My Ribs Were Fractured in a Car Accident. Now What?

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Bad Car Accident

Broken ribs are one the most common types of personal injury caused by car accidents. A motorist can suffer a broken rib when the force of the impact causes the chest area to hit the steering wheel, or from the extreme force of the seat belt against the chest if the accident was a high-speed collision. Passengers can suffer broken ribs if they hit the dashboard with extreme force. Although these injuries are not generally life threatening, they can be extremely painful. Even inhaling a deep breath can be excruciating. Unfortunately, the treatment options are limited, which means that the medical expenses associated with a broken rib are relatively low. This can make it difficult to recover financial compensation beyond the minimal medical expenses. A skilled car accident lawyer can review your case, assist you with the claims process, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

How Do Car Accidents Cause Broken Ribs?

When two vehicles collide, the force of the impact can be extreme, particularly if one or both of the vehicles were traveling at a high speed at the moment of impact. There are a number of scenarios that can cause the occupants of the vehicle to suffer a broken rib, including the following:

  • Direct trauma to the chest: This occurs when the other vehicle strikes your body directly in the chest area. This usually occurs when a vehicle hits a pedestrian or a bicyclist. However, this can also occur when the driver’s chest hits the steering wheel with extreme force.
  • Seat belt: A vehicle’s seat belt is meant to hold you in place and protect you from striking the steering wheel, dashboard, or other hard surfaces in the interior of the car, or from being ejected from the vehicle. Although seat belts are effective at saving lives and preventing life-threatening injuries, if the impact of the collision causes your body to hurtle forward, the sudden force of the seat belt holding you in place can cause a cracked rib.
  • Airbag: Like seat belts, airbags are an effective safety feature that helps prevent severe injuries and fatalities caused by car accidents. However, when the impact of a car accident causes the airbags to deploy, the force of the airbag can cause broken ribs.
  • Back seat passenger: If the back seat passenger is not wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident, they can strike the back of the front seat, the side door, or another object inside the car with such force that they suffer a broken rib. Unfortunately, back seat passengers do not wear their seat belts as often as they should, even though they are at risk of suffering serious, even fatal injuries if they are involved in a serious accident.
  • Ejection from the vehicle: If the force of the collision causes you to be ejected from the vehicle, you could sustain multiple broken ribs as well as a range of other serious, potentially life-threatening injuries.

What are the Common Symptoms of a Broken Rib?

If you have suffered a broken or cracked rib, the main symptom is intense pain. The pain is particularly intense if you take a deep breath in, sneeze, or try to cough or even move. It is also painful when you apply pressure to the affected area. To determine whether you have a fracture as opposed to a severely bruised rib, you will need to be examined by a medical professional. In most cases, broken rib injuries will eventually heal on their own with plenty of rest and limited activity.

How are Broken Ribs Treated?

In most cases, an uncomplicated rib injury will heal on its own with the appropriate pain relief and rest, and a period of restricted activity. This can take up to six weeks. However, if the broken rib injury is more severe, you may require more intensive pain management and hospitalization. In the past, broken ribs were treated using belts and bandages to help set the bones and hold them in place, but medical experts stopped using this treatment method when they realized that it restricted breathing and increased the risk for pneumonia. Today, doctors may use oral pain killers or injections that provide a longer period of pain relief.

In extreme cases, a broken rib can cause serious health complications. For example, if the cracked rib punctured the lung, it could lead to a collapsed lung, which is a serious medical condition that makes it very difficult to breathe. If the force of the accident was strong enough to break your ribs, it could also cause bruising or damage to your heart.  If more than one rib is broken or the jagged fragments of bone puncture the heart or other vital organs, this is a serious medical emergency that will likely require surgery to repair.

How Do I Recover Compensation for my Injuries in Maryland?

If you were in a car accident and you suffered a broken rib injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To reach a successful settlement outcome, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent. That means proving the following:

  • You were owed a duty of care. All motorists have a duty to follow the rules of the road and avoid unsafe driving behavior such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving. That means that the driver who hit you owed you a duty of care.
  • There was a breach in the duty of care. You must be able to prove that the other driver’s actions violated the duty of care. To prove that there was a breach in the duty of care, you must be able to show that the other driver’s actions were in violation of that duty, and that a reasonable person would not have engaged in the unsafe driving behavior that the negligent driver did. Common examples of breaches of care include drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, tailgating, and road rage.
  • The breach of care resulted in your injury. You must also be able to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries and other losses such as property damage. Oftentimes, the other driver’s legal team will try to prove that your injuries were the result of an existing injury, and that his or her client should not be held liable. If you did have a previous injury, but the accident caused it to become much worse, you will have to prove that the accident was the primary cause of the injury getting worse. To prove that the accident caused your injuries, copies of medical records and the police report can help prove that the injury was caused by the accident.
  • The injury resulted in financial damages. Finally, in order to recover financial compensation, you must provide proof that your losses, including injuries, property damage and lost wages, are directly related to the accident.

It is also very important to understand that Maryland follows the contributory negligence doctrine, which prevents you from recovering financial damages from the other driver if you were partially at fault. That means if the other driver can prove that you were even one percent at fault, you will be unable to collect financial compensation, even if the other driver was 99 percent at fault. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can assist you with the claims process

If you can prove negligence, you may be eligible for the following damages:

  • All current and future medical expenses related to the injury
  • Lost wages if you are unable to return to work for an extended period
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship

What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland?

If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, it is imperative that you do so as soon as possible. In Maryland, there is a three-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. That means your claim must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. If you fail to meet this deadline, your claim will most likely be denied and you will be unable to recover any financial compensation.

Our Attorneys at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Victims of Broken Rib Injuries

If you were involved in a car accident and you suffered a broken rib, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We understand how painful these injuries are, and how crucial it is that you receive the financial compensation you deserve, particularly if the injury is severe and requires surgery. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you recover the damages to which you are entitled, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.