Chest trauma is one of the leading causes of death in this country. The most common cause of chest trauma is car accidents. In fact, between 70 and 80 percent of all chest trauma injuries happen in motor vehicle accidents, with the victim either in the vehicle or a pedestrian. More than 30 percent of these injuries prove to be fatal.
Injury to the ribs – including fractures – often occurs when there has been a trauma to the chest. These rib injuries in turn frequently cause injuries to the lungs. These injuries can make breathing very difficult for the victim. Lung injuries include:
If a rib is broken or fractured in a car accident, it can puncture the lung. Another way car accident victims can suffer a punctured lung is if any sharp objects in the vehicle are thrown and slam into the victim’s chest. Signs of a punctured lung include shortness of breath, pain, and pressure in the area.
Every time a person takes a breath, the muscles of the diaphragm and chest contract and their lungs inflate, similar to a balloon. When a person exhales, the lungs deflate as those muscles relax. A collapsed lung is often caused when there has been a puncture of the lung. Symptoms of a collapsed lung include difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, and sharp pains in the chest area which spread with each inhalation.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
An injury to the lung can cause it to become inflamed, allowing fluid to leak into the air sacs of the lung. When this occurs, the lungs are filling with fluid and cannot fill with air, causing the respiratory system can shut down. ARDS can happen within a few days after a lung injury.
Even a minor lung injury can leave a victim dealing with fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, cognizant issues, and depression, for some time. A more serious injury can leave permanent damage to the lungs. Rib fractures leave elderly victims particularly susceptible, with one study showing five times greater risk of dying from the injury, and four times greater risk of developing pneumonia.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what kind of personal injury compensation you may be entitled to for your pain and loss.