The chest houses your body’s most important organs and the major blood vessels that connect them. Any time you experience a chest injury, you could suffer life-threatening consequences. Even a minor thump to the chest could set in motion a series of events that lands you in the hospital with a serious heart or lung condition.
Here is some information about the causes and effects of chest injuries and the compensation you can recover for them.
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How Chest Injuries Occur
Chest injuries happen due to trauma to the chest. Chest injuries fall into three groups, which are based on the cause of the chest injury.
A penetrating chest injury happens when an object penetrates the chest cavity through the skin. Penetrating chest injuries will almost always require examination by a doctor. You could die if an object lacerates your lungs, heart, or major blood vessels.
Blunt trauma happens when a force strikes your chest without penetrating the chest cavity. Blunt trauma can bruise the chest. Blunt trauma can also stretch or tear the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the chest.
Blunt trauma can also break or deform bones. A broken rib can damage the organs in the chest cavity if the broken end penetrates the organs or the membranes surrounding them.
Crushing trauma happens when a weight presses down on the chest. Crushing trauma poses all the risks of blunt trauma with the added risk of suffocation. When the lungs do not have room to expand, the body might not get enough air. This will starve your cells of the oxygen they need to live.
Risk Factors for Chest Injuries
Chest trauma can happen in almost any accident. Some accidents pose a greater risk of chest injuries due to the forces involved.
Examples of accidents that can injure your chest include:
Car accidents can cause blunt force injuries when your chest hits the steering wheel or seat belt in a collision. In a side-impact crash, your chest could strike the side door. The government does not require cars to have side-impact airbags. Those that do have side airbags only stop your head from striking the doorpost and side window.
Car accidents can also lead to crushing injuries. A collision can push the door or steering column into your chest. This could crush your chest and even trap you inside the car.
Penetrating injuries can also result from a car accident. Gear shifts, steering columns, and objects from outside the vehicle, like signposts, can penetrate your chest during a collision.
Workplaces pose many risks for chest injuries. Falls lead to more emergency room visits than any other type of accident. Falls can lead to blunt trauma or penetrating trauma to the chest.
Workplace accidents can also cause crushing chest injuries. You could be crushed by a falling object or vehicle or become trapped in a machine.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can cause a chest injury when you impact the ground. You can also suffer a chest injury during a slip and fall if you strike an object as you fall. For example, in a slip and fall on a staircase, you could hit the handrail and the ground during your fall.
Motorcycle accidents pose three risks of chest injury. The impact with the vehicle can cause blunt trauma if the vehicle hits your chest. Your chest could also impact the ground as you get knocked off balance and fall. Finally, you could be crushed if you become trapped under your motorcycle or the vehicle that hit you.
Types of Chest Injuries
Chest injuries can range in severity from minor to fatal. Some common chest injuries that arise from chest trauma include:
Bruising happens when a chest injury causes blood vessels under the skin to burst. Chest bruises will heal on their own over time. But chest bruises can also signify where more serious injuries, like broken ribs, might have happened.
Dislocations and Fractures
Your chest includes your ribs, sternum, and collarbones. These bones protect your heart and lungs from blunt, crushing, and penetrating trauma. But in the process, they can dislocate or fracture.
A dislocated or fractured rib will cause you pain. Your doctor will also examine the area near your dislocated or fractured rib to determine whether the rib damaged underlying organs when it deformed.
When multiple ribs break in multiple locations, the pieces of rib rest on the surface of the lungs rather than supporting and protecting them.
A flail chest can inhibit your breathing. The characteristic symptom of a flail chest is an area of your chest that moves in the opposite direction as the rest of your chest when you breathe. Specifically, an area affected by flail chest moves inward when you inhale and outward when you exhale.
Commonly called a collapsed lung, a pneumothorax happens when a penetrating wound allows air to enter the area surrounding the lung. The air pressure prevents the lung from expanding.
Doctors must treat pneumothorax immediately because it can inhibit breathing and cause enormous amounts of pain.
Cardiac tamponade happens when blood fills the pericardial sac that surrounds the heart. The pressure of the blood prevents the heart from beating properly and will cause death without immediate treatment.
Compensation for Chest Injuries
After an accident caused by the negligence of a person or business, you can seek compensation for your injuries. If those injuries include chest trauma, you could recover substantial compensation.
Your damages include your medical expenses and lost income. Chest injuries like a collapsed lung require expensive emergency care. The damage you sustain to your heart and lungs due to a chest injury could inhibit your ability to work and require weeks or months of therapy. During this time, you could lose substantial income.
You can also claim compensation for your pain and suffering. Chest injuries can be extremely painful. Damage to your heart and lungs can lead to permanent restrictions on your activities. This diminishment in your quality of life can justify damages for pain and suffering.
A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you to determine what kinds of damages might be appropriate in your case.
To discuss the compensation you might be able to receive for your chest injuries, contact Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation. We’ll listen to the details surrounding your injury and help you to determine your next best legal steps.