Wearing your seat belt is one of the most effective ways to survive a catastrophic motor vehicle accident. Indeed, according to the Zebra, seat belts have saved almost 400,000 lives since 1975. They also have prevented countless catastrophic injuries.
Even though your seat belt protects you during accidents, it also can cause you to develop a nasty-looking bruise across your midsection. Doctors refer to this type of bruising as seat belt syndrome. The condition also includes other belt-associated injuries, such as muscle tears and sprains.
Superficial seat belt syndrome
Seat belt syndrome is usually more superficial than serious. That is, you are not likely to die from run-of-the-mill seat belt syndrome. This does not mean your injury is going to be pleasant, though. After all, in addition to looking gruesome, seat belt syndrome can be uncomfortable or downright painful for a few weeks.
Serious seat belt syndrome
Sometimes, seat belt syndrome is not merely superficial. In fact, bruising to your midsection can be evidence of organ damage, internal bleeding or another potentially life-threatening condition. It also may indicate serious soft-tissue injuries or broken bones. All of these require prompt medical care, of course.
Even though going to the emergency room after a motor vehicle accident can be expensive, you certainly cannot afford to hope your seat belt syndrome is nothing serious. Remember, you may be eligible for significant financial compensation from the responsible driver to help you defray the steep costs of medical treatment.
Ultimately, whether your condition turns out to be minor, moderate or severe, seeking immediate medical care improves your odds of making a full and fast recovery.