The injuries resulting from car accidents can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual involved and how exactly they were injured from the force of the impact. For instance, front-seat passengers are more susceptible to certain chest injuries that can result from hitting the dashboard, the steering wheel, an airbag, or even from the tightness of a seatbelt.
Chest contusions, for example, are common injuries that can happen to front-seat drivers or passengers. And while a contusion can be mild, the injuries can also be dangerous because the full extent of the injury from a chest contusion is not always immediately apparent. Signs and symptoms can be delayed, but if a victim with a chest contusion waits too long to seek treatment, it could make matters worse and result in a life-threatening situation.
So it’s important to understand what chest contusions are and how to recognize them to ensure you get the immediate medical attention you may need. Furthermore, seeking immediate medical care and having proof of your injury will be necessary when you file a personal injury claim. You could even file a lawsuit against the guilty party, but you will need sufficient evidence to prove that you require additional compensation beyond what initial insurance coverage provides.
In either situation, whether you file a claim or further pursue a lawsuit, you will need to work with an experienced attorney if you are the victim of a chest contusion car accident. Battling insurers to get the money you need and deserve after an accident can be a challenge, and filing a lawsuit is even more complicated. However, with the help of a personal injury attorney, Indiana car accident victims are more likely to get the settlement they deserve.
What Is a Chest Contusion?
Contusions are a type of hematoma or bruising that affects the soft tissue in various parts of the body. Soft tissue injuries as a whole are very common after car accidents. A chest contusion is a soft tissue injury that specifically results in damage to parts of the chest or thorax.
When a chest contusion occurs, it typically results in bruising that damages the blood vessels and other tissues beneath the skin. However, because the chest contains various organs and bones, a chest contusion can also cause other injuries to parts of the thorax, such as the heart, lungs, ribs, collar bones, diaphragm, and the sternum.
This is why chest contusions should not be taken lightly. If you experience bruising in the chest area, it could be a sign of a more serious injury that could be life-threatening if left untreated.
What are the Symptoms of a Chest Contusion?
Chest contusion symptoms to look out for include:
- Tenderness, pain, and swelling in the affected area
- Bruising or discoloration in the skin around the chest
- Chest or lung pain when you breathe or move the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Shallow or fast breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Cool or clammy skin
- Low blood pressure
What Causes Chest Contusions in an Accident?
There are a couple of common causes of chest contusions from an accident. These include:
- Pressure from a seatbelt. Generally, seatbelts are meant to keep drivers and passengers safe. However, because of their design, they can tighten against the chest during an accident, which can prevent some more fatal injuries, but they can also cause injury as well. When a seatbelt rapidly and forcefully tightens against the chest, it can cause a contusion.
- Airbag deployment. Similar to seatbelts, airbags help prevent more serious injuries. However, they often deploy with such force that they can cause damage to the chest, neck, and even face—especially in smaller individuals.
- Impact with steering wheels and dashboards. When the force of impact propels you forward in an accident, it can cause your body to slam against the steering wheel or the dashboard. This forceful impact is what can damage the chest and cause a contusion to form.
Chest Contusion Injuries That Can Result from a Car Accident
Aside from the pain, bruising, and swelling that can occur when a victim suffers from a chest contusion, there are other more serious injuries that can happen when the chest is damaged from impact. These injuries can be quite severe and even life-threatening, so it’s crucial for victims to seek immediate medical attention after being involved in an accident, especially if you notice bruising and pain in the chest area.
Chest contusion-related injuries can include:
- Pulmonary contusion: This occurs when the lungs are bruised from a forceful impact on the chest. So, in addition to the chest being bruised, the lungs can also bruise, which can cause blood and fluid to build up. This can cause lung infections, respiratory illness, and breathing difficulty.
- Myocardial contusion: Beyond the chest and the lungs, if the impact from an accident is forceful enough, it can also cause a myocardial contusion, which is a bruising of the heart muscle. While some heart contusions can be mild, other cases may be more severe and require intensive treatments such as heart surgery to prevent further damage and bleeding.
- Pneumothorax: In some cases, the pressure from a chest contusion can cause the lung to collapse—also known as a pneumothorax. This can cause severe pain and, of course, make it difficult to breathe. If left untreated, a pneumothorax can result in complete respiratory failure or a heart attack, both of which can lead to death.
- Hemothorax: This can happen as a result of a chest contusion when blood collects between the chest wall and the lungs. When there is too much blood, the pressure can then cause the lungs to collapse.
- Broken ribs: If the chest is hit hard enough in an accident, it can also cause the ribs to fracture and break. Some broken ribs can heal on their own with rest, but in other cases, a broken rib can protrude and puncture chest organs, such as the lungs.
- Chest organ damage: Overall, any impact to the chest that causes a contusion can also damage internal chest organs in various ways, including the heart, lungs, trachea, diaphragm, and esophagus. In some situations, the organs in the abdominal area can also become affected.
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Chest Contusion Caused by a Car Accident in Indiana?
Indiana is an at-fault state, which means the injured party can file a claim or a lawsuit against the guilty party. Before you can file a lawsuit, however, you will likely have to file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver’s insurance.
All drivers in Indiana are required to carry liability coverage in case of an accident. This insurance coverage will help pay for the injured driver’s damages, such as medical expenses, loss of income, and pain & suffering. The minimum coverage is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
If, however, the coverage is not enough and you feel that you deserve additional compensation, you can file a lawsuit against the guilty driver or other negligent parties involved in the accident. However, keep in mind that filing a lawsuit does open you up to being sued in return by the other party. Indiana is a comparative at-fault state, which means it is possible for more than one person to share in liability. If you are partially responsible, the other party could also come after you during a lawsuit.
This is why it is crucial to work with an attorney. Personal injury claims are challenging enough as is, but filing a lawsuit can be even more challenging. You will need professional representation to protect your rights and ensure you are fully compensated for the damages you have suffered.
Consult With an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
Chest contusions from a car accident can be severe, and the medical treatments required can get expensive. Often, liability insurance is not enough to cover all expenses and anything else the victim is suffering from. This is why it is necessary in some cases to file a lawsuit and work with an attorney.
At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, our Indianapolis personal injury attorneys understand how challenging it can be to file a claim or a lawsuit while dealing with a chest contusion or other related injuries. We are dedicated to helping our clients navigate their cases while they recover and advocating for their rights to ensure they get the compensation they deserve.
Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.