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Broken Ribs From a Car Crash – What You Need to Know

doctor looking at ribcage x-raysBroken ribs from a car crash are very common, but since there may not be visual evidence of an injury, some victims may think the pain is normal muscle soreness. Rib fractures, however, can quickly lead to life-threatening complications if not diagnosed and treated.

Below, Schmidt Kramer talks more about broken rib injuries and the serious health complications that may result without immediate medical attention. If your broken ribs and other crash injuries were the result of another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover significant compensation.

Learn more about damages caused by broken ribs after a car crash and why immediate medical diagnosis and treatment of these injuries can be life-saving.

Need legal help after a car crash? Contact our law offices 24/7 to learn if you may have legal options for recovering damages. An initial case review is both cost and risk-free.

Request a FREE case review to learn more. (717) 727-1403

How You Could Break Your Ribs in a Car Crash

During a car crash, drivers could break their ribs by getting slammed into the steering wheel at impact. Sometimes, broken ribs are the result of a front-seat passenger hitting the dashboard. However, other occupants in the car could crack or fracture their ribs in a collision if the force of an impact presses them hard enough against their seat belt.

Can Broken Ribs After a Car Crash Be Life-Threatening?

If a crash victim does not see any visual evidence of an injury, he or she might think the pain they feel is normal muscle soreness. These victims might even put off or skip getting medical attention as a result. Unfortunately, waiting to get a proper medical examination after any crash is a bad idea. You may have serious underlying damages that need immediate treatment to give you the best chance of recovering or surviving.

Undiagnosed rib fractures may become life-threatening if left untreated, especially if they lead to or cause organ damage.

Your ribs act like armor, protecting several internal organs, including your:

  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Spleen
  • Kidneys
  • Liver

If a rib fracture is severe enough, it could puncture your lungs or any of the organs they normally protect, causing serious damage. A broken rib could severely bruise or puncture one or more internal organs during the impact. Even if the rib fracture is less serious, it could severely lacerate one or more major organs.

If your broken ribs were to puncture one or both lungs, it would be difficult to breathe. You could suffer a collapsed lung or other lung injuries.

What Symptoms Might Indicate Broken Ribs After a Car Crash?

Even if you only have soft-tissue injuries surrounding your rib cage, it could be painful when you breathe or move. Bruised ribs may also cause tenderness, swelling and muscle spasms in the area.

The symptoms of a broken rib vary, depending on the severity of the fracture. Intense force, such as from a car crash can easily cause a small fracture or multiple broken ribs. Even hairline fractures are extremely painful, especially when you laugh, cough or just breathe.

It may be inconvenient, but the only sure way to determine whether you have broken ribs or a less serious injury is by getting a medical examination. Getting to the emergency room right after a crash is vital. If your injuries are serious, you can begin treatment immediately. Faster treatment often means a more optimum recovery. It can also help you to avoid serious complications, such as pneumonia or a collapsed lung.

How Are Broken Ribs From a Car Crash Diagnosed and Treated?

Your doctor will likely recommend X-rays, CT scans or MRIs to see what is going on under the surface. If you have a more minor injury, such as a hairline fracture, you will likely only need ice, rest and breathing exercises. If the fracture is more serious, such as a displaced fracture, you will likely need surgery to repair the damage. A displaced fracture means your bones were not only broken but moved out of alignment.

If your doctor says you have comminuted fractures, then one or more ribs may have been broken in at least two places. This is a common type of fracture in a car crash. Surgery will be necessary in this situation, and a full recovery could take as long as a year, maybe even longer.

There are multiple types of rib fractures you could suffer in a car crash. However, organ damage as a result of a fracture is often more serious than if you have broken ribs.

What Could Make Broken Ribs Life Threatening?

There are multiple situations where one or more broken ribs from a car crash could become a life-threatening injury, including:

Punctured Lung

If a broken rib punctures a lung, air may escape from the lung and begin filling the chest cavity outside of the lung.

Traumatic Pneumothorax

This is what happens if a patient with a punctured lung does not receive immediate treatment. A pneumothorax injury occurs if so much air in your lungs leaks out that the increased air pressure in your chest cavity prevents your lungs from being able to fill up or expand. This injury could lead to a total lung collapse.

Other initial symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing and coughing up blood. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to reinflate the lung. Without medical attention, a pneumothorax could be fatal.

Flail Chest

When several ribs are broken in multiple places, a segment of the rib structure can detach from the inner wall of the chest. This injury could significantly decrease the integrity of the rib cage. Flail chest is considered the most serious of any rib injury. It can be life-threatening without immediate medical attention.

These injuries also increase the risk of getting pneumonia. Therefore, part of the treatment for patients with rib fractures and a lung injury is physical therapy. Exercises typically include coughing to keep the lungs clear and deep breathing exercises, to help prevent lung infection.

Can I File an Injury Claim for Broken Ribs From a Car Crash?

If you suffered rib fractures and other severe rib injuries, you may be eligible to recover compensation for things like medical costs and lost wages. You may also be able to file a claim for pain and suffering damages.

Contact our law offices to discuss your situation and learn more about your potential legal options. Our car accident lawyers in Harrisburg have been helping injury victims for decades, and we have a history of proven results.

If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. In fact, you only pay us if we are successful in recovering compensation for your damages.

Millions recovered for our clients. (717) 727-1403