In our Chicago personal injury and workers compensation practice we represent many individuals who have had a Chicago car accident. One of the many injuries that can result from an MVA includes what is sometimes described as a "seat belt injury". These are generally internal injuries caused by the forces imparted to the abdomen and chest as a result of the action of the seat belt. More commonly we see the chest and /or abdominal abrasion at the area where the seat belt made contact with the body. Next to subcutaneous bruising, a fractured sternum is the most common seat belt injury. The sternum, commonly known as the breastbone, is a long, narrow flat bone that serves as the keystone of the rib cage and stabilizes the thoracic skeleton. More severe injuries can be caused by seat belts including fractures, dislocations, spine injuries, and most seriously and potentially fatal ruptures to internal organs.
Proper placement of a seat belt on a vehicle occupant is one of the keys to the prevention of seat belt-related injuries. According to the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- The shoulder belt should be placed across the middle of your chest and away from your neck
- The lap belt should be placed firmly across your hips and below your stomach
- Never place the shoulder strap behind your back or under your arm, especially merely out of desire for comfort.
- No belt should ever be uncomfortably tight or so loose as to allow the occupant to freely move about in the seat.
For more information on proper positioning and placement of a seat belt, as well as information specifically geared toward seat belt safety for children and expectant mothers, see the National Highway and Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision or have a Chicago personal injury, our advice, as always, is: 1) to not make any statements to police or insurance representatives 2) to promptly receive necessary medical attention and 3) to call Morici, Longo & Associates at (312) 372-9600.