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Crush Injuries After a Car Crash and Why They Are So Dangerous

stock image of an Emergency Room signCrush injuries from a car crash are very common and can occur even in a seemingly minor collision. At first, victims may have no idea their injuries are severe. This is especially true if the damaged area involves a smaller body part, like a hand or leg.

Complications from a crush injury, however, are extremely dangerous. Without immediate treatment, serious medical issues can result, leading to amputation, organ failure, sepsis and death.

Schmidt Kramer explains more about crush injuries, including how they happen and the potentially life-altering complications that can occur.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, we urge you to seek both medical and legal help right away. Our car crash attorneys in Pennsylvania have extensive experience representing crash victims. You can reach our Harrisburg-area law offices 24/7 to discuss your situation. Your case review is completely free, so there is no cost or risk to you.

Request a FREE case review today. (717) 727-1403

What is a Crush Injury?

When extreme force presses against a body part, the result is a crush injury. A crush injury could happen if:

  • Part of your body, such as a leg, arm or torso is pressed between two objects
  • A heavy object falls on part of your body
  • A stationary person, such as a pedestrian or cyclist, is hit by a speeding vehicle
  • Someone on a motorcycle, which has no protection for the rider, is hit by a car or some other large vehicle

The severity of a crush injury is determined by the amount of force that hits the body, what part of the body is affected, and how big of an area was crushed.

For example, a heavy object falling on a hand and causing a crush injury may not be life-threatening. However, it could lead to an amputation of a limb or cause other complications, like compartment syndrome.

In contrast, if a construction worker has a heavy piece of machinery fall on his or her torso, the injury is likely to be much more catastrophic or fatal.

How Do Car Crashes Cause Crush Injuries?

A crush injury can happen in a slow-speed crash. One very common example is if a car hits a pedestrian who was standing still, or even walking. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable to crush injuries if they get hit by a car as their bodies have little protection. They may get thrown and hit the ground or another stationary object, like a building. That amount of force at impact alone is enough to cause a crush injury.

Similarly, a motorcycle hit by a car would also create enough force to cause the rider to suffer a crush injury, especially if the rider was thrown from the bike. Even a driver in a car can suffer a crush injury. For example if a car hits a wall or another vehicle, the driver or other occupants could get crushed by the metal of the vehicle.

The bigger and heavier a vehicle, the more likely a crush injury is to occur. Faster-moving vehicles will hit an object with more force, which also increases the likelihood of a crush injury.

What Are Some Initial Signs or Symptoms of a Crush Injury After a Crash?

EMTs are trained to recognize symptoms of a serious injury at the crash scene. Early symptoms of a crush injury may include:

  • Pallor – changes in the victim’s skin color
  • Paresthesia – tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Pain with passive movement
  • Severe bruising
  • Deep lacerations
  • Severe bleeding (internally or from a visible wound)
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fractured or crushed bones, which could affect any of a victim’s limbs, ribs, neck, back and head
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Lactic acidosis, which causes intense stomach pain, nausea, burning in the muscles and rapid breathing
  • Nerve damage
  • Extensive damage to muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue

Crush injury victims may also show a drop in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, labored breathing and become less responsive.

Victims exhibiting these symptoms after a car crash need immediate medical treatment for the best chance of recovery and survival.

How Are Crush Injuries Treated?

Treatment for crush injuries varies, depending both on the severity of the injury and where it is located. If the victim is trapped inside a vehicle, difficult decisions may be necessary. For instance, amputating a limb may be the only way to save a victim’s life so he or she can get the emergency treatment needed.

Other crush injury treatments may include:

  • IV therapy to slowly rehydrate fluids into the crushed area
  • Electrolyte replenishment to treat abnormalities resulting from the injury
  • Mannitol therapy and forced alkaline diuresis to help flush toxins out of the kidneys
  • Hemodialysis to help prevent acute renal failure
  • Careful monitoring for cardiac arrhythmias that may result
  • Monitoring crushed extremities for symptoms of compartment syndrome, like pins and needles

Why Are Crush Injuries Resulting From a Car Crash So Dangerous?

The initial damage caused by a crush injury from a car crash is often severe. Even without complications, victims may suffer severe physical damage. In addition to having extreme pain, victims may be unable to move a crushed limb. Other victims may struggle to breathe or suffer life-altering injuries, such as paralysis.

The initial damage from a crush injury, however, is often just the tip of the iceberg for the victim. Victims with crush injuries are at high risk of suffering from:

  • Compartment Syndrome: When limbs get crushed, the extreme pressure causes a sudden death of cells. In turn, the limb may swell, further restricting the blood supply to muscles, tendons and nerves. In acute cases, emergency surgery may be necessary.
  • Hyperkalemia: The result of extreme and sudden pressure to a body part. Damaged cell membranes in the injured area release toxic amounts of potassium into the bloodstream. Hyperkalemia can also cause the victim to go into cardiac arrest.
  • Hypovolemic shock: This can happen if victims lose 15 percent or more of their body’s blood supply. If the heart cannot keep up or pump enough blood to the body, it could lead to multiple system organ failure.
  • Crush Syndrome: Since cells in the affected area will start to die off in only an hour, immediate treatment is required. The body begins to react to a crush injury right away, releasing toxins into the bloodstream. Victims could experience cardiac arrest, metabolic disorders, acute kidney failure and death.

The first four hours of treatment after a crush injury are the most critical. After that, the risk for high-risk complications increases and a full recovery becomes less possible.

Contact Schmidt Kramer After a Car Crash – We Are Here to Help

We have a team of highly qualified and licensed attorneys at Schmidt Kramer. Our law firm has been helping victims of car crashes for decades, recovering millions in compensation for our clients.

If we validate your case and you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. Since we accept injury cases on contingency, we only get paid if we recover compensation through a settlement or jury verdict.

Call our law offices to learn more about the difference we can make to your case.

Proven Results. Millions Recovered. (717) 727-1403