Personal Injury Lawyers Bronx and Westchester County, New York

Symptoms of a Broken Rib After A Car Accident

Recognize and understand the signs of rib injuries

Car accidents can range from minor fender benders to life-threatening collisions. Unfortunately, even a seemingly minor accident can result in significant injuries such as broken ribs. The pain and discomfort caused by a broken rib can limit a person's mobility and make everyday activities unbearable. Left untreated, a broken rib can lead to serious complications that can put your life in danger.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of broken ribs after a car accident can jumpstart your road to recovery. At Giampa Law, we are dedicated to helping clients receive the compensation they rightfully deserve. Your rib injury should not be taken lightly. Seek medical attention, then get legal advice. We can advocate for your rights throughout the process.

How car accidents cause rib injuries

During a car accident, the human body can experience sudden and intense movements. The ribcage, in particular, is vulnerable to compression and damage from the force of impact. The chest may collide with a part of the vehicle, resulting in damage to one or more ribs. A broken rib can be caused by contact with the:

  • Seatbelts
  • Airbag
  • Steering wheel
  • Dashboard

There are 24 ribs that can potentially be injured after a car accident. Rib injuries include:

Bruised rib

A bruised rib occurs when the muscles and tissues surrounding the rib cage become injured. When your seatbelt is excessively tight or the airbag deploys rapidly, a driver or passenger can suffer a bruised rib. This can happen from any collision, such as a rear-end accident or side-pact crash. Although bruised ribs are not typically considered to be serious, they can still be very painful and cause significant discomfort.

Cracked rib

The force of impact from a car accident can cause damage directly to the rib. Even the smallest crack in a rib can cause pain, requiring medication for pain management and rest to allow the rib to heal. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the rib, especially if the rib breaks completely.

Broken rib

A broken rib is an injury where one or more ribs are completely fractured or broken. Trauma to the chest from impact with the dashboard or steering wheel can cause a rib fracture. The sharp edges of a broken rib or shattered pieces of bone can find themselves lodged into nearby major organs, like the lungs, heart, or liver.

Respiratory problems can also result from a broken rib, requiring immediate medical attention. Although some broken ribs can heal without surgery, surgery may be necessary if the damage is severe. Surgery is especially likely to be needed if the victim has a flail chest, a serious rib fracture where three or more ribs are broken in two or more places.

Symptoms of a fractured rib

Broken ribs are painful and can worsen without a proper medical evaluation. Common signs and symptoms of a broken rib include:

  • Pain in chest or back
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain that worsens with breathing or coughing
  • Swelling or bruising on the chest
  • Tenderness when pressing on the chest

If you have been involved in a car accident and suspect you may have broken ribs, seek medical attention immediately. Proper diagnosis and treatment of broken ribs can help prevent life-threatening complications and promote a full recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional after a car accident, even if you are not experiencing symptoms.

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    Potential broken rib complications

    Because the ribs protect critical internal organs, a broken rib can have severe consequences. As ribs break, the sharp edges of the rib bones can puncture an organ and result in life-threatening complications.


    Pneumothorax is a condition that can occur when a broken rib punctures a lung, causing air to leak into the space between the lung and chest wall. This can result in a collapsed lung, making it difficult for a person to breathe. As they continue to breathe, more air becomes trapped in this space between the lung and chest wall, increasing pressure on the lung and heart, which can be fatal.

    Blood vessel

    A broken rib can also puncture a blood vessel in the chest. As blood leaks from a vessel, the victim is at risk of internal bleeding, which can lead to shock, dizziness, low blood pressure, and organ damage or even organ failure.

    Ruptured spleen

    The spleen is responsible for filtering and removing old or damaged red blood cells from the body. Its location in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen makes it more susceptible to damage from broken ribs. The impact to the chest a person can experience in a car accident can cause a rib to break and puncture the spleen. A ruptured spleen, like damage to a blood vessel, can cause internal bleeding.

    Get legal help after a car accident

    While a bruised or cracked rib may eventually heal on its own, a broken rib can lead to serious and life-threatening complications if left untreated. Seeking medical attention is crucial to determining the severity of your rib injury and preventing further complications. We understand that if you do experience any of these rib injuries, you deserve to be covered and compensated fairly.

    The car accident attorneys at Giampa Law know the stakes are high after a car accident. We fight hard for settlement amounts not a penny less than what our clients deserve. Whether it's through negotiations or in court, we’re ready to help you. If you’ve suffered a broken rib after a car accident, contact our law firm today.

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