What Should I Do After An Auto Accident If I Have Chest Pain?

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in , .

Man driving his car holding his chest in pain

A seat belt and airbag are safety features to help save your life, but they can still cause harm to your body when you are in a serious car accident. Chest pains that follow a car accident should never be brushed aside as oftentimes, these can alert you to injuries not visibly detectable. Continue reading to see what you should do if you experience chest pain after your car accident. The attorneys at Matz Injury Law are ready to assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries.

What Should You Do If You Have Chest Pain After a Car Accident?

Chest pain can be a sudden sign of a life-threatening injury and should never be overlooked or accepted as normal. If you or a passenger in your vehicle are experiencing chest pain after an accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Timing is crucial when it comes to potential injuries in the chest region, and pain is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. A medical professional and team can run diagnostic tests (e.g., X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) and provide treatment once they are able to make an accurate diagnosis.

Documenting your injuries after an accident can be extremely helpful and provide you with the information needed to pursue an injury claim with the insurance company. Compile documents from the emergency room, specialists, and your own doctor throughout the course of your examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Being able to tie the chest pain and resulting diagnosis to the accident is key to proving your claim and obtaining the compensation you deserve.

You should also consider hiring an attorney in order to help you seek enough compensation to meet all your needs. A knowledgeable Michigan personal injury lawyer will be able to review your case, compile evidence, discuss your claim with the insurance companies, and seek a fair settlement. Not only will your attorney seek compensation for medical bills but also any lost wages and other damages you may be entitled to receive. You can start with a free case evaluation and go from there.

What Are the Symptoms of an Injury to the Chest?

Pain can occur in a variety of ways following an accident, and some of the symptoms you may experience after sustaining an injury to the chest area can include:

  • Pain while not moving
  • Pain when breathing, not just when taking deep breaths
  • Pain when coughing, hiccupping, sneezing, or laughing
  • Pain when performing light actions (such as twisting or standing up from a seated position) or movements that are not stress-inducing on your body.

This chest pain may be constant, occur only with movement, or create more of a burning sensation. It can also radiate to your stomach, upper back, neck, and shoulders. Wherever it resides, seek medical care as soon as possible.

Types of Chest Pain After a Car Accident

The different reasons why you might have chest pain after your car accident can relate to the type of injury you have, which may include any of the following.

Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is common and can cause various levels of pain in the chest or upper torso after an auto accident. It may even feel much like the aftermath of undergoing a strenuous workout. Essentially, during an accident, your rib cage may experience stretching or tearing. While the pain may be less severe than other types of injuries, it can still impede movement, lifting, breathing, coughing, sneezing, and laughing.

Rib Injury

Chest pain and difficulty breathing may alert you to a rib injury, which may be bruised or fractured ribs, breastbone, or sternum as a result of the accident. The discomfort of bruised ribs can be unbearable at times, and you will need time ` to heal before going about your normal daily routines. For those with fractured ribs, the pain can become more intense. It may feel excruciating and sharp, even while lying down, and it can cause a punctured lung.

Common signs you have fractured or broken ribs include severe pain as you breathe, sharp pains that shoot through the rib cage, and more pain with the touch of anything (e.g., pillow, jacket, etc.). Pronounced pain will also accompany any movement if you have rib fractures and can cause you to experience trouble breathing.

Internal Organ Damage

Chest pain can also be the result of a serious injury to the internal organs or blood vessels behind the chest wall, such as your heart, liver, spleen, or kidneys, that experience damage in the auto accident. These internal organ injuries can be life-threatening and require immediate evaluation and medical treatment.

Heart Attack

Any type of stress or trauma, such as that experienced during a car accident, can cause a heart attack, referred to medically as a myocardial infarction. It can happen immediately following the car crash or a short time later. Heart attack symptoms that car accident victims might be experiencing include chest pain, dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath, nausea, weakness in the legs or arms, irregular or rapid heart rate, and unconsciousness. If any of these occur, seek immediate medical attention.

What Are Some Common Causes of Chest Pain After a Car Accident?

Following a car accident, chest injuries and pain can result due to a few different causes other than stress leading to a heart attack. A sudden impact throws the motor vehicle occupants rapidly forward, causing seat belts to tighten and airbags to deploy. As a result, these restraining safety devices can apply pressure to the chest and upper body and result in pain and injury. While they can effectively stop you in place, the initial impact and forcing forward can still cause you to hit the steering wheel or other hard objects in the vehicle.

Seat Belt Injuries

During an accident, seat belts prevent you from being thrown out of the vehicle and also from being jostled around inside the vehicle’s interior. Yet, they can also cause a number of seat belt-related injuries.

The pressure applied by the restraint of a seat belt and shoulder harness can dig into the body, stopping the forward momentum and causing a variety of injuries, both minor and severe. Typically, these injuries appear as bruising and soreness in the chest area, and pain may increase with the movement of your arms or even when inhaling or exhaling. You may be able to see a distinct seat belt mark or sign expanding across your chest and abdomen as a result of the restraining action. While this marking may seem minor, it can be a sign of seat belt syndrome, which involves not only surface bruising, abrasions, or contusions but also severe underlying internal injuries. These injuries may reside in the spine, abdomen, bladder, kidneys, lungs, or heart.

Airbag Injuries

Deployed airbag in a car

The force and impact of airbags when they deploy can be damaging to the human body. The damaging effect is due to how rapidly they deploy (1/120th of one second). The closer you are to them when they deploy, the higher the chance of sustaining injury. Airbag injuries can range from minor, such as lacerations, abrasions, or contusions, to more serious, like broken bones, fractured ribs, internal bleeding, or internal organ damage. Much will depend on how close you are to the area of the explosive airbag deployment.

Can I Get Compensation for My Chest Pain?

When it comes to whether or not you can get compensation for your chest pain, the answer depends on a number of factors. It will be beneficial to check with a car accident attorney to determine what those factors are and if they apply to your accident and resulting injury. A personal injury attorney can carefully review your case, compile evidence, and calculate the amount of damages to pursue for your current and future medical expenses and more.

You can also expect your car accident lawyer to participate in negotiations with the insurance companies and seek the highest amount of compensation possible for your particular situation. Waiting to receive your car accident settlement can cause anxiety, and you may want to complete the process as soon as possible. Yet, be aware that the insurance companies look for any reason to deny your claim or offer you a low settlement early on to keep you from pursuing more. Do not give in to their pressure tactics and, instead, seek legal advice and representation to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Let Our Lawyers Save You the Heartache

Gavel on a table in front of

Obtaining the compensation that is rightfully yours is such a pain following a car accident. While you try to do everything right, the insurance companies still have the upper hand and can deny, extend, or offer a low settlement that leaves you heartbroken. You do have another choice, however, and that is to hire Matz Injury Law. Our lawyers are experienced, well-recognized, and will work diligently to obtain higher compensation for you or a loved one. Call our Michigan law firm today at 1-866-22Not33 or use the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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