What Makes it Tough to Get Your Rib Fractures Claim?

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Personal Injury

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Motor vehicle accidents can be devastating, especially when vital organs get damaged due to hidden fractures. Are you involved in any violent auto accidents? The excruciating pain you undergo in your chest cavity, and the breathing difficulty can be indicators of rib fractures. They are warnings to get immediate medical attention to avoid intense damage to the internal organs.

If you are injured due to the negligence of someone else, don’t hesitate to claim for your rib fractures. The insurers might not consider your rib fracture and will try to denigrate your rib fracture claim value. With the requisite support of a litigator, you can claim the most of your deserved recompense. Let us know more about the complications of the broken ribs and the possible settlement for fractured ribs here.

Rib Fractures – Facts to Know

Our rib cage is the chest cavity, which protects the internal organs like the lungs, heart, liver, etc., from being damaged. It also provides enough space for the lungs to expand freely while we breathe. The upper and middle ribs are connected to the spine and chest bone. The lower ribs are more flexible and connected only to the spine. The rib cage is made strong by the chest muscles. When extreme pressure is exerted during heavy impacts on the rib cage, one or more ribs can be fractured. The worst rib fractures increase the risk of damage to the other organs. Blunt trauma to the thoracic region causes extreme pressure on the ribs and makes them break.

The potential reasons for rib fractures can be intense impacts from motor vehicle accidents, falls from heights, contact sports like football, hockey, etc., domestic abuse, osteoporosis, and cancerous lesions. Even heavy coughing can fracture weak ribs.

Automobile Accidents and Rib Fractures

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), trauma to the chest cavity is mainly caused by motor vehicle accidents. Among the people who suffered chest trauma in road accidents, 34% were pedestrians, 29% were drivers, and 15% were motorcyclists. When 9% of the front seat passengers encountered at least one broken rib from car accidents, only 6% of the rear passengers were affected. Multiple rib fractures are correlated to the morbidity and mortality of the patients, which is less in younger patients and more in older patients.

Nearly 10% of ER patients worldwide have undergone blunt thoracic trauma. Such trauma to the chest region is the second-most common reason behind head injuries, which lead to a high mortality rate. In two-thirds of these patients, at least one rib is fractured.

Automobile accidents like car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents stand as major causes of rib fractures. In rear-end collisions, the tremendous force will thrust humans forward. The seat belts provided to protect us from injuries can be the culprit in injuring the ribs during such heavy impacts. Other than seat belt compressions, airbag compressions also play a part in contributing to rib injuries. In enormous fore-ended impacts and T-bone accidents, lungs, liver, and spleen are often injured when the serrated ribs pierce them.

Acceleration or deceleration, if the trauma is tremendous, a rib fracture cannot be avoided. Elderly people with arthritis or osteoporosis are more susceptible to rib fractures while encountering heavy impacts on the thoracic region. When compared to the other type of incidents, sternum fractures are 3% higher. Don’t be fooled by the delayed rib pain after car accident.

Delayed rib pain after a car accident is a phenomenon that should not be taken lightly. Seek medical attention as early as possible to avoid complications and to get fractured sternum compensation without much battle. To get your car accident broken ribs settlement, your medical records should be accurate and error-free.

1. Symptoms of Rib Fracture

People with broken ribs will have concomitant symptoms such as

  • Pain while breathing
  • Pain when one laughs, sneezes, or coughs
  • Pain in the fractured area
  • Pain when force was applied to the breastbone
  • Shortness of breath or hypoventilation
  • Anxiety, fear, restlessness
  • Dizziness, and headache due to Hypercapnia ( carbon dioxide build-up in blood vessels)
  • Hypoxia or lack of oxygen supply to the cells and tissues
  • Atelectasis or partial collapse of the lung

Whether the fracture is simple or complex, the pain will be horrible since every breath is agonizing.

Types of rib fractures can range from simple, nondisplaced breaks to more complicated fractures such as flail chest, where multiple ribs are broken in more than one place, severely compromising lung function and requiring immediate medical intervention.

2. How are rib fractures diagnosed?

Physicians will gently press the chest area to check for fractures. They analyze the broken rib symptoms, and the patient narrates. They can detect a serious rib fracture while listening to the breathing pattern of the patient. They use radiographic devices like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to diagnose the nature of the fracture.

