Car accidents sometimes leave drivers and passengers with no injuries at all. Walking away from a collision injury-free is rare, however. In fact, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, 4.4 million Americans require medical treatment after car accidents every year.
Because you are probably not a doctor, you likely lack the skills necessary to diagnose an accident-related injury. Therefore, in addition to documenting the crash, you should always seek medical care following any car accident. This is especially true if you have a belt-shaped bruise after a wreck.
Seat belt syndrome
Doctors often use the term “seat belt syndrome” to describe all injuries that stem from seat belt usage. When your vehicle collides with another one, your waist and torso may push up against your car’s seat belt. A belt-shaped bruise in either area may indicate a potentially life-threatening injury.
Bruising happens when blood vessels under the skin burst. By itself, a bruise is not normally indicative of internal bleeding. Still, because your torso includes major veins and arteries, you may have internal bleeding. If you do not receive immediate medical care, internal bleeding may be fatal.
While your seat belt is likely to save your life initially, it may cause your ribs to break. A jagged piece of broken rib may puncture your lungs, nick your heart or cause other organ damage. Similarly, the pressure from your seat belt may injure your spleen, liver, kidneys or other major organs.
Whether your belt-shaped bruise appears immediately after the accident or a few days later, you must take it seriously. Remember, only after an experienced physician examines you can you know whether you have sustained a serious injury in your accident.