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Ruptured Spleen Lawyer

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A medical emergency that may occur because of a break in the surface of the spleen is considered a ruptured spleen. This organ is part of the lymphatic system. It is responsible for filtering old blood cells from the bloodstream and helping the body fight infection. Some of the common causes of splenic ruptures are an enlarged spleen due to underlying issues such as blood cancers, liver disease, mononucleosis, and other types of infections. Conversely, a spleen may also rupture because of blunt force trauma to the left lower chest or the left upper abdomen through a traffic collision or a sports-related accident. In either of these situations, emergency medical treatment is necessary to address potential complications such as bleeding into the abdominal cavity.

A ruptured spleen after a car accident may be life-threatening if left untreated. If you have suffered a splenic injury in a crash caused by another party or entity, contact our personal injury lawyers in Sacramento at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 today for free friendly case advice.

Our law firm has represented those hurt in motor vehicle collisions in California since 1982. We have the experience, skills, and resources to build the strongest case possible for fair compensation on your behalf. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not owe us anything unless we obtain a favorable case outcome on your behalf. Our lawyers are available anytime to go over the facts and circumstances of your spleen injury case and determine your best course of action moving forward.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Splenic Rupture?

In most cases, an injured spleen may cause pain to the abdomen that is often severe. Other symptoms of a ruptured spleen may include:

  • Internal bleeding from a splenic injury may result in hypotension and cause signs of shock, fainting, light-headedness, confusion, and blurred vision
  • Isolated pain in the left shoulder, particularly in the absence of a visible injury to the shoulder or left clavicle
  • Pain under the rib cage along the left side of the abdomen
  • Tenderness in the upper left abdomen

In the early evaluation of a patient, caution should be utilized since symptoms may not present themselves immediately in the course of this type of medical condition. The process should include evaluating and identifying left lower rib fractures. Studies have suggested that up to 20% of adults presenting with left lower ribs bone fractures may have subsequent splenic trauma.

How are Ruptured Spleens Diagnosed?

A physician may ask for a patient’s medical history and perform a physical exam during an evaluation. The doctor will inspect the patient for signs of external trauma like contusions, lacerations, abrasions, and seatbelt syndrome along the abdomen. However, not all patients may display external visual findings during an initial encounter with a medical professional. Examination on arrival may not reveal abdominal distension, rigidity, or severe tenderness despite splenic trauma. Physical exams may also be limited for patients presenting with distracting injuries or altered mental statuses.

Since splenic trauma is not always clinically apparent, medical imaging may be useful in the diagnosis of this type of injury. Ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) may be used in these cases. Since ultrasound is limited in early evaluation when there is minimal blood loss or detecting pseudoaneurysm, CT has become the standard protocol of stable patient evaluation. This is because CT may assess other abdominal organs and the severity of spleen injuries.

The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Organ Injury Scale provides classifications for an injured spleen based on findings through CT scans. Such injuries are categorized but do not include predictions for the need for surgery:

  • Grade I: Capsule laceration that is less than 1 centimeter or the hematoma involves less than 10% of surface area
  • Grade II: Capsule laceration is approximately 1-3 centimeters in-depth and does not involve a trabecular blood vessel, or the hematoma involves 10-50% of surface area
  • Grade III: Involves a trabecular blood vessel, a capsular tear is more than 3 centimeters in-depth or more than 50% of the subcapsular surface area involves hematoma
  • Grade IV: Devascularization involving more than a quarter of the spleen from a laceration to the hilar or segmental vessels
  • Grade V: The spleen has been completely shattered or has been revascularized through a vascular injury

These categories often provide physicians with the decisions for treatment, like if operative or observational management is selected for splenic trauma by the surgeon.

How are Splenic Injuries Treated?

Management tends to favor conservative and nonoperative treatment in stable patients. Conservative approaches may include blood or fluid replacement as necessary with patient monitoring.

Surgical intervention may be considered for hemodynamically unstable patients, those currently on antiplatelet therapy or anticoagulants, or those presenting with significant trauma to other systems. Candidates for surgery may undergo exploratory laparotomy for removal, repair, or assessment.

Can You Injure Your Spleen in an Auto Accident?

A side-impact car accident has been related to higher morbidity and mortality compared to other types of motor vehicle collisions. Some of the factors that may play a role in this include restraint use and lateral stiffness.

Studies have found that decreased rates of splenic injury were associated with restraint use in side-impact crashes. Contact with the steering wheel has also been found to have an influence on abdominal trauma.

Bringing a Personal Injury Claim for an Accident

California law allows injured parties to bring claims against at-fault parties for losses incurred. Compensation may be sought through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit and comes in two types, economic and non-economic damages. Some of these include:

  • Medical Expenses: All past and future medical treatment expenses for a splenic injury suffered in an accident may be recovered. If a medical device or accommodations to the home are necessary, these out-of-pocket expenses may also be considered.
  • Lost Wages: Any injury can potentially impact a person’s ability to earn a living both now and into the future. In the short term, it may be challenging for an injured party to get their life back on track when dealing with mounting medical bills and time off work to recover from an accident. Damages for lost wages may be recoverable under such circumstances. Conversely, loss of future earning capacity may also be considered in cases of permanent injury or disability. An economist may be retained for the case to establish such losses.
  • Pain and Suffering: With traumatic injuries come physical pain and emotional suffering. Pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case are designed to compensate the claimant in a way that makes them whole again. Since damages for pain and suffering are subjective, they may differ in value from case to case.
  • Loss of Consortium: This refers to the damage a traumatic injury has caused to a marital relationship in the context of affection, assistance, and companionship. Damages for loss of consortium may also account for the inability to conceive children because of an accident-related injury. Like pain and suffering, there is no exact way of calculating such losses.

Each personal injury claim is different because of the unique factors that are involved in each case. These factors may be evaluated by insurance companies when making an initial settlement offer. It is essential that such offers may be low in value as they may not account for the true extent of damages incurred. For more details on the claims process, watch this video.

What if the Other Party Does Not Have Insurance?

If the other driver does not carry liability coverage or is not enough to cover resulting damages, there may be recourse in such situations. If the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance or has state minimum policy limits, your uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM and UIM) protection may come into play. Keep in mind that UM and UIM coverage will pay for your losses up to the limits of your policy.

While the claim will be handled by your insurer, that does not necessarily mean that you will be fairly compensated for your losses. Keep in mind that auto insurance companies are in the business of protecting their profit margins and will do so by downplaying the value of bodily injury claims or denying them. These situations can be stressful and should be best left to an experienced injury lawyer to handle.

Is There a Filing Deadline on a Personal Injury Case?

As with any claim for damages, a specific time limit must be met when bringing a splenic rupture case for an accident. A lawsuit must be filed no later than two years from the crash date for personal injury cases, as outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1.

A shorter statute of limitations may apply in cases involving government entities. Under the California Government Code Section 911.2, a claimant has six months to bring a notice of claim with the government agency. Since other filing criteria and deadlines may apply, discussing your ruptured spleen case with an experienced attorney is best.

Contact a Ruptured Spleen Attorney Today

A spleen rupture may often require extensive medical treatment resulting in expensive medical bills and time away from work. Such a situation may put you and your family’s financial security at risk. At our law firm, we represent people who have suffered abdominal trauma, including splenic injuries, in all types of accident cases.

Call one of our lawyers today for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. A member of our legal team is available anytime to speak with you and discuss your best options to recover the financial compensation you need to move forward with your life.

Image Credit: By "derneuemann" via Pixabay

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