When involved in a car accident, most people expect to suffer broken bones, cuts and lacerations, and even severe scarring and bruising. However, many people do not realize that you can also experience internal injuries, which are typically unable to be seen without the help of a doctor.
It is crucial that you seek medical treatment to rule out serious internal injuries, such as a blunt cardiac injury, after a car accident. A professional medical provider will take notes of your symptoms, assess the injury location, run tests, and develop a treatment plan to help you heal properly.
What is a blunt cardiac injury?
According to The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, a blunt cardiac injury is when the heart experiences blunt trauma. This condition can lead to something as minor as irregular arrhythmias or something very dangerous and deadly such as a cardiac rupture. A blunt cardiac injury is a form of a “cardiac contusion,” and these injuries are common results of motor vehicle accidents. The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that 20 percent of all car accident fatalities involve some type of blunt trauma to the chest or heart.
It is extremely important that you have your heart and chest checked by a licensed physician immediately following a car accident. The reason for this is because with severe impact and force, the heart can become wedged in between the spine and sternum or even become severely torn. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to survive any type of chest or heart injuries. Therefore, patients who suffer these injuries usually pass away before or not long after they make it to the hospital.
The most common symptoms of blunt cardiac injury
Most individuals who are transported to the emergency room with a blunt cardiac injury usually complain of symptoms, such as:
- Pain in their heart or chest area
- Inability to breath, difficulty breathing, painful breathing, or other breathing issues
- Low blood pressure
- Fast heart beats, which are often described as a pounding or racing heart
- Chest bruising
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
The doctor will likely do a physical exam, electrocardiography, and an ultrasonography to check out your heart. Most individuals who have a cardiac contusion usually have other severe internal injuries as well. Other injuries can cause you to not realize that you have a blunt cardiac injury. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your doctor thoroughly examines your heart and chest area even if you do not think that you have any symptoms of this type of injury.
Factors that increase your chances of suffering a cardiac contusion in a car accident
While anyone has the possibility to suffer a blunt cardiac injury, there are certain factors that increase your chances of suffering this type of injury in a car accident. Some of these factors include:
- Where you were sitting in the car when the crash occurred: Even though anyone in a vehicle can suffer a blunt cardiac injury, these injuries are more common among the driver or front seat passengers. The reason for this is because those in the front experience trauma to the chest from air bags, the dashboard, or even the windshield.
- Your age: The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer any type of chest injury. This is usually because our bodies become more fragile, making them more vulnerable to trauma. In addition, as you age, your bones become weaker and your muscles lose strength, increasing your risk of experiencing a blunt cardiac injury or other chest injuries.
- The type of crash you were involved in: In any type of accident, you may strike a hard object in the vehicle, which may lead to a blunt cardiac injury. However, these types of injuries are more common in certain accidents. A few of the most common types of crashes that often lead to chest injuries are rollover accidents, head-on crashes, rear-end accidents, and T-bone accidents. A person who is involved in a sideswipe accident or a backup accident is less likely to suffer a chest injury.
How do objects within the vehicle cause blunt cardiac injuries?
Blunt cardiac injuries are often caused by an individual’s body experiencing extreme force and impact from an object within the vehicle during an accident. There are a variety of different objects that may cause these types of injuries, but the most common are:
- The steering wheel: Most victims who visit emergency rooms due to chest pain following a car accident report that their body slammed into the steering wheel during the accident. This commonly happens because the driver is pushed forward, leaving them no choice but to strike the steering wheel. As a result, they may experience severe chest injuries such as a blunt cardiac injury.
- The dashboard: The dashboard is a very hard object that is placed in the front of the vehicle right below the windshield. When a car accident occurs, the individuals in the front seat are often flung into the dashboard. This can lead to serious and painful chest injuries.
- Seat belts: Although seat belts are placed in cars to prevent injuries and save lives, they can also cause blunt cardiac injuries. The reason for this is because the seat belt may become tight around the chest area, compressing the heart. Therefore, it is common for doctors to look for seat belt marks on the chest when examining and looking for chest injuries.
- Airbags: Airbags deploy very fast to try to prevent individuals from going through the windshield or experiencing severe injuries. However, the airbags themselves can cause injuries to the individual. For example, when the airbag deploys, it may collide with your chest area very quickly, causing severe chest pain and injuries.
If you suffer a blunt cardiac injury or any other type of chest injury after being involved in a car accident, the Philbrook Law Office is here to help you. Our Vancouver, WA car accident lawyers are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable when it comes to these types of injuries, and we will do everything we can to hold the individual who caused your accident and injuries accountable for their negligent actions. Please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation at our Battle Ground or Vancouver, WA office today. We also gladly assist car accident victims in the state of Oregon.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.