Missed Seatbelt Syndrome in Children
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Lawyer Attorney. The safety of motor vehicles has been improved drastically over the past few decades. Some of the additional safety features of cars today include:
- Airbags on the driver side, passenger side, and even in the rear
- Backup cameras
- Improved tire treads
- Cross-traffic alert systems
- Lane-departure assist warnings
- Shatter-proof windshields
While these have drastically increased the rates of survival and reduced the rates of death in auto accidents, there are still serious injuries that can result. One problem that was seen with the early addition of seatbelts was an injury pattern called seatbelt syndrome. Because the first few seatbelts only contained a lap belt, nothing was restraining the upper body of the passenger on impact. As a result, the upper body flew forward upon impact while the lower body was restrained. This led to several injuries associated with abdominal trauma, including:
- Tears of the intestinal system
- Perforations of the colon and rectum
- Possible spinal cord injury
- Damage to internal organs, such as the liver and spleen
- Possible internal bleeding and inflammation of the peritoneal cavity
Because of the problems associated with seatbelt syndrome, engineers decided to add a shoulder belt. It was the hope that this addition would reduce the rates of seatbelt syndrome. While this has happened, seatbelt syndrome can still occur. Sometimes, it can even be missed.
Seatbelt Syndrome in Children can be Missed
A team of medical researchers published a series of case reports describing seatbelt syndrome in children. The reports explained how medical professionals failed to identify that seatbelt syndrome had occurred. There were several important points made in these case reports, including:
- Rates of Seatbelt Syndrome: In children, seatbelt syndrome is more likely to happen because kids often wear their seatbelts incorrectly. If the shoulder belt is not across their chest, it cannot restrain them properly. Therefore, seatbelt syndrome can occur.
- Paralysis: If a Chance fracture, a type of spinal cord injury, is sustained, children could be paralyzed from the waist down, losing the function of their legs.
- Injury Pattern: If spinal cord and abdominal injuries are seen in children following an auto accident, a CT scan is needed to evaluate these traumatic injuries further. Following this scan, close observation in a hospital setting is essential. This can help rule out serious injuries that are progressing. Furthermore, it ensures that internal bleeding is not missed.
If there are any signs of intestinal perforation on the CT scan, this constitutes a surgical emergency and should be corrected quickly.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. If your child has suffered abdominal trauma due to seatbelt syndrome in a car accident, please contact me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. I will be happy to share friendly, free advice.
I am happy to be a trial attorney in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You can read more about our verdicts or settlements cases.
Image Sourcing: The picture at the start of this page was found on Unsplash. Reproduction here was performed with permission.
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