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Seat belts reduce severity of liver injuries in car crashes

Motor vehicle accidents in California often inflict blunt trauma injuries to people's abdomens. Damage to the liver and spleen can cause heavy bleeding. In severe cases, the victims could die. Researchers analyzed over 50,000 accident victims with liver injuries and found evidence that seat belts played a significant role in reducing the severity of injuries to this vital organ.

The research team collected data from passenger vehicle accidents that occurred between 2010 and 2015. They focused on victims age 18 or older who required hospitalization or died on the way to the hospital because of liver injuries. The researchers categorized the liver injuries according to severity and cross-referenced their medical information with information about whether the victims were wearing seatbelts or had airbags. Among those who wore seat belts, they had a 21 percent lower chance of experiencing a severe liver injury. If they also had the benefit of airbags while wearing a seat belt, their rates of bad liver damage dropped by 26 percent.

The results did not surprise the lead author of the study. She said that seat belts were well known to reduce fatality rates, but the study had sought to dispel beliefs that viewed seat belts as a source of harm instead of protection. She also hoped that the study's findings would emphasize the need to wear seat belts even in the presence of airbags.

Although seat belts reduce injuries, a car accident victim might still require hospitalization, surgery and a long recovery time. If a reckless or inattentive driver caused the harmful crash, an injured person might gain important insights about personal injury from an attorney who represents cases involving car accidents. An attorney may be able to manage the insurance claim or file a lawsuit to pursue a settlement for hospital bills and lost pay.

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