Tracheobronchial Tear After an Accident

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The tracheobronchial tree is comprised of the bronchioles, bronchi, and trachea. It is described as a branching tree of airways that starts at the larynx and extends peripherally and inferiorly into the lungs in the form of bronchioles. The components of the tracheobronchial tree are responsible for the transportation of air from the environment to the lungs. This process is essential for gas exchange and survival. Among uncommon injuries are tracheobronchial tears that may occur from iatrogenic interventions or blunt or penetrating trauma to the chest or neck. They may be defined as a complete or partial puncture or laceration in any part of the tracheobronchial tree. This type of injury generally involves the trachea or both the left and right main stem bronchi. Favorable outcomes have been reported in cases involving a high index of suspicion, immediate diagnosis, and early management.

If you have suffered a tracheobronchial tear in an accident through no fault of your own, contact our law firm to discuss your case in detail with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are available anytime to provide free, friendly case advice.

At AutoAccident.com, we are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those we represent in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our legal team believes that anyone who has been injured in an accident through no fault of their own should be fairly compensated for the undue harm they have experienced. When you turn to us for assistance, we will provide your case with the dedication, knowledge, and commitment it requires for a successful resolution. Contact us today to discuss your tracheobronchial tear case in detail in a free consultation. Our attorneys are available anytime to speak with you, answer your questions, and inform you of what to expect from the legal process over the phone or in person.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Tracheobronchial Injury?

Most patients with a tracheobronchial tear may present with symptoms that are not specific to the site of trauma. Common symptoms may include hemoptysis, aphonia or loss of voice, subcutaneous emphysema, respiratory failure from a blockage of the airway, stridor, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms that may occur from an associated injury.

Studies have suggested that the most common signs that present in tracheobronchial injury cases include pneumothorax with 20-50 percent and subcutaneous emphysema with 35-85 percent. In a trauma setting, the suspicion of a tracheobronchial injury may be raised after an intercostal tube has been inserted and there is a non-resolving pneumothorax or persistent leakage of air.

How is a Tracheobronchial Tear Diagnosed?

In the diagnosis of a tracheobronchial injury with a high degree of suspicion, diagnostic imaging such as computed tomography (CT) and bronchoscopy can be helpful, especially with neck and chest injuries. Bronchoscopy is considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of this type of serious injury and helps in the identification of the specific size and location of the trauma. Morphologic classification helps establish the depth of the injury to the tracheal wall and is useful in the standardization of treatment.

How is a Tracheobronchial Tear Treated?

An essential component of treatment for a patient with a proven or suspected tracheobronchial tear in an emergency setting is safe airway securement. However, not all cases are suspected or detected before a physician makes the decision to intubate the patient. Rapid sequence intubation is not recommended for patients presenting with tracheobronchial injuries. While it is often prompted by respiratory distress or hemodynamic instability, it should be avoided because intubation in a disrupted or torn airway may cause additional damage to the air passage. This may cause a greater risk of creating a false track. Until the establishment of a safe airway, the promotion of spontaneous breathing is often recommended under these circumstances.

Management of tracheobronchial tears should be individualized based on the anatomy of the injury to the tracheobronchial tree, clinical presentation, and patient’s comorbidities. Reintubation under bronchoscopic guidance may be reserved in cases involving acute decompensation after extubation or acute respiratory failure. Bronchoscopy is useful in the prevention of a false passage formation. It is also helpful in preventing the worsening of the tear and its severity. Advanced life support with the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) may be necessary to form the bridge to recovery when a patient with an underlying injury fails a mechanical ventilator. Antibiotics may be utilized in patients with an infection in an area of the lung surrounding the trauma.

What are the Complications of a Tracheobronchial Injury?

The complications that may arise with trauma to the tracheobronchial tree vary as they are dependent on the severity and type of traumatic injury. Pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and subcutaneous emphysema are common complications and clinical signs. Sepsis and infections with multiple organ dysfunction may compound the risk of death. Conversely, a substantial reduction in the pulmonary reserve may occur from bronchiectasis or a collapse that has been long-standing after an injury to the airway.

