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Traumatic Accidents and Chest Injuries

chest trauma

Following head and spine injuries, chest injuries are the third most common cause of traumatic deaths in the United States. Chest trauma is a physical injury caused by an impact or blow to the upper torso. It can include injuries to the lungs, ribs, and heart. If you or a family member has suffered severe chest injuries in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Call us at (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. Our experienced injury lawyers can help determine if you have a personal injury claim.

Traumatic Injuries to the Chest

Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death of Americans ages 1 to 45. Automobile accidents account for a large percentage of those fatalities. Automobile accidents are also the most common cause of blunt trauma to the chest. A driver's torso may strike the steering wheel at impact. This is a risk, especially if the vehicle is not equipped with airbags or fails to deploy at impact. 

Depending on the violence of the blow to the chest, blunt force trauma to the area may cause interruptions to blood and/or airflow. If there is an esophageal perforation, sepsis can occur if food contents leak into the bloodstream.

Rib fractures are a common and excruciating injury often caused by car accidents. A displaced rib fracture can puncture a lung, causing a life-threatening health emergency. Even if a lung is not punctured, the pain of deep breathing with broken ribs results in shallow breathing that may lead to a serious pleural effusion. Even without broken bones, the presence of pulmonary contusions on imaging films usually means the patient's lung capacity is diminished.

A blow to the chest can also directly damage the heart or major aortic vessels, which could cause hemorrhaging and result in a decrease in cardiac output. If the damage is severe, it can lead to a swift death.

Chest Trauma Symptoms

Symptoms of traumatic chest injuries following an automobile accident may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) from blood loss
  • Failure of the lungs to expand properly
  • Crunching sounds when palpating the rib cage
  • Bruising of the chest wall
  • Coughing up blood
  • Flail chest, which is when a section of the chest wall sucks in when the patient is inhaling
Chest Trauma Causes

Up to seventy percent of blunt force traumatic injuries to the chest are caused by automobile accidents. Other scenarios that may cause this type of injury include:

  • Motorcycle accidents
  • ATV accidents
  • Falls from a great height
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Knife wounds
  • Combat blast injuries

Because chest trauma is a common result of major car accidents, first responders need to assess the patient’s airway and manage the emergency medical response to traumatic chest injuries. A severe chest injury can cause a patient's status to degrade quickly and with tragic consequences.

Chest Trauma Diagnosis Methods

In some cases, a plain x-ray may be used to diagnose chest trauma. A plain film can show bony abnormalities such as rib fractures, sternal fractures, and clavicular fractures. An x-ray can also reveal if a lung has collapsed or partially collapsed or if any foreign bodies have invaded the chest cavity.

Chest injuries that do not involve the bones but rather the soft tissues may be better diagnosed via a more advanced imaging study, such as an MRI

Treatment for Traumatic Chest Injuries

The treatment options for traumatic injuries to the chest area are as varied as the types of injuries. Although very painful, there is not much that can be done to treat broken ribs other than allowing them time to heal. Collapsed lungs are treated by establishing an airway via a chest tube. Other types of chest injuries may require emergency surgery.  

Sacramento Personal Injury  Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one has suffered chest trauma as a result of an accident caused by someone else's negligence and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney, please do not hesitate to give our legal team a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We offer no-obligation consultations or may simply provide free and friendly advice.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo.

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"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
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"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
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"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
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