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Seatbelts may reduce severity of liver injuries

Every year in Louisiana and across the U.S., motor vehicle accidents lead to tens of thousands of fatalities and 2 million emergency room visits. Many of the injuries are caused by blunt abdominal trauma, and the liver and spleen are the two most commonly injured organs. While spleens can be removed in an emergency, livers cannot, so it's important to prevent injuries to them as much as possible.

A study conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn shows that even while seat belt use cannot prevent liver injuries, it can greatly reduce their severity. For the study, researchers analyzed over 52,200 injury cases from 2010 to 2015 that came from the National Trauma Data Bank.

Fifteen percent of the patients incurred severe liver injuries, which ranged from ruptured clots to deep lacerations requiring immediate care. Of those patients, 15 percent died. Eight percent of the patients with moderate or mild liver injuries died. However, seat belt-wearing patients were 21 percent less likely to sustain severe liver injuries. That percentage went up to 26 when seat belts were combined with airbags. Airbags alone, however, effect no change.

While the study's conclusion may seem obvious, there are some people who still believe that seat belts can be harmful. Others mistakenly believe that if a vehicle has airbags, they do not need to wear a seat belt.

Those who were involved in a motor vehicle accident but neglected to wear their seat belt may still be able to receive compensation under the state's pure comparative negligence rule. Still, it will be hard to negotiate for a settlement when one is partially at fault, so hiring a lawyer is essential. An attorney can hire investigators to gather proof against the defendant, such as the police report, any eyewitness testimony and any physical evidence at the crash site. If negotiations fall through, a lawyer can assist with litigation.

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