While not the most lethal injury sustained in a car crash, fractured ribs can be one of the most painful. As anyone who has ever fractured or even badly bruised their ribs will tell you, the recovery process is long, frustrating, and excruciating. Simply not being able to breathe properly is frightening in and of itself. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2.3 million people suffer serious injuries on the roadways every year, thousands of which injuries are fractured ribs. People can fracture ribs simply from coughing, but in a car crash, the most likely way to fracture a rib is from a direct blow to the chest (the steering wheel is a prime example). If you have suffered a break in the cartilage connecting the rib cage together, it is still referred to as a broken rib and the pain and recovery can be just as miserable.
Fractured Ribs can be Lethal Under the Wrong Circumstances
The purpose of the rib-cage is to offer protection for vital organs, and to offer a frame for core and chest muscles on which to perform their duties (breathing, for example). When a rib or multiple ribs are fully fractured, they can sever the organs beneath or slice through blood vessels. This can cause organ damage, internal bleeding, and collapsed lung (termed pneumothorax). It is vital to seek medical attention after a car wreck that leaves you unable to breathe properly or causes serious chest. In the event that three or more ribs are fractured in multiple places, it is called flail chest. Flail chest is a serious injury that reduces the victim’s ability to breath, due to a loss of space within the chest cavity and loss of muscle function used to breathe.
The Signs and Symptoms of a Fractured Rib Following a San Diego Car Accident
If you notice any of the signs or symptoms listed below, seek medical attention immediately and contact an experienced San Diego car accident attorney to discuss the compensation you may be owed:
- Chest pain;
- Pain when taking a breath;
- Pain when you or another presses on your chest;
- Breathing difficulties;
- Shortness of breath;
- Anxiety or fear;
- Headache; and
- Feeling sleepy, dizzy, or tired.
The Recovery Process of Fractured Ribs
Unlike a splint or cast for a broken arm, there is not very much that can be done for a fractured or badly bruised rib. The most important thing to remember is that rest and time will heal it, and taking it easy until then is the best thing you can do. Other than that, follow the steps listed below:
- Apply ice within the first two to three days for 20 to 30 minutes (not directly to the skin);
- Get plenty of sleep and rest;
- Take over the counter pain medication or medication prescribed by your doctor; and
- Cough or take a very deep breath every hour, despite the pain it may cause, to help prevent pneumonia or partial collapse of the lung tissue.
If you or a loved one fractured a rib or multiple ribs in a car accident that was no fault of your own, there is a chance that you are entitled to collect compensation from the negligent party. Give the law offices of Berman & Riedel, LLP a call today at 858-350-8855 for a free consultation.