When you’re involved in an auto accident, one of the risks is that your ribs could be broken. The ribs may crack but stay in place, a painful but non-life-threatening injury, or they could break and move out of alignment, which could cause a life-threatening scenario.
When the ribs break and move, there is a real risk that they could puncture the lungs, aorta, spleen, liver or kidney. It’s possible for blood or air to gather in the chest and cause hemothorax or pneumothorax, too, which can be severe enough to limit’s someone ability to take a breath in or out.
While most cases of broken ribs heal on their own and don’t cause any major damage, the risk of the jagged edge of a broken bone causing damage is real. Those who are in crashes and who have chest pain do need to be seen by a medical professional to assess the injured area and determine if a medical intervention is needed.
Symptoms of broken ribs
The symptoms of broken ribs include:
- Trouble taking in a deep breath
- An inability to bend or twist the body without pain
- Pain when pressing on the injured area
If the ribs are severely broken, they may cause additional issues such as:
- Trouble breathing due to fluid or air in the cavity around the lungs
- Fluid in the lungs
- Damage to the spleen, kidneys or liver
It’s common to see broken ribs in auto accidents when people don’t wear their seatbelts correctly, since the impact is not spread across the collarbone and shoulders but instead the rib cage in its entirety. Direct chest trauma may also be a cause, as can wearing a seat belt correctly if the impact forces the belt to lock suddenly against the body with great force.
If you are injured in a crash, seek immediate medical attention
Even if you think your injuries are mild, it’s possible that you could have a broken rib out of place or that could cause further damage without an intervention like surgery to reset the bone. Seek medical care, and remember that you have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to make up for any financial losses.