  1. X-rays can reveal broken ribs and lung damage using low-level radiation. Sometimes mild cracks may not be clearly visible in x-rays.
  2. CT scans form images from multiple images from different angles to detect fractures and cracks. They give clear images of the mild fractures. Even damage to the blood vessels and tissues can be visibly noted in CT scans.
  3. As the MRIs use powerful magnetic fields, it will be easy to detect organ damage due to the broken ribs and their severity. Even hairline fracture in ribs will be unmasked in MRIs.
  4. A bone scan uses radioactive materials injected into the blood vessels. These elements gather around the bones and help to perceive the fresh cracks in the ribs.

chest-x-ray-rib-fractures-blunt-chest-wall-injuried-patient X-ray of the chest showed rib fractures post blunt trauma to the chest following a motor vehicle accident.

3. Complications of Rib Fractures

Simple rib fractures like rib hairline fractures are not dangerous and will heal on their own. Sometimes broken ribs can protrude and potentially rupture the internal organs and result in life-threatening rib fracture complications. Some of the rib injury types (rib fracture types) and broken rib complications are listed below:


  • Traumatic aortic injuries: The topmost ribs are too strong to break easily. If one of those first three ribs is broken, it can damage the aorta or another major blood vessel. Heart trauma also can be possible.
  • Pneumothorax: The middle ribs are not that strong. Therefore, when the serrated middle rib collapses the lung and creates an air leakage, it creates a risky condition called pneumothorax.
  • Lacerations to the spleen, liver, and kidney: The two bottom ribs rarely fracture as they are more flexible. However, when broken, the ragged ends can potentially rupture the spleen, liver, or kidney.
  • Flail chest: When the ribs are broken into pieces, the separated ribs may move out of their place while one breathes. This costochondral separation is called a flail chest.
  • Sternum fractures: When the chest strikes against the steering wheel or compresses due to the seat belt sternum can be damaged.

4. Treatment for Rib Fractures

In other fractures, a cast can help with immobility and cure the fracture. For the first rib fracture treatment, rest and mild analgesia would be more than enough. However, a cast or chest wrap cannot be given for rib fractures as it may lead to pneumonia or partial lung collapse. You have to follow the methods given below to recuperate.

  • Proper rest and ice packs: With proper rest and care, most rib hairline fractures heal within four to six weeks. An ice pack is advised to relieve the pain.
  • Stay away from stressful activities: Patients should avoid exhausting activities that will put pressure on the injured region, like pulling or lifting weights or running.
  • Pain management: The prominent broken rib treatment includes pain medications. Narcotics or over-the-counter medications will be recommended by the physicians to control the pain. To control extreme pain, anesthetic medicines will be injected for a short period of time.
  • Breathe deeply: The patients will be advised to take deep breaths and cough now and then to prevent lung infections or pneumonia.
  • Surgery: In extreme cases, if the lungs are punctured, surgery will be done to remove the blood clot or the air in the chest cavity. In rare cases, metal plates are used to stabilize the broken ribs.

Personal Injury Claim for Rib Fractures

Evaluating the rib injury caused by an automobile accident is not as easy as other injuries. Depending on the broken rib complications, the broken rib settlement amount would differ. Here we analyze the factors involved in rib injury compensation claims.

  • Medical records: All the other claims are computed based on the medical bills for the extensive treatments, whereas no elaborate treatment is given for the broken rib treatment other than pain medications. Therefore, it will be difficult to get the desired compensation for fractured ribs in the absence of sufficient records. The radiology reports, rib fracture medication prescriptions, and treatment bills must be saved for litigation proceedings. They are the inevitable pieces of evidence in winning your average settlement for fractured sternum and ribs.
  • Insurers disparage the severity of injuries: The insurance companies tend to minimize the restitution, pointing out the absence of medical records for your broken ribs. The delay in the initial treatments and the gap between treatments will be raised as an issue by the medical insurance companies to minimize the rib fracture claims. That is the reason why people with only rib fractures happen to get very few broken ribs car accident settlements.
  • Extreme pain must be recorded: Though there is not much proof to support the rib fracture treatment, the pain you undergo will be far worse than other injuries. Every breath you take will be horrendous. Substantiating your pain level to the physicians starting from the ER is inevitable. Your pain scale value can be crucial to your claim.
  • More extensive the injuries, the more the value for your rib fracture claim: An injury to the chest or sternum is a more serious injury that needs extensive treatment. Grave injuries add to the recompense, like in broken sternum lawsuits. The long-term effects of broken ribs will be considered when deciding the compensation. Depending on the location of the fracture and the other serious injuries, the broken ribs lawsuit settlements may vary.
  • Degree of disability: Some rib fractures may even disable a person permanently, preventing him from taking jobs that require lifting weights.