Some of the few known complications that may occur with endoscopic management may include the formation of mucous from blockage, metal fatigue, tracheal obstruction by granulation tissue, stent migration, and infections. Approximately 50-70 percent of tracheobronchial tear cases may be overseen in an initial encounter and may present later with recurrent infections, stridor, and difficulty breathing. The rate of death in cases involving an initial miss of injury with subsequent need for surgical management is high.

What Types of Compensation are Recoverable in a Tracheobronchial Injury Case?

Compensation in a personal injury case is generally composed of economic and non-economic damages. These take into account the financial burden and intangible harm that has resulted from accident-related injuries. When you work with a personal injury lawyer in California, they will determine the types of damages applicable to your case. These may include but are not limited to:

At our personal injury law firm, we understand how complex and devastating a tracheobronchial tear case may be. Our legal team leaves no stone unturned when it comes to handling injury cases on behalf of our clients. We attribute our history of successful verdicts and settlements to our knowledge, skills, and resources. Learn more about our tracheobronchial tear lawyers and how we can help you with your case by watching this video.

Can You Seek Compensation for Wrongful Death in a Tracheobronchial Tear Case?

Given that there is a high risk of mortality associated with a tracheobronchial injury with blunt trauma, a wrongful death claim may be appropriate when an accident has caused this type of injury and resulted in the loss of a loved one. To bring a successful case forward, there must be substantial evidence demonstrating negligence on the part of the other side. Some of the losses that may be recovered in a wrongful death case may include the following:

  • Funeral costs and other celebration of life services
  • End-of-life treatment (recoverable through a survival action)
  • Lost companionship, protection, care, guidance, love, and support
  • Loss of future financial support and benefits such as health insurance and pension

A wrongful death lawsuit may arise from an iatrogenic intervention when a physician commits malpractice through a breach in the standard of care in treating a patient. Conversely, surviving family members may also have grounds for a wrongful death case when a loved one has succumbed to a tracheobronchial injury sustained in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. These cases are complex and should be left to an experienced tracheobronchial tear attorney to handle.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a Tracheobronchial Injury Case?

An accident case is subject to a filing deadline known as the statute of limitations. These cases may also involve notice requirements, particularly in cases against government entities and healthcare providers. Failure to meet the statute of limitations applicable to the case may result in its dismissal per the court’s discretion. That is why it is essential to work with a tracheobronchial injury attorney to ensure that all filing criteria and deadlines are met in your case. Some of the important deadlines to note include:

  • Personal Injury: Most personal injury cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations, as stated in the California Civil Code of Procedure Section 335.1. In other words, if a settlement agreement is not reached with the other side within this period, a lawsuit must be filed in civil court to protect the statute. The same time limit also applies to wrongful death matters.
  • Government Entity: The involvement of a public agency in a civil case has a significant influence on the duration of the statute of limitations. A notice of claim must be submitted no later than six months from the incident date when a civil case names a government entity as a defendant. This is by the California Government Code Section 911.2.
  • Medical Malpractice: The California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5 outlines the statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice cases. A lawsuit must be filed in civil court within three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date that the claimant had known or should have known about the injury, whichever of the two occurs first, should be followed. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 364, a 90-day notice must be provided to a healthcare provider before filing.

If you have suffered a tracheobronchial tear or lost someone you love to this type of injury from an accident, you should discuss your case immediately with an attorney. The sooner you retain legal counsel, the more time your injury lawyer will have to build a successful case on your behalf. You want to avoid running into any issues with the statute of limitations that applies to a civil case in California. Therefore, hiring an accident attorney to handle your tracheobronchial injury case is essential to ensuring that all aspects of your claim are addressed and handled accordingly.

Discuss Your Tracheobronchial Tear Case with an Accident Attorney Today

Attorney Edward A. Smith and his team of personal injury lawyers represent those who have suffered harm in accidents throughout the state of California. Call (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to learn how our legal team at AutoAccident.com can help you if you have suffered a tracheobronchial tear or lost someone you love to this type of traumatic injury. Our lawyers care about you and would be honored to put our experience, skills, and resources to obtain the best outcome possible in your case. Do not hesitate to reach out to us today for free, friendly case advice. Our legal team speaks Spanish and many other languages. We also work on a contingent fee basis, meaning you owe us nothing unless we secure a successful resolution on your behalf.

Photo Source: By “Anna Shvets” via Pexels

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