a loved one has been injured in any accident. If there is no seat belt syndrome-related injury found in the first evaluation, watch for signs, as they might develop later. At the first hint of signs, get to a medical professional for a full diagnosis immediately. These later signs include: bruising and marks that develop on the abdominal exterior, headaches, internal pain, growing or new lower back or abdominal pain, abdominal tenderness, high heart rate, and wound re-opening, even around stitches.
When you are found to have seat belt syndrome, your attorney will have to readjust any claim previously filed. Either way, further investigation is required to reconstruct the accident after the fact, get the necessary records and understand the new needs of the patient. The Maison Law Firm will work with victims and their families to sort the complexities of SBS and how it impacts your long-term medical bills, insurance and other expenses and damages. Call us as soon as possible for the best chance at getting your full compensation due.