Damages Claimed in Rib Injury Claims

With the help of an exemplary personal injury attorney, you can evaluate the pain and suffering you have undergone due to the rib fractures and proceed with your claim. Like all the other personal injury claims, you can claim your general and special losses. General damages refer to the non-economic damages like

  • Pain and suffering: The extreme pain experienced in every breath is valued.
  • Emotional distress: The mental anguish, anxiety, and stress generated by the injuries in the victim’s life are prized.
  • Loss of consortium: The deprivation of love, care, affection, support, guidance, comfort, and companionship from the victim to the family is evaluated.
  • Loss of quality of life: Loss of ability to participate in social enjoyment and recreational activities and damage to the reputation are considered.
  • Impairment: The degree of disability and disfigurement which affects life due to the injuries are calculated.

The special losses consist of the economic damages like

  • Medical expenses: Costs of hospital care, radiology tests, medications, and therapies are evaluated.
  • Lost wages: More time taken to recuperate can lead to a loss of income. Missed workdays are counted.
  • Property damage: You can claim for all the properties which are damaged during the impact.
  • Cost of medical assistance: In acute rib injury cases, the assistance of caretakers, special medical devices, and modifications at home may be needed
  • Rehabilitation costs: For severe rib fractures, extreme care and long recuperation time away from the job are unavoidable to convalesce. Depending on the severity of the injury, the quality of life in the future changes. The elderly will have to stay away from activities that exert pressure on the chest.

What is a fractured sternum worth? Without insurance, the typical cost of diagnosing and treating a broken sternum can range from less than $500 for a simple sternal fracture that does not necessitate hospitalization to around $8,000 or more if other injuries, such as heart or lung injuries, are suspected, and hospitalization is required. Broken sternum car accident settlement depends on all these factors.

How much compensation for broken ribs in car accidents can you get? The usual compensation amount for broken ribs in a car accident claim ranges from $15,000 to $100,000, depending on the complexity of the rib fracture. The more broken ribs there are, the greater the case value and average settlement for broken ribs.

Average Settlement for Car Accident Broken Ribs

Average payout for broken ribs range from a few thousand dollars to a few million dollars depending on the severity of rib fractures and needed treatments.

Case 1:

A worker was involved in a work-related t-bone car accident and sustained multiple rib fractures, shoulder and spine injuries. He had costochondral and chondrosternal rib separation, multiple disc hernations and underwent many complicated surgeries to recover from the injury. His rib fracture claim ended in a broken ribs compensation of more than $4.40 million.

Case 2:

An old truck driver encountered multiple fractures to his arms, ribs and hip necessitating extensive surgeries. He was out of work for almost a year due to his fractures. He was awarded around $4 million as broken ribs car accident settlements.

Case 3:

A woman sustained fractures to multiple ribs and pelvis in a side impact accident. Her mobility was in question due to the severity of her fractures. For her extensive pain and suffering and future medical expenses, the jury awarded her more than $3 million in average payout for broken ribs.

Case 4:

A woman received around $2.9 million in rib fracture compensation for her broken ribs and lower limb fractures.

To wind up,

Mighty impacts in auto accidents can cripple your ribs and generate chest pain. If you suspect possible fractured ribs after a car accident, avert body movements. Seeking immediate medical attention on time will not only aid you in avoiding more damage but also strengthen your broken sternum lawsuit or other rib fracture claims.

Be accurate in documenting your pain and symptoms to invigorate your litigation. Since most rib fracture cases do not need surgery or long hospitalization, medical records will be fewer in number. Only if those medical records, your symptoms, and other accident-related reports are accurate and consistent with your injuries can you get the deserved rib cage fracture compensation. Obtain the help of a proficient lawyer to learn about the possibilities of winning your deserved sternum fracture compensation.

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