Can children develop seat belt syndrome?

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

By now, all parents should recognize the critical importance of using car seats for infants and toddlers. After all, according to the National Safety Council, size-appropriate car seats can cut injury risk for young passengers by as much as 71%.

As children grow, parents should upgrade to booster seats. These seats allow kids to sit higher, enabling them to use a vehicle’s normal seat belts. Unfortunately, though, children in booster seats can develop seat belt syndrome after motor vehicle accidents.

What is seat belt syndrome?

Seat belt syndrome is the designation doctors use to describe many different injuries a person might suffer when wearing a seat belt. Often, seat belt syndrome comes with a clearly defined belt-shaped bruise across a person’s midsection.

The condition can involve more than superficial bruising, though. Indeed, individuals with seat belt syndrome might have broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, internal bleeding or even organ damage.

When should child passengers see a doctor?

Because bruising is so common, it might be tempting for parents to take a wait-and-see approach.  Doing so, though, might put the lives of young accident victims in extreme danger.

Simply put, because most parents cannot distinguish between minor bruising and injuries that are considerably more serious or even life-threatening, it is advisable for children to go to the emergency room for evaluation following any type of car accident.

Visiting the emergency room can be expensive, especially if a child requires in-depth treatment for seat belt syndrome. Ultimately, though, the driver who is responsible for the crash may have a legal obligation to pay for an injured child’s diagnosis and treatment.

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