Wearing a seat belt is one of the more effective ways to stay safe in a motor vehicle. After all, in 2017 alone, nearly half of individuals who died in car crashes were not wearing seat belts. Even though your car’s seat belt may keep you from dying in a traffic accident, it may also cause your collarbone to break. 

Your two collarbones run across the top of your torso, connecting your shoulder blades to the middle of your chest. While many collarbone injuries heal completely, you may develop one of the following complications after a motor vehicle accident. 

1. Nerve, artery or vein damage

Your collarbone is dangerously close to major veins, arteries and nerves. If a car accident breaks your collarbone, jagged pieces of the bone may damage vital blood vessels or delicate neurological fibers. This may result in significant blood loss, paralysis or other medical emergencies. 

2. Bone scarring

For a broken collarbone to heal, you must grow new bone. While not technically a scar, excess bone growth may result in a bulge in your upper torso. While this bump may not cause you pain, an unsightly bulge may give you body image issues. In extreme situations, you may develop a psychological disorder, like body dysphoria or even depression. 

3. Osteoarthritis

Your collarbone connects to your shoulder blade and your breastbone. If you have a fracture in either of these connection sites, you may develop osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that occurs in joints. With this condition, you may experience pervasive joint pain, loss of motion or general weakness. 

4. Improper healing

Unlike many other bones, broken collarbones often heal poorly. When the fractured part of the bone fuses, the collarbone may shorten. This may leave you with both a limited range of motion and ongoing soreness. You may also suffer from related headaches. 

Even if your broken collarbone heals properly, recovery time from this type of injury is often long. If you develop other severe complications, though, your life may never be the same again. Fortunately, you may be able to pursue compensation from whomever caused the crash that resulted in your collarbone injury.