Seat belts in cars are designed to save lives -- and they're highly effective at it. Just the same, the force of your body jolting against a seat belt during an accident can end up hurting you -- and you may not even immediately realize that you're hurt.
If you were in a car accident while wearing your seat belt, you hopefully walked away with nothing more than a few bruises. To be safe, however, watch for these signs that you're suffering from some hidden trauma:
1. You have pain and stiffness in your neck
"Whiplash" is the term used to describe injuries caused by the force of someone's head abruptly snapping forward and back again at the moment of impact in a car accident. That sudden force can cause everything from mild muscle stiffness to spinal damage -- which can get worse as the damaged tissues swell.
2. You develop breathing problems
Cracked ribs are one source of breathing problems -- and so are damaged internal organs. It's impossible to overstate the amount of force that your body experiences during a car accident -- even at a low speed. Your heart and lungs can both end up bruised.
3. You see blood when you go to the bathroom
Blood in your stool or urine is a serious problem. The pressure from the lap belt during the accident could have damaged your bladder, urinary tract, colon or other internal organs. You may also experience difficulty going to the bathroom because of the damage.
4. You feel weak or dizzy for no obvious reason
Weakness and dizziness are not normal -- so never disregard them! If your legs feel weak, you may be suffering from nerve damage along your spine. Weakness and dizziness may also be more symptoms of internal injuries and bleeding.
All of these symptoms should send you in search of a doctor immediately. Do not delay, because these can be the signs of a life-threatening condition. If you are injured due to a car accident, an attorney can help you make a claim for the compensation you need for your medical care and lost wages.