Thoracic—or chest—trauma is one of the most common types of injuries associated with significant car accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 80 percent of severe car crash injuries involve trauma to either the chest or head. Serious chest injuries are also a leading cause of trauma-related deaths in the United States, second only to head injuries, according to the Journal of Thoracic Disease.
Not surprisingly, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of these kind of injuries. And, while anyone can suffer a chest injury in a car crash, research indicates that the risk of sustaining a devastating—or fatal—car accident-related thoracic injury increases with age. As people age, the tissues within the chest weaken or are subject to disease, making them more likely to be injured in a serious car crash.
If you suffered a chest injury following a California car crash, and that crash was caused by another motorist or company's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Here's what you should know if you're considering taking legal action.
Common Causes of Car Crash Chest Injuries
The forces exerted during a car accident can violently move the body within the vehicle—causing the chest to forcibly come into contact with various objects and surfaces inside the vehicle, such as:
- Seat belts: These life-saving safety devices tighten in an accident to hold drivers and passengers in place. However, this can lead to significant chest injuries from frontal impacts and multi-vehicle impacts. The likelihood of chest injuries increase if the accident victim is improperly wearing the seat belt.
- Air bags: Though air bags can save lives in a crash, they deploy at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and, as a result, are capable of causing serious injuries to the chest and face.
- Interior roof: In rollover accidents, the roof or top of the vehicle is a common point of contact for the chest and head.
- Steering wheel: Air bags are primarily designed to deploy during frontal or near-frontal crashes. When an air bag does not deploy—such as during rear-end crash—the driver's body can pitch forward, causing their chest to strike the steering wheel.
- Seat backs: Passengers in the rear of the vehicle may collide with the backs of the front seats.
- Left instrument panel: The chest can also hit the left instrument panel during an accident in which an air bag fails to deploy.
- Windshield: The windshield is a common point of contact for the chest and head during rollovers, frontal, and rear-end crashes.
Chest Injuries Associated With Car Accidents
Car crashes can cause chest injuries from simple abrasions or contusions to more complex injuries. These complex injuries include:
- Sternum and rib fractures
- Tracheal injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage (trauma to the lungs, kidneys, stomach, intestines, spleen, or heart)
These more serious symptoms related to these injuries can include severe pain, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood and/or death.
Car Crash Chest Injuries Require Prompt Medical Evaluation and Treatment
Many chest injury-related deaths are preventable with prompt diagnosis and treatment, which is why it's so important to seek immediate medical attention after an accident. Even if you initially don't feel severely injured it is important to be medically evaluated. While some chest injuries are obvious, others may not be immediately noticeable due to a surge of adrenaline and other hormones at the time of the injuries. The moment you feel or see any evidence of a chest injury, immediately seek medical care and have a proper medical examination.
When talking with the doctor, make sure you let them know of all your injuries and if you recall hitting your chest during the crash. This can help them identify and diagnose potentially life-threatening injuries. In less dire cases, reporting all your injuries allows the doctors and medical professionals to document the injury in your medical records, making it easier to connect late-appearing injuries to the accident.
Did You Sustain Chest Injuries in an Accident? The Inland Empire Law Group Can Help You Protect Your Right to a Fair Recovery.
If you were hurt in an accident that wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact the Inland Empire Law Group today at (888) 694-3529 to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation. Our experienced California car accident attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and explore your options for compensation.