You have an 80% chance of suffering a head or chest injury in a California car accident. The Department of Transportation reports that 8 in 10 car crashes involve head and thoracic damage, including bruised sternums and chest injuries.
Some of these injuries are more obvious than others. A broken rib often has focused and intense pain, while the symptoms of a bruised sternum can be more subtle and hard to detect.
Would you know if you had a chest injury? Would you know how to seek compensation for it? Below, we’ll share the most common symptoms, the typical recovery time, and helpful information about seeking the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and other damages.
How to Know if You Have a Bruised Sternum
During a car accident, a bruise on the sternum usually arises from a sudden impact. The two main sources of sternum impacts in car crashes are moving objects, like a metal car door crushing inward, and vehicle airbags that deploy upon impact. Airbags protect you from worse outcomes, but they sometimes cause devastating damage.
Nothing can replace a doctor’s diagnosis, so seek a doctor’s care immediately and explain any symptoms you’ve been experiencing since the crash.
Common symptoms of a bruised sternum include:
- Chest pain that increases and decreases throughout the day
- Discomfort or extreme pain while coughing, breathing, or moving
- Feeling a sensation of hot skin on the chest
- Inability to twist the torso without pain
- Intense or radiating pain centered on the breastbone
- Running a fever
- Skin discoloration or tenderness
- Unexplained low blood pressure or blood loss
How long does a bruised sternum last? The typical bruised sternum heal time is a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks. More severe cases take 4 to 6 weeks or more. During your recovery period, your doctor may recommend a range of treatments depending on the type and severity.
How Do You Know if a Chest Injury is Serious?
Take any chest injury symptoms seriously, especially if they interfere with breathing or circulation. If you have chest tenderness, are experiencing pain while twisting or moving, are fainting, or feel cracking, creaking, or popping in the chest, you may have a chest injury. Go to the emergency room if you have urgent symptoms like trouble breathing, sudden/severe loss of blood pressure, or loss of consciousness.
Chest injury symptoms include:
- Focused or dispersed chest pain
- Discomfort or pain while twisting, bending, coughing, or moving
- Noises like popping or cracking in the chest
- Stiffness or soreness in nearby areas, like the neck or spine
- Trouble breathing
- Blood pressure changes
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of consciousness
Other Types of Chest Injuries
You may have broken ribs, which can be surprisingly difficult to detect without proper diagnostic investigation and imaging studies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that up to 25% of rib fractures don’t show up on initial X-rays and require thorough physical examinations from trained doctors.
Some car accident survivors believe they only have minimal sternal bruising until a doctor diagnoses them with a much more severe thoracic condition known as flail chest. Flail chest occurs when ribs are broken in several places, interfering with steady respiration and causing trouble breathing.
Pain when laughing or coughing can indicate a chest wall injury. You could have a chest injury like a chest wall burn, which is a surface-level abrasion, usually red or burned-looking, that indicates a much deeper underlying chest contusion that would be invisible to the naked eye. It’s a serious condition that requires a diagnosis from a specialist like a trauma surgeon or thoracic surgeon.
Treatment for chest injuries may include:
- Activity restriction
- Topical treatments
- Follow-up ultrasounds and X-rays
- Supplemental oxygen
- Blood transfusion
The most severe chest injuries require advanced treatment and may take many months to heal, particularly if additional diagnostic tests show your health situation is more serious than it seemed at first. Some types of underlying damage can take time to develop enough to be detectable.
Certain chest injury patients need supplemental oxygen or blood transfusions. You may also need additional chest wall ultrasounds, targeted physical therapy, or even follow-up surgery to address the full scope of your chest injuries.
How to Seek Compensation for Chest Injuries
Chest injuries can be quite severe, impacting your breathing, mobility, and ability to live a full and active lifestyle. Paradoxically, the people around you can’t necessarily see your chest injury, so they might not realize how much you’re suffering.
There’s no need to suffer in silence. If someone hurt you in a car accident and created chaos in your life, you have legal options to pursue compensation. California law supports the rights of injured people to seek payment from those who hurt them in car accidents. Liable individuals and insurance companies are often reluctant to offer compensation until you hire an experienced lawyer to make a strong case they can’t deny.
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’re a team of car accident lawyers with decades of combined experience helping our clients secure high-value awards in chest injury cases. We can help you gather evidence of your injuries and expand the value of your case to include the significant worth of your mental anguish, ongoing therapy costs, lost wages, property damage, and more.
Call 877-380-8852 today and request a free case evaluation. We’re here to support your recovery and minimize your stress as you heal from your chest injuries.