If you are suffering from chest pain after a car accident, you should get a medical evaluation right away. Chest pain can be indicative of a serious injury. The force of an auto collision can lead to a variety of injuries in the chest area, from rib fractures to internal organ damage. Below, the New York car accident attorneys of Finz & Finz, P.C. discuss potential causes of chest pain and what you can do if you suffer a chest injury in a car accident.
Potential Symptoms of a Chest Injury
It is normal to feel some pressure or pain in your chest after sustaining a chest injury in a car crash. You may feel chest pain and discomfort when you are at rest, or when your chest moves (such as when you are laughing or coughing). In addition to chest pain, some of the common signs that you have suffered a chest injury include:
- Trouble breathing
- Heart arrhythmia
- Sharp pains when you make certain movements, such as twisting your tors
- Decreased blood pressure
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in conjunction with chest pain, you should go see a doctor immediately. The longer you put off seeking medical care, the worse your injuries will get. If you allow your injuries to go untreated and complications arise, you could also face higher medical expenses, a longer hospital stay, and more time missed at work. Keep reading to learn about some of the common reasons why car accident victims experience chest pain after a collision.
Types of Chest Injuries that Can Cause Chest Pain
You could suffer chest injuries in an accident if your body collides with a hard surface like the steering wheel or dash board. Being restrained by a seat belt and being hit by an airbag can also cause chest injuries, though these crucial safety features also significantly increase your chances of survival.
The force of the impact may result in serious chest injuries such as:
- Fractured ribs – If you collide with your steering wheel or another surface with enough force, your ribs could fracture. Because your ribs protect many of the organs in your chest from being damaged, rib fractures should be swiftly treated.
- Punctured lungs – Fractured ribs can penetrate your lungs, allowing air to enter the chest cavity. A punctured lung can also eventually collapse.
- Ruptured organs – If the back of your chest is hit, you could suffer kidney damage. Likewise, your spleen could rupture if you are struck on the side or in the lower section of your chest.
- Tracheal damage – Another potential chest injury that could lead to difficulty breathing and other respiratory problems is tracheal damage. This is the organ that delivers air to and from your lungs when you breathe.
- Fractured sternum – When your sternum, or breastbone, fractures during a crash, the organs housed in your chest, such as the heart and esophagus, can be damaged.
Airbags deploy very rapidly during a collision. Although airbags can save your life and do not cause injuries as commonly as they once did, being hit by an airbag does still have the potential to cause chest injuries such as fractures, damage to the aorta, and even a heart attack.
What to Do if You Are Experiencing Chest Pain
You should always seek medical attention right away if you’ve been involved in a car accident. Chest pain may not appear for 24-48 hours after an accident, so you should never assume that you aren’t injured just because you’re not experiencing any symptoms directly after the car crash. We recommend seeing a doctor as soon as possible for the sake of your health, and also to protect your ability to seek compensation if you were seriously injured.
A physician will conduct imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRIs, to determine whether you suffered a chest injury that could be behind your chest pain. Because chest pain can be a symptom of a life-threatening injury, it is critical to get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible. Whether your chest pain is attributable to a minor or severe injury, you should pursue treatment before your injuries get worse.
As soon as you receive a diagnosis, your physician will come up with a treatment plan. It’s important to adhere to this treatment plan and follow your physician’s instructions throughout your recovery. There are many vital organs in your chest area, and you can protect them from further damage by taking your doctor’s orders seriously.
By getting diagnosed and beginning a treatment regimen, you can also demonstrate to the insurance company that you are taking your injuries seriously. Receiving medical care will also generate medical records that can be used to bolster your claim.
What Compensation Do I Qualify For?
New York follows a no-fault car insurance model, so most car accident victims will seek compensation through their personal injury protection (PIP) policy regardless of fault. State law requires all motorists in New York to carry at least $50,000 in PIP coverage. PIP compensates policyholders for medical expenses and lost income, up to their policy limits.
However, if your chest pain is caused by a serious chest injury, as defined by the state of New York, you could be entitled to step outside the no-fault auto insurance system and bring a claim directly against the motorist who caused the accident.
For example, one common injury that is considered “serious” by state law is a fracture. If your chest pain is the result of fractured ribs, then you could qualify for a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. Sometimes chest pain is the result of internal organ damage, which could also qualify as a “serious” injury.
Through a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent motorist who was responsible for the accident, you could obtain medical expenses, lost wages, and other additional compensation including physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of quality of life (i.e. if you suffered a debilitating injury), and loss of consortium.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer
Our New York car accident attorneys have extensive experience helping accident victims with chest injuries seek the compensation they deserve. If you suffered a chest injury in a car crash, contact Finz & Finz, P.C. today for a risk-free consultation to discuss your legal options.