Fractured or broken ribs from car accidents are generally due to impact to the chest area during the collision. Breaks or cracks can occur when the driver collides with the steering wheel, when a passenger collides with the dash, or under the sheer force of the seatbelt against the chest during a high impact collision.
The rib cage encloses the body’s thoracic cavity, which contains the lungs. Rib fractures, which are painful and can take months to heal, are the most common type of injury that occurs when there is blunt trauma to the thorax (chest region), according to the medical journal Clinics. The ribs located at the uppermost section are largely protected by our shoulder blades and collarbone. The lower ribs are more flexible and, therefore, more susceptible to injury during an accident.
What are some common symptoms of fractured ribs?
There are 12 pairs of ribs in the human body; during a serious car wreck, any of the 24 ribs can potentially sustain an injury. Some fractures are partial cracks, while others are so severe that the bone is fully broken into two or more pieces.
Cracked ribs cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort. Fully broken ribs are even more painful, and also have a tendency to be far more dangerous because it is not uncommon for a fully broken rib to puncture and damage nearby organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, the spleen, or the liver. Broken ribs can also puncture the aorta, the body’s main artery.
Broken ribs limit the victim’s ability to take deep breaths. Attempting to breathe deeply proves to be very painful. Other symptoms of a fractured or broken rib include the following.
- Tenderness and pain in the affected area that worsens upon touch
- Pain when you bend or twist your body
- Tightness in chest
- The sensation of bone scraping across bone
- Pain when coughing
- Swelling and bruising in the fractured area
- Internal bleeding
How are broken ribs diagnosed?
When a car accident victim sustains rib breaks or fractures, there are usually other accompanying injuries. And oftentimes, the other injuries overshadow the rib fractures to the point that the fractures may actually be initially overlooked by doctors.
Failing to recognize and diagnose broken or fractured ribs can be quite dangerous, though. The authors of “An analysis of 214 cases of rib fractures” in Clinics cautioned: “When proper follow-up and treatment are not provided, [broken ribs] may result in morbidity or mortality. The risk of mortality particularly increases with advanced age, a higher number of rib fractures, complications, and associated chest injuries.”
If you suspect a fractured rib, call your doctor or visit the hospital as soon as possible. The physician can order x-rays to confirm and pinpoint the damage.
How do doctors treat fractured or broken ribs?
After diagnosis, your doctor may advise you to wear a chest binder order to protect your ribs while you heal and allow you to breathe properly and more comfortably. Other parts of a treatment plan for broken ribs usually include the following.
- Moderated activity – Doctors order most patients with fractured ribs to get ample amounts of rest and reduce their physical activity to allow their bodies time to heal. You will likely to have to take a good bit of time off of work to heal, particularly if you have a physically active job.
- Breathing exercises – It is also important to consciously take periodic deep breaths during the healing process. It may be painful to inhale deeply, but it is important in keeping the lungs healthy and free of infections such as pneumonia.
- Medication – Doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain medications to manage the pain, as well as anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling around the injured ribs. If the pain is substantial, prescriptions may be necessary.
- Physical therapy – Therapists can recommend certain exercises to teach you how to move without pain, while at the same time keeping up your strength and circulation.
- Surgery – Surgery may be required if a portion of the rib cage becomes detached from the chest wall or to repair a punctured organ or blood vessel.
Can I recover damages for rib injuries after a car accident?
There is a good possibility that if another party was mostly responsible for your accident, you may qualify to file a liability claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for your losses. Much depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident, how severe your injuries are, what type of insurance you carry, and whether or not you handle you case carefully.
Pursuing a broken rib liability claim takes a good amount of preparation, evidence, knowledge of negligence laws, and fortitude. Overstepping time limits, failing to abide by legal protocols, and not submitting a completely comprehensive list of damages are just a few of the mistakes victims make when they represent themselves. Enlist in the help a local personal injury attorney for assistance to protect yourself when submitting your claim or filing a suit.
If your claim is successful, you may be able to recover damage for things such as following.
- Diagnostic tests, hospital bills, surgeries, and other medical bills
- Prescriptions, chest braces, and other treatments
- Lost wages
- The cost of hiring people for household tasks that your injuries prevent you from doing
- Pain and suffering
Can Cordisco & Saile LLC help me with pursue compensation for damages?
Expenses can rack up quickly for broken rib injuries, and recovery can be a lengthy process. Because damages can be so substantial, consider speaking with local accident attorney about your case. When you have suffered as a result of another’s neglect such as in a car accident, your case deserves thorough review so that you can fully recover for your losses.
The car accident attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC are here to help you do just that. Do not rely on the insurance company to entirely explain what you may be entitled to. Only a lawyer that is working as your advocate will be able to do that with your best interests in mind.
Contact us today at 215-642-2335 to discuss your accident and schedule a free consultation. In the meantime, you can download a free copy of our book, Don’t Crash Again! A Car Accident Victim’s Guide to Maximizing Recovery, to learn more about car accident claims and what you should do next.