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The amount of compensation you can receive for a chest injury caused by a seat belt during a car accident may depend on a number of personal factors. Namely, you’ll need to prove the injury was caused by damage from the safety belt — not by the auto accident. How do you do this? A personal injury lawyer can help you prove seat belt damage when you file an injury claim.
They can also help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries. While it’s difficult to predict the exact amount you may be awarded for a seat belt-related chest injury, a lawyer can look at the details of your case and provide an educated value estimate. You can learn more about this by calling LegalFinders today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
A number of factors will be considered when determining your compensation amount for a chest injury caused by a seat belt. These may include the following, among others:
Severity of the Chest Injury
In general, serious injuries — such as those which can be life-threatening or cause long-term damage — will garner higher compensation for personal injury claims. This is true for one simple reason: people with more severe injuries may have higher medical costs, require long-term care, may not be able to return to work, or experience other costly life impacts.
For example, someone who experiences internal bleeding or an aortic rupture will likely need swift medical attention, which may include surgery. Someone with a chest injury that results only in bruising or broken ribs may only need a few days or a few weeks to recover at home, with limited medical expenses.
Keep in mind, however, that the physical injuries and related costs are not the only things considered in a car accident chest injury settlement. If you or your loved one experienced pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder, vehicle damages, or other effects, these damages may also be listed on your claim.
Who Was at Fault
Also important to the value of your settlement amount is the consideration of fault, or who was responsible for the accident. You may have hefty medical bills caused by a seat belt injury, but if you had a hand in causing them, this could reduce your payout amount.
In some states, you may not be able to start a personal injury case if you were at fault for the accident. This is why accident victims may benefit from working closely with car accident attorneys, who can help demonstrate why you were not at fault.
Insurance companies may try to shift blame for the accident onto you in order to protect their own interests and avoid paying maximum compensation. An experienced attorney will thwart such attempts.
As mentioned, seat belt injury settlement amounts largely depend on the severity of the injuries. Minor injuries which don’t require intensive medical treatment, such as cuts, abrasions, or bruised ribs, may result in a settlement up to $10,000.
Serious injuries which require long-term medical care or recovery periods, such as a fractured sternum, may be worth two or three times that amount.
Catastrophic injuries, which can alter the course of your life, may lead to even higher compensation amounts. This is because you will need compensation that accounts for the lasting impact the injury will cause, such as inability to return to work. Spinal cord injuries, for example, may lead to paralysis, while lung damage can cause complications which result in difficulty breathing for years to come.
A car accident chest injury settlement will need to account for these effects, which means compensation for such severe injuries could be upwards of $100,000 or more. If you lost a family member due a seat belt injury that resulted from a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims may result in even higher settlement amounts, since they attempt to legally atone for the unexpected loss of a loved one.
The following are some of the most common injuries to the chest that may result during vehicle collisions:
Seat Belt Syndrome
The set of injuries that often result from seat belt damage during a car accident is commonly referred to as ‘seat belt syndrome.’ While these injuries affect the chest, head, neck, shoulders, and lap area, many of the most severe injuries affect the chest.
Bone fractures in the chest area that may be caused by a seat belt include fractured ribs, sternal fractures, and broken clavicle. These injuries may not seem dangerous, however, they can have severe effects if left untreated.
That is, the chest’s close proximity to crucial organs, such as the heart and lungs, makes it highly important to protect. If lower rib bones are broken from the force of a seat belt and detach, they could puncture your heart, which can have disastrous effects, or puncture your lung, leading to a lung collapse, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can happen during car accidents due to the sudden jolt of the vehicle, which leads your body to collide with the seat belt with great force. Strains and sprains are some of the most common injuries to soft tissue in the chest in car crashes.
Strains affect tendons, while sprains affect your ligaments. Soft tissue injuries to the chest could include:
Internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, intestinal damage, or other organ damage, are some of the most dangerous injuries that can result from vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, damage to internal organs is not always easy to spot, since it happens inside a person’s body, and the shock of the accident can temporarily mask pain.
Signs of internal bleeding can include abdominal pain that gets worse with time, vomiting blood, a deep purple bruise, feeling very cold, and dizziness or confusion. Immediate medical attention is necessary for internal injuries to avoid life-threatening consequences.
Did you or a loved one experience internal damage due to a seat belt injury? You may be able to fight for compensation, if the auto accident was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Lung lacerations (torn lungs) may result from seat belt chest injuries when pieces of fractured ribs break off and puncture the lung tissue. If treated right away, these injuries may resolve quickly. However, some cases of torn lungs do require surgery and in complicated and rare cases, may even be fatal.
Bilateral Lung Contusions
A bilateral lung contusion, simply put, is severe swelling and bruising of the lung. This injury damages capillaries, which means blood and fluids may build up in the lung, according to the Bulletin of Emergency and Trauma.
This may lead to shortness of breath, which can be treated with oxygen and is not always severe if the person receives medical care right away.
The force of car accidents can be so great that the impact of the seat belt ruptures a person’s aorta, or the largest artery in the body which is responsible for carrying blood from the heart throughout the circulatory system.
A rupture means a tear through all of the aortic layers, which can have life-threatening consequences including bleeding out and death. One case report showed that 98 of 207 people involved in fatal car accidents died due to aortic rupture caused by thoracic (chest) injuries.
In addition to a ruptured aorta, which affects the heart, other heart injuries may occur due to blunt force trauma to the chest, such as from a seat belt injury. This includes a heart attack or heart rupture. A heart attack can occur when an artery that sends blood to the heart becomes blocked.
In contrast, a heart rupture is an uncommon side effect of heart attacks, which can occur due to blunt force trauma, with often life-threatening results. If you are seeking compensation on behalf of a loved one who died due to heart complications caused by a seat belt injury, we can help. Reach out to LegalFinders to be connected with a reputable injury attorney.
Though seat belt restraints are meant to prevent life-threatening injuries, and are often successful. They can also lead to a multitude of injuries aside from chest injuries:
Regardless of the type of injury, you shouldn’t have to pay for injury-related costs that you didn’t cause.
The most effective way to get compensation for a seat belt injury to the chest is by working with a law firm that has experience in handling personal injury cases. Car accident lawyers have experience specific to car accidents, which means the legal advice they provide will be tailored to your needs.
The best car accident attorneys will work hard to establish a firm attorney-client relationship, so you feel at ease allowing them to manage your case. They will know all the laws and statutes which apply to car accident claims in your state, and will help you file your claim with all the details necessary to seek a favorable settlement.
Find answers below to commonly asked questions regarding seat belt injury claims.
How long a seat belt injury lasts depends largely on the type of injury. Bruising or abrasions may last days to weeks, broken bones may last weeks to a couple of months, while more serious injuries could last for some months
If you were at fault for the car accident, you may be held liable for your own injuries. However, if you are seeking compensation for a seat belt chest injury caused by another party, a lawyer can help you prove that you were not at fault.
Seat belt injury accident claims can be difficult to prove, since proving your injuries resulted from the seat belt — and not the collision — may be complex. Yet seat belts have, in the past, caused severe or fatal injuries, and a personal injury lawyer will be able to help you demonstrate the cause of your injuries for the court.
As with other types of injury claims, you do not need a lawyer to file your claim, but may find working with a lawyer to your benefit. Car accident lawyers can provide legal guidance that you cannot provide on your own and will work to build a strong case, aiding you in pursuing fair compensation for your injuries.
Are you ready to receive a fair settlement offer for a seat belt injury to the chest? Look no further than LegalFinders, an expansive network of legal professionals who are ready and willing to go to bat for you in court. Find out more today by calling our helpline for a no-obligation free case evaluation.