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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

Broken Ribs from Car Accident | Who to Call for Help

Updated: Jan 17

More than 6 million car accidents happen on U.S. roads every year, according to statistics. These accidents commonly result in cracked or broken ribs due to blunt trauma to the chest during a crash. When the motorist hits the steering wheel, a passenger crashes into the dash, or the seatbelt placed securely around the torso causes fractured or broken ribs during a high-impact crash, the results can be catastrophic.

Those who have suffered rib injuries during a car accident that wasn't their fault may be entitled to compensation and are advised to contact an experienced attorney from Keating Law Firm to pursue legal action.

Anatomy of the Chest

Anatomy of the Chest

A variety of significant anatomical organs and tissues are housed in the chest, sometimes referred to as the chest cavity or thorax. Ribs are bones that safeguard essential organs, such as the heart and lungs, by forming a protective framework around them.

Between these bones are muscles known as the intercostal muscles that assist with moving the chest during breathing. These structures are collectively known as the chest wall, and damage to the chest wall can cause difficulty breathing and affect other surrounding organs and structures.

Understanding Broken Ribs or Rib Fractures

A broken rib is an injury that occurs when trauma to the chest causes one or more bones in the rib cage to crack or break. A rib fracture or a broken rib can be a life-threatening injury depending on where the break or fracture occurs.

Because internal organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and stomach are located near or within the rib cage, dislodged bone fragments could potentially pierce one of these organs, causing serious damage to them.

Broken bones can also rupture blood vessels, causing potentially life-threatening internal bleeding. When rib injuries occur near the vertebrae, it can result in spinal cord damage, which can have long-term effects.

Why Car Accidents Typically Result in a Broken or Fractured Rib

A vehicle crashing into a stationary object or another vehicle can cause blunt force trauma to the chest. This is because drivers and occupants can collide with the steering wheel, dash, or other objects. The chest can also experience trauma from seatbelts that restrain them during impact. Because rib bones are so fragile, the results of chest trauma often result in broken ribs and other rib injuries.

Those who have suffered a rib injury in a motor vehicle accident that was not their fault should contact Keating Law Firm to discuss a legal course of action.

Common Rib Injuries

In addition to broken ribs, the most common rib injuries that can occur in a car accident are:

  • Fractured ribs

  • Bruised ribs

  • Soft tissue injuries

  • Internal organ damage

  • Spinal cord injuries

A Rib Fracture or Broken Ribs

A rib fracture or broken rib can develop when a strong gravitational force is exerted on the ribs. Damage to these bones can be excruciatingly painful, with symptoms such as chest pain that worsens with laughter, sneezing, breathing, or coughing. Redness and swelling are often commonly observed in the affected areas.

Bruised Ribs

When there is trauma to the chest, blood vessels might burst, and nearby tissues can be injured, resulting in a bruised rib. Car crashes are, in fact, the most significant cause of bruised ribs. Chest pain accompanies bruised ribs, and taking deep breaths can be challenging.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Muscles and tissue around the ribs allow the ribcage to extend and compress during breathing and movement. Any impact on the ribs might harm the soft tissues surrounding the ribcage's bones. Soft tissue injuries in the chest can make it difficult to move, and it can become harder to breathe normally without the help of these structures.

When Three or More Ribs are Broken

A flail chest injury is a term used to describe a severe case of broken ribs, and it happens when the chest is struck with a blunt object. When three or more ribs have numerous fractures, a section of the chest wall may become detached. This condition is considered a medical emergency since there could be a serious lung injury involved, and victims must receive immediate treatment.

It's uncommon for this rib injury to occur as a result of chest trauma from a car accident. However, if it does occur, a flail chest can greatly restrict a person's ability to breathe and cause serious health problems.

Life-threatening Consequences of Broken Ribs

As mentioned before, broken ribs can cause serious damage to surrounding structures. Below are some examples of complications caused by a rib fracture or break.


Often referred to as a collapsed lung, pneumothorax can have devastating consequences. The condition occurs when one or more ribs are broken and pierces a lung. When this happens, there is often damage to tissues in the ribcage, and a pressure change occurs in the damaged lung, causing it to collapse. Pneumothorax symptoms include difficulty inhaling, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood.

Rupturing of the Spleen

The spleen is an internal organ that cleanses and eliminates harmful cells from the body. It is located on the left side of the abdominal cavity. Certain immune cells, such as antibodies and lymphocytes, are also made in the spleen. When the outermost part of the spleen ruptures, it can result in internal bleeding.

Cardiac Injuries

Because the ribs work to protect the lungs and the heart, broken bones can pierce these organs. When bone fragments damage the heart or major blood vessels such as the aorta, it can result in death due to internal bleeding and a lack of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body.

Symptoms of a Broken Rib

It can be hard to tell whether a person has a fractured rib, a bruised rib, or a broken rib without receiving a medical evaluation or diagnosis. Rib fractures and contusions can cause chest pain, trouble breathing, noticeable bruising, and severe sneezing or coughing.

However, when ribs are broken during a collision, the pain is usually considerably more intense and can be exacerbated when the upper body is bent or twister.

Broken ribs can be life-threatening in particular instances, so car accident victims who encounter any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will provide a clear diagnosis so that the sufferer can receive the correct treatment and prevent any further harm.

Treating Broken Ribs

While many rib fractures tend to heal on their own, requiring little medical intervention, they can cause severe pain and have long-term implications, especially if left unchecked.

Collapsed lungs, a critical medical disorder that causes breathing difficulty, can result from fractured ribs. Broken ribs, however, frequently require surgery, especially if more than one rib has been broken or other vital organs were affected because this can lead to severe internal injury.

Less serious injuries, such as bruising, will most likely be addressed with over-the-counter pain relievers, cold therapy, and rest. Physical therapy may also be recommended for those who have shown signs of recovery.

Seeking Compensation for a Broken Rib

Seeking Compensation for a Broken Rib

When someone suffers as a result of someone else's negligence, they are often entitled to compensation for their losses.

This includes the cost of their medical care (both past and future), lost wages as a result of being unable to work, and property damage. Victims may also be allowed to seek special damages, such as pain and suffering, in certain circumstances.

Those who suffer rib injuries due to an auto accident should get legal advice from a reliable car accident lawyer at Keating Law Firm to evaluate a fair settlement amount and determine the types of damages that may be claimed.

Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

Car accidents often bring much pain and suffering, but they can also bring considerable financial strain. Those who have suffered injuries due to someone else's negligence can hold that person liable for driving negligently.

A personal injury attorney can help victims gather the evidence they need to prove negligence and deal with any unreasonable insurance company that tries to offer an unfair settlement. Most lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss the specifics of the case and can guide victims through the process. On the other hand, they also help with getting the average settlement for non injury car accident.

Need a Personal Injury Lawyer? Contact Keating Law Firm Today!

Rib injuries can cause severe pain. They can even have long-term consequences and may even lead to permanent disability. This means that such victims can expect medical bills to be ongoing. Disabilities and injuries, including bad headaches after a car accident, can also make it difficult to work, which can put considerable strain on families.

By hiring a reliable car accident lawyer, victims can hold negligent parties responsible for their part in the accident and obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve. Here are a few reasons to choose Keating Law Firm:

  • Victims get a free consultation to determine whether they have a case or not

  • No legal fees are paid from clients' pockets, as Keating Law attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis

  • Keating Law attorneys have years of experience in dealing with major insurance companies and major corporations

Contact Keating Law today to book a free case review by dialing (866) 836-4878.


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