As a conscientious traveler, you may never get behind the wheel or in a passenger seat without putting on your seat belt. You undoubtedly also make sure that anyone who rides as a passenger in your vehicle wears a seat belt. This step can often help protect everyone inside the vehicle in the event that an accident takes place.
Of course, even with a seat belt, injuries can still happen, and in some cases those injuries can prove severe. In particular, if you use a seat belt that only secures across the lap and does not have a shoulder belt, you could face the risk of suffering a Chance fracture should a crash occur.
A Chance fracture is a type of fracture that affects the spine. It can happen when the spine flexes and exerts too much force as it extends. It often takes place when the upper part of the body thrusts forward while the waist and lower part of the body stay in a fixed position.
Seat belts with only a lap belt can contribute to this type of injury in a car crash because the belt stops the lower part of the body from moving, but the upper part of the body flexes forward due to lack of restraint on impact. The fracture can occur to the spinal column because the vertebra is simultaneously compressed and pulled forward. It is also common for abdominal injuries to occur.
The manner in which this type of injury is treated may depend on various factors. For instance, a CT or MRI scan may be necessary so doctors can determine the extent of the damage. If the injury has also affected the spinal cord or surrounding ligaments, doctors may need to perform surgery. The operation may involve the insertion of metal rods and screws in order to stabilize the spine. However, surgery may not prove necessary, and doctors may take steps to reduce the fracture.
Though Chance fractures are less common due to newer vehicles utilizing shoulder restraints on the majority of seat belts, they can still take place. Unfortunately, as with most spine injuries, recovery can take a considerable amount of time.
If you or a loved one suffers this type of injury in a car accident caused by another driver, you may have reason to pursue compensation for medical bills and other damages. A personal injury claim may help with this endeavor, and speaking with an attorney may help you better understand this option.