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When you drive or ride in a car, truck or SUV, you should always buckle your seat belt. After all, Wisconsin law requires all drivers and passengers over the age of 4 to wear seat belts. In addition to helping you avoid a traffic ticket, the seat belt in your car may also save your life. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that seat belts prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in 2017 alone. Unfortunately, though, your seat belt may also expose you to additional risks, including possible internal injuries

Seat Belt Syndrome

Doctors regularly refer to restraint-related injuries as seat belt syndrome. This collective name describes a host of injuries, ranging from fractured vertebrae to damaged organs. If you have seat belt syndrome, you may have a tell-tale bruise across your upper torso and midsection. 

Organ Damage

Typically, the bruising that often accompanies seat belt syndrome is not a medical emergency. Organ damage, however, very clearly is. If your car’s seat belt injures your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys or any other organ, you may have a limited timeframe to seek medical treatment. 

The Importance of Medical Care

Motor vehicle accidents are often stressful events. To help you cope, your body releases a series of hormones. These hormones may mask injury symptoms, causing you not to realize you have sustained a serious injury until hours or days after the collision. 

Consequently, following any serious accident, you may want to seek emergency medical care. This is especially true if you have bruising, abdominal pain, paralysis or any other symptoms of seat belt syndrome.