Table of Contents
- 1 Overview:
- 2 Rib Fractures – Facts to Know:
- 3 Automobile accidents and rib fractures:
- 4 Personal injury claim for rib fractures:
- 5 Damages claimed for broken ribs:
- 6 Final thoughts:
Motor vehicle accidents can be devastating, especially when vital organs get damaged due to hidden fractures. Are you involved in any violent auto accident? The excruciating pain you undergo in your chest cavity and the breathing difficulty can be an indicator of rib fractures. They are warnings to get immediate medical attention to avoid intense damages 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 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 reparations here.
Rib Fractures – Facts to Know:
Our rib cage is the chest cavity, which protects the internal organs like 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 with the chest muscles. When extreme pressure was exerted during heavy impacts to the rib cage, one or more ribs can be fractured. 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 in 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 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 rib injury, 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 and more in older patients. Nearly 10% of the ER patients worldwide have undergone blunt thoracic trauma. Such trauma to the chest region is the second most reason behind the head injury that leads 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 a major cause of rib fractures. In rear-end collisions, the tremendous force will thrust the 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 the enormous fore-ended impacts and T-bone accidents, lungs, liver, and spleen are often injured when the serrated ribs pierced them. Acceleration or deceleration, if the trauma is tremendous, rib fracture cannot be avoided.
Elderly people with arthritis or osteoporosis are more susceptible to rib fractures while encountering heavy impact to the thoracic region. When compared to the other type of incidents, sternum fractures are 3% higher.
1. Symptoms of Rib Fracture:
People with broken ribs will have concomitant symptoms such as
- Pain while breathing
- Pain when one laugh, sneeze or cough
- Pain in the fractured area
- Pain when force was applied to the breast bone
- Shortness of breath or hypoventilation
- Anxiety, fear, restlessness
- Dizziness, 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.
2. How are rib fractures diagnosed?
Physicians will gently press the chest area to check for the fractures. They analyze the broken rib symptoms, 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.
- X-rays can reveal the broken ribs and lung damages using low-level radiations. Sometimes mild cracks may not be clearly visible in x-rays.
- CT scans form the images from multiple images in different angles to detect the 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.
- As the MRIs use powerful magnetic fields, it will be easy to detect organ damages due to the broken ribs and their severity. Even hairline fractures will be unmasked in MRIs.
- 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.
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 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 injuries.
- 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, they can move out of their place while one breathes. This condition is called 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 to cure the fracture. 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: Most rib fractures heal within four to six weeks with proper rest and care. 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 weight 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.
- 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 the automobile accident is not as easy as other injuries. This part analyzes the factors involved in the rib fracture 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 onerous to get the desired compensation in the absence of sufficient records. The radiology reports, pain medication prescriptions, and treatment bills must be saved for litigation proceedings. They are the inevitable pieces of evidence in winning your claims.
- 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 claim. That is the reason why people with only rib fractures happen to get very little recovery.
- Extreme pain must be recorded: Though there is not much proof to provide for 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 in your claim.
- More extensive the injuries, more the value for your claim: Injury to the chest born or sternum is a more serious injury that needs extensive treatments. Grave injuries add to the recompense. Depending on the location of the fracture and the other serious injuries, the settlement amount may vary.
- Degree of disability: Some rib fractures may even disable a person permanently, preventing him from taking jobs that need lifting weights.
Damages claimed for broken ribs:
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 can proceed with your claim. Like all the other personal injury claims, you can claim for your general and special losses. The 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: 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 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.
Mighty impacts in auto accidents can cripple your ribs and generate chest pain. If you suspect a possible rib injury, avert body movements. Seeking immediate medical attention will not only aid you to avoid more damages but also strengthen your claim.
Be accurate in documenting your pain and symptoms to invigorate your litigation. Since most of the rib fracture cases do not need surgery or long hospitalization, medical records will be less in number. Only if those medical records, your symptoms, and other accident-related reports are accurate and consistent with your injuries, you can get the deserved claim. Obtain the help of a proficient lawyer to know about the possibilities of winning your litigation.