Suffering an injury to your ribs is quite common in a car accident, and, unfortunately, is one of the most painful experiences you could endure. Broken, cracked, or bruised ribs can make it difficult to breathe or hinder your movement. However, even though rib injuries are common, they are difficult to fully diagnose without a thorough medical examination. They also lead to further complications and may require a lengthy recovery. If you have suffered a rib injury following a car accident, it is an absolute must to have the injury properly documented to have all damages covered.
How Does a Car Accident Injure Your Ribs?
The impact of a car accident alone is enough to cause an injury to the ribcage. Of course, a direct hit, especially for a pedestrian or motorcyclist, will break any bone, let alone the ribs. But there are parts inside the vehicle that can harm the ribs as well, such as the following:
- Seat belts. Although they are meant to protect, seat belts can inflict enough force to the ribs to cause major damage. When a vehicle suddenly stops, the impact of an accident causes the body to jolt forward and the seat belt will lock; enough applied force from the seat belt holding the body back can cause an injury.
- Airbags. Airbags deploy at an extremely fast speed when a collision occurs and can cause a rib injury to those in its path, to either driver or passengers, depending on where the vehicle has the airbags located.
- Steering wheel. If the seat belt is not worn properly, it is entirely possible for the body to collide with the steering wheel, causing major damage and possibly death. This can occur even at low-speed accidents.
- Objects. Following a collision, objects inside and outside the vehicle can be propelled at speeds to cause harm to the rib area.
What Are the Symptoms of Broken Ribs?
The ribs protect some of the body’s most vital organs from damage. There are a total of 24 ribs that surround the body’s thoracic cavity and provide defense for the heart, liver, lungs, and the main artery, the aorta. Because of the protection they provide, it is imperative to know if they have been damaged. Symptoms may depend on the location and severity of the rib injury, but generally include the following:
- Bruising or swelling in ribcage area
- Sharp pains in chest
- Painful coughing
- Labored breathing or chest tightness
- Tenderness in affected area or painful to touch
- Internal pain or bleeding
- Pain when turning body or bending over
If you experience any of these symptoms after getting in a car accident, it is extremely important to seek medical attention immediately.
How Are Rib Injuries Diagnosed?
A doctor or medical professional can help evaluate whether ribs are bruised, broken, or fractured, simply with physical tests or utilizing an X-ray or MRI. It is also imperative that the injured party describes their symptoms, if possible, to the doctor so the injury can be determined and what treatment is needed. Severity of the injury can increase for the elderly and if multiple ribs were broken, likely causing further internal damage as well. When properly diagnosed, treatment can begin right away, possibly limiting complications.
How Are Rib Injuries Treated?
A rib injury could lead to collapsed lungs or other life-threatening issues. They could also lead to health complications that could last years to heal. Your doctor will likely develop a treatment plan tailored to your injury and to prevent any further complications. Some treatments for bruised or broken ribs include the following:
- Medication. Most rib injuries, if not severe, are treated with over-the-counter pain medications, as ribs heal themselves. The time it takes to heal could be lengthy, so pain management is vital to a full recovery. If the injury is more severe or over-the-counter medications are not helping, the doctor will likely treat the injury with prescription medication.
- Exercises. Regardless of severity, a rib injury will hinder your breathing to some degree. Breathing exercises will likely be needed to help the patient live more comfortably, as well as helping to free up the airways.
- Rest. Rest is important for the treatment of rib injuries. Reducing physical activity and letting the body heal itself will likely mean more time away from work for an unspecified period.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be prescribed as part of treatment to help teach the patient different movements and exercises to help manage pain. Physical therapy can also help build strength and muscle mass following extended periods of rest.
- Surgery. In more severe rib injuries, surgery may be necessary, particularly if the broken rib punctured an organ or if there is any detachment from the chest.
How Can I Be Compensated for a Rib Injury?
Rib injuries can require lengthy evaluations, treatment plans, and subsequent recovery time. If you have suffered a rib injury in a car accident, you must first be evaluated by a doctor to know the extent of the injury. It is best to keep the following records as well:
- Medical bills
- Evaluations, doctor’s note, and treatment plans, including prescriptions
- Proof of loss of income and time off work
- A journal of daily activities you can no longer perform because of injury and their costs, such as hiring a shopper to get groceries or hiring an at-home nurse
- Pain and suffering
Because most rib injuries require treatments that are closer to pain management than highly expensive procedures such as surgery, most insurance claims focus solely on the actual dollar amount and not the victim’s pain and suffering. All records of the injury must be properly documented to have all damages covered.
Finally, contacting an experienced car accident lawyer is the best way to recover all damages you have incurred in the car accident. Because of the extensive recovery time and piling medical bills, your losses can accumulate quickly; without the assistance of a car accident lawyer, you may never financially recover from the rib injury.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Those Injured by Negligent Drivers
Rib injuries are one of the most common car accident injuries, but they affect every person differently. Regardless of severity, a rib injury can lead to weeks of treatment and even lengthier time away from work. If you have suffered a rib injury in an accident, contact the New Jersey car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our knowledgeable team of lawyers will fight to obtain the best compensation possible for your case. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.