Motor vehicle accidents result in approximately 2 million emergency room visits every year in California and across the U.S. Many accident victims sustain blunt abdominal trauma, and the liver and spleen are the two organs that are most commonly injured. If the spleen suffers from severe bleeding, it can be surgically be removed, but that is not the case with the liver. This is why protecting this organ is so important.

Researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn have conducted a study showing that seat belt use can reduce the severity of liver injuries. Their data included over 52,200 injury cases from the National Trauma Data Bank that spanned the years 2012 to 2015. All of the injury victims were 18 years and older, and they were admitted to the hospital, passed away upon arrival or died en route. Motorcycle crashes were excluded.

Fifteen percent of the patients suffered from liver injuries that researchers classified as severe, which included ruptured clots with uncontrolled bleeding as well as deep lacerations. Of these patients, 15 percent died. Among those with mild or moderate injuries, nearly 8 percent passed away.

The patients who wore seat belts were 21 percent less prone to incur severe liver injuries. When seat belts were combined with airbags, that percentage rose to 26 percent. However, airbags alone are not effective. While the conclusions may seem like common sense, some still believe that seat belts are harmful.

Failure to wear a seat belt is a form of driver negligence. Victims of car accidents who neglected to wear a seat belt will be considered partially at fault, and if they file a personal injury claim, they will be eligible for less compensation. With a lawyer, victims can build up a strong case showing how the other driver bears most of the blame. An attorney could then negotiate for the maximum settlement possible with the defendant’s auto insurance company.