Car accidents are dangerous and can cause severe injuries. Whiplash and concussions might be the first injuries you imagine when you hear of a car crash, but rib cage injuries are also common. Car crashes create significant force, and the trauma that force creates could easily damage the rib cage.
Learn more about possible rib injuries, how they’re diagnosed, and if there’s any compensation available after a car crash.
What Kind of Rib Injuries Can Car Accidents Cause?
Rib injuries can vary, but most are associated with pain and discomfort. The rib cage forms the chest, with 24 bones total, with some connected to the sternum or breastbone. The cage surrounds essential internal organs like the heart and lungs. The bones in the upper rib cage are more rigid, and the ribs become more flexible as you move down the cage. Cartilage connects the bones and helps keep the structure of the rib cage.
Ribs are designed to expand as humans breathe, and when these bones are injured, breathing could become painful. Some injuries are so severe that the rib cage collapses, creating an imminent threat to someone’s health.
Some common rib injuries after a car accident include:
- Bruised ribs: An impact against the steering wheel or seatbelt in a car after a car accident could lead to a strain or injury to the cartilage, tissue, or muscles of the chest wall.
- Fractured or broken ribs: Like any bone in the body, any force or impact can damage ribs. Ribs can break or fracture. Some injuries are severe enough to break the skin.
- Intercostal strains: Ribs are attached to other bones with cartilage or muscle. Extreme force can strain, pull, or tear the muscles on your ribs.
- Flail chest injury: Often the most severe rib injury, flail chest injuries happen when three or more ribs break in two or more places. The rib cage might lose its shape, and the bones will have weakened integrity.
- Soft tissue injuries: The muscles and tissues around your ribs move them as you breathe. Severe impacts can damage those tissues, affecting your health.
- Costochondral separation: Some of your ribs are connected to the sternum, or breastbone, with cartilage. Car crashes can separate the cartilage from the rib or breastbone.
Rib Injury Symptoms
Depending on the severity of the crash and the resulting injuries, your symptoms will vary. You might be mildly discomforted, or you could barely be able to breathe.
Some injuries will be apparent: bruising around a painful area, difficulty breathing, or extreme rib cage tenderness. Other injuries might cause spasming or make it hard to move around.
Diagnosing and Treating Rib Injuries
If left untreated or undiagnosed, your rib injuries could complicate your health. The rib cage protects your internal organs, and if it’s compromised, your health could be in extreme danger.
Medical professionals have a few methods to diagnose rib injuries, like:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- CT Scan
Once a medical provider has determined the extent of your injuries, they can decide on the necessary treatment method. Methods range from non-invasive to surgeries, but all aim to get you healthy again.
Many fractures can be treated with rest, icing, or readily available medication. You may need to use some breathing exercises to keep your lungs healthy.
In extreme cases, you might need surgery to fix your ribs, especially if any of your internal organs were damaged in the crash. Surgeons may need to reattach your ribs using wires, screws, pins, or metal plates. They may even graft your bones, if they aren’t regrowing correctly.
Dangers of Rib Fracture Treatment
Just like any medical procedure, things might not go exactly as planned when your ribs are being treated. Sometimes, the bones won’t line back up, causing a “malunion.” In other cases, they don’t go back together completely or at all, which is called a “nonunion.”
In cases where ribs have punctured the skin, there’s the risk of a bacterial infection of the bone, called “osteomyelitis.”
What Kind of Car Accidents Cause Rib Injuries?
Rib injuries are caused by impacts to the chest area. You can suffer a chest injury in a car accident when your momentum causes you to collide with the steering wheel, dashboard, door, or even the seatbelt of the car.
Car crashes that can cause rib injuries include:
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do to Help Me?
If your ribs have been damaged in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence or reckless acts, you are entitled to compensation. Under Illinois law, you have two years from the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. That may seem like a large window to recover financial damages, but that clock starts ticking the day you were injured. For the best chance of securing compensation, you should call an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer.
Your attorney will be able to investigate your case, determine the extent and cost of your injuries, and identify anyone who shares the blame for your injured ribs. They can help you determine your economic and non-economic damages: the out-of-pocket expenses and intangible costs of your injuries, respectively.
A seasoned personal injury lawyer will understand the Illinois claims process, and be ready to help you negotiate your claim or take it to court if necessary. They won’t back down and leave you financially hurting after a car accident injury.
Call a Chicago Rib Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a Chicago car accident, you need help financially recovering. You should not have to pay for your medical treatments if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. You should call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., for help today.
We’ve been helping Chicagoans pursue compensation for years. We’ve helped our clients recover millions of dollars. We understand how traumatic car crashes can be, and how confusing the personal injury claims process is. We’re ready to hear your case and get you on the path to recovery.