One of the most painful experiences anyone can have is suffering from a broken rib or, even worse, multiple broken ribs. Simple activities such as getting out of a chair, sleeping, or even breathing can be excruciatingly painful and exhausting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2.3 million occupants become injured in car accidents every year, and fractured ribs are one of the all too common injuries that we see. If you have been injured by another negligent driver, contact a California car accident attorney at once to discuss your legal options for compensation.
Rib Related Injuries
When the rib cage experiences a traumatic blow from the steering wheel, dashboard, other interior car parts, outside debris, the occupant’s knees, or if their arm gets caught between the airbag and the body, ribs can be broken. In the wrong circumstances, even a seat belt can cause a rib fracture. The rib cage provides vital protection to the heart, lungs, and other organs. However, if a rib is fractured badly and severs a blood vessel or punctures an organ, the victim’s life may be in jeopardy. If a rib punctures a lung it can cause a collapsed lung (also called pneumothorax). The kidneys are susceptible to damage because of their size and location, and can easily and quickly bleed out from an internal puncture. Furthermore, if three or more ribs become fractured in multiple places, it can lead to flail chest, which is a serious complication that renders the victim unable to breath (or breathe with great difficulty). Flail chest creates a decreased space within the chest cavity for the lungs to expand into and decreased muscle function, which is why breathing becomes labored or impossible. Flail chest is a serious, life-threatening complication and the use of an assisted breathing machine (a ventilator) may be required.
Symptoms of a Fractured Rib
After a car accident, you may experience some of the following symptoms of a fractured rib. If you notice any of these that last for more than a day, and you have not sought medical attention, it is imperative that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Chest pain at rest
- Chest pain to the touch
- Breathing pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Unable to take a full breath of air
- Anxiety or fear due to breathing trouble
- Becoming abnormally sleepy, dizzy, or tired
Recovering From an Injury
There is no quick fix for a fractured rib. Instead of a cast, the ribs must heal on their own with rest and time. However, in very serious cases only, surgery may be performed to set the ribs with screws or plates. In normal scenarios, the following protocol will be used:
- Ice for 20-30 minutes at a time for two to three days
- Extra sleep and rest
- Pain medication and anti-inflammatories
- Refrain from exercise, movements, or daily routines that cause chest pain
- Take a cough or deep breath once per hour to stave off contracting pneumonia or other lung complications
If you have been injured by a negligent driver, contact The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.