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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

Bruised Ribs from Car Accident | What Victims Need to Know

Updated: Jan 17

After a car crash, the first thing those involved need to do is seek medical attention for their injuries. Car accidents commonly result in damage to both the vehicle and its occupants, and some of this damage isn't necessarily apparent at first.

Many people, for example, wonder why their ribs hurt after a car accident. Some of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident are bruised or broken ribs, rib fractures, and soft tissue injuries in the chest cavity.

Those who have suffered from rib injuries in an accident that was not their fault should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from Keating Law Firm to help them seek compensation for their damages.

Understanding Chest Anatomy

Understanding Chest Anatomy

The chest, often known as the thoracic cavity or thorax, houses a number of important anatomical organs and structures. Ribs are bones that form a protective structure around vital organs. Between these ribs are muscles known as intercostal muscles that help with breathing.

Collectively, these structures are referred to as the chest wall. A rib injury can cause damage to these muscles, which causes rib pain and makes breathing more difficult, which is why breathing exercises are often used when treating a rib injury.

The Function of the Rib Bones

Ribs protect vital organs such as the lungs and heart, forming what is known as the rib cage. When there is trauma to the chest, the organs in the thorax, those in the nearby abdomen, and the vertebrae are all susceptible to injury.

Types of Ribs

There are 12 ribs in total, and they are separated into three main types. The first seven ribs attach to the breast bone or sternum, located in the front of the chest. Another category is false ribs (ribs 8 to 10).

These ribs do not attach to bones but cartilage above them. Because they aren't linked to the breast bone or other ribs, ribs 11 and 12 are called floating ribs. These ribs are merely attached behind the chest.

Common Rib Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents

Because the rib cage protects some of the most important organs in the body, blunt force trauma to the area can have serious consequences. Here are some of the most common rib injuries that can occur as a result of a car accident:

  • Broken rib

  • Bruised rib

  • Rib fracture

  • Damage to internal organs

  • Soft tissue injuries

What Are Bruised Ribs?

A direct hit to the chest causes a rib contusion or bruised ribs. In a car accident, this is often caused by direct contact with a solid object, such as a steering wheel or airbag. When this impact occurs, it can cause blood vessels to rupture, and injury to surrounding structures, referred to as a bruised rib. The truth is that car accidents are the leading cause of broken or bruised ribs.

Rest and cold therapy can assist with chest pain and breathing difficulties, which are two of the most common symptoms associated with bruised ribs. The injuries should be evaluated by a medical professional to ensure that it isn't something more serious.

Symptoms of Bruised Ribs

Chest pain that occurs suddenly upon impact is the most noticeable indication of a contusion or bruised rib. When there is chest trauma, the ribs could bruise, break, or detach from the sternum.

Over the next several hours, bruising may occur, and the area around the ribs will probably be sensitive to the touch. Sneezing or coughing may be agonizing. Tenderness and soreness over the wounded area are also common symptoms.

If a car accident victim has trouble breathing, it is essential that he or she seek immediate medical attention.

While injured ribs are excruciatingly painful, they usually heal fully. Most of the pain following chest trauma is produced by an injury to the neighboring musculature and connective tissue.

How Are Bruised Ribs Treated?

Rib injuries are notoriously hard to cure. Victims are encouraged to seek medical assistance following a car accident to rule out conditions such as a rib fracture and other more serious issues, such as a collapsed lung or pneumothorax.

The major treatments recommended for injured ribs are rest and activity restriction. Some discomfort and swelling may be reduced by using cold therapy.

Trouble Breathing

A physician may prescribe pain medicine to help relieve the chest pain since deep breaths can make the pain worse. Once symptoms start to ease, gentle coughing exercises are also recommended.

Therefore, those with rib bruises are encouraged to practice shallow breathing instead of deep breathing until the injuries are fully healed. Long-acting anesthetic shots at the bruising site may also help inhibit the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain for a while, easing symptoms.

Bruised or Broken Ribs are Often Overlooked

Victims of car crashes tend to believe that being sore is normal. As a result, rib injuries aren't often treated right away following a car accident.

The longer a rib injury is left unchecked, the greater the danger of complications such as pneumothorax (which can be caused when a rib pierces a lung) or even death. This is especially true for elderly sufferers, whose bones are more frail and prone to breaking.

To make matters worse, because rib fractures make breathing difficult, victims are less likely to breathe deeply, which can lead to pneumonia or other issues.

Compensation for a Bruised or Broken Rib

When a person suffers as a result of the negligence or carelessness of others, they may be entitled to compensation for the damages they suffered.

This doesn't just include medical costs but also lost wages due to an inability to work. In some situations, victims may be able to claim special damages such as pain and suffering. If these rib injuries cause long-term issues, victims may claim for future medical expenses.

Those who have suffered bruised and broken ribs following a car accident are encouraged to seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury lawyer from Keating Law Firm to determine a fair settlement amount and what damages can be claimed.

Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Case Following Bruised and Broken Ribs

A bruised or broken rib can cause significant pain and discomfort. Often, people cannot work for a long time after a car accident occurs, which is why it is essential to file a personal injury claim to obtain compensation for their damages. However, when filing a personal injury claim, the victim's job is to prove that the other driver was careless or reckless. This is referred to as negligence.

Proving negligence involves proving four elements. These are a duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and injuries.

Duty of Care

The first element that must be proved is that the driver had a duty to act responsibly on the road in a way that would not endanger others. Proving this is generally not difficult, as all motorists have a responsibility to keep others safe.

Breach of Duty

Next, a claimant must prove that the defendant failed to provide this duty of care through careless or reckless acts, such as driving under the influence, ignoring a red traffic light, or failing to heed right of way.


The victim must also prove that this breach of duty or failure to act responsibly caused the accident.

Resulting Injuries

Finally, claimants must also prove that the bruised or broken rib injuries that they sustained were a direct result of the car accident and not because of an underlying issue.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help!

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help!

Proving negligence in a car accident isn't always easy. Fault laws also differ from one state to another, so it can sometimes be difficult to know what the options are when a car crash occurs.

The good news is that the best car accident lawyer can assist victims in proving negligence by collecting and providing evidence such as photographs, security camera footage, medical bills, witness statements, and testimonies from medical experts.

They also handle all the paperwork, so victims can focus on the recovery process while their attorney works to obtain a settlement award on their behalf.

Most car accident cases are settled out of court, but one or both parties may not be willing to settle in some cases. In such instances, the case will go to court, where both parties will have their attorneys defend them.

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

Rib bruising can cause severe pain and discomfort and may prevent victims from living normal lives while their injuries heal.

The reality is that car accidents don't just end in injuries like broken ribs or a broken neck but also include car and other property damages, which can cause significant financial strain, especially for those who are unable to work.

By hiring an experienced attorney, victims can hold negligent parties liable for causing the accident and get the compensation they deserve. Here are a few reasons to choose a lawyer from Keating Law Firm:

  • Victims get a free consultation to discuss the specifics of their case

  • A contingency fee basis means that claimants need not pay legal fees unless their lawyer successfully obtains a settlement award

  • Keating Law attorneys have decades of experience with car accident cases

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

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