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What to Do if You Have Internal Injuries After Being in a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, the aftermath can often be disorienting and overwhelming. Visible injuries are one thing, but what about the unseen, potentially life-threatening internal injuries that can lurk beneath the surface? In the chaotic aftermath of a collision, knowing how to recognize and respond to signs of internal injuries can make all the difference in your recovery. Appreciating when you may be suffering from an internal injury may also afford you better opportunities to protect yourself legally down the road.

Need to Know:

  • Internal injuries can cause serious harm if left untreated. If you are experiencing pain in a certain area, bruising, nausea, or blood in your urine or stool after a car accident, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Because internal injuries do not always manifest themselves immediately, it is important to be extra vigilant in monitoring your body for any signs or symptoms of an internal injury. Seek medical attention if you are uncertain whether you have sustained an internal injury.
  • You should be as honest as possible with your doctor when describing your symptoms. This will help put you on the path to recovery and provide a clear record of your injuries if you choose to pursue a lawsuit.

Internal injuries are serious medical issues, which is why it’s so important to seek medical attention and get the right tests if you feel anything is not right after a car accident. These tests may be essential in reaching the appropriate medical diagnosis and can be lifesaving. Also, these test results could serve as the foundation for a future lawsuit for your injuries if they occurred as a result of another party’s negligence. The car accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

In This Article:

How to Make Sure You Don’t Have Internal Injuries

Internal injuries are not always immediately obvious, and symptoms may not appear immediately after a car accident, but they can cause serious harm or even be fatal if left untreated. They also cannot be treated using over-the-counter medications or treatments, and they tend not to go away on their own. Treatments for internal injuries often require surgery or even organ transplants.

Some symptoms of internal injuries can include pain, nausea and vomiting, severe bruising, signs of shock, and blood in urine or stool. Even if you are not experiencing any of these specific symptoms, you know your body best. If you feel something isn’t right, schedule a doctor’s visit or go to the hospital right away so you can receive the medical treatment you need or rule out the possibility of an internal injury.

If you are presenting at a doctor’s appointment after a car accident, it is likely you have external injuries or at least injuries that you can clearly point to. But often, internal injuries require further testing to be diagnosed. Some tests that could be run to determine whether there are internal injuries include:

X-Ray: An X-ray uses radiation to take an image of the inside of the body. X-rays are often used to show major bone issues, such as misalignments, fractures, or dislocations, but they can also be used to rule out a fracture if your doctor suspects you might have an internal or soft tissue injury.

CT Scan: A CT scan also uses radiation to take an image of the inside of the body, but the image it produces is much more detailed than an X-ray. CT scans are also quick, making them ideal for emergencies. They can show blood clots, subtle bone fractures (that might not show up on X-rays), and organ injuries.

Angiogram: An angiogram is a type of scan that shows blood flow through arteries or veins. Blood vessels do not show clearly on a normal X-ray, so these scans can help diagnose blood clots, aneurysms, or other blood vessel blockages.

Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to take real-time images of soft tissue or organs. An ultrasound exam can help diagnose unexplained pain and show anything abnormal internally.

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging creates detailed images of the inside of the body, including bones, organs, and tissues, using a large magnet and radio waves. Like an ultrasound, it is non-invasive and uses no radiation. MRIs are detailed, they can take 30-60 minutes, so they are not ideal for emergencies.

Types of Internal Injuries

Any type of internal injury requires immediate medical attention. First and foremost, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described below, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Internal injuries are a medical emergency and cannot be treated with just first aid. Otherwise, knowing different kinds of internal injuries and how a car accident may contribute to them can be helpful when seeking treatment.

Internal Bleeding: Internal bleeding occurs when blood vessels rupture. An intense impact like one might experience in a car accident (blunt force trauma) could cause blood vessels to rupture. Blood then leaks into other organs or spaces it should not be, which can be problematic. If a blood vessel ruptures, there is also a risk of blood clots, which are dangerous because they prevent necessary blood circulation. Internal bleeding can cause any of the following symptoms.

  • Pain in a specific area
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Pale complexion and/or clammy skin
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Unconsciousness

Organ Damage (kidney, liver, spleen): Broken bones can pierce organs or blood vessels and lead to internal damage and/or internal bleeding. This injury can be the result of the force of impact in the crash. Also, this could occur if the victim is struck by plastic, glass, metal, or debris because of the crash impact, which would cause a penetrating wound.

Fractured Ribs: Fractured ribs are painful on their own, but they can also puncture the lungs, which is extremely dangerous. The impact of a crash can cause the driver to forcefully collide with the steering wheel, which could cause cracked ribs.

Pneumothorax (collapsed lung): A collapsed lung can occur if the lung is punctured, causing air to flood the chest cavity. This can be caused by blunt force trauma, like the intense impact of a car crash. Pneumothorax symptoms can include chest pain on one side, shortness of breath, fast breathing, a cough, fatigue, a fast heart rate, and/or bluish skin, lips, or nails.

Brain Bleeding: Brain bleeding, sometimes also known as a brain hemorrhage, is when bleeding occurs either within the brain tissue itself or between the brain tissue and the skull. Brain bleeds are extremely dangerous because they limit the oxygen flow through the brain, causing potential brain damage and even death. Brain bleeding can occur as a result of head trauma; in a car accident, this might happen because of airbag deployment, or the victim’s head being struck against the windshield, dashboard, airbags, or steering wheel. Symptoms of a brain hemorrhage can include a sudden, severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, and a lack of energy.

Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm (AAA): An AAA occurs when the aorta (the largest blood vessel in the body) becomes enlarged in the stomach area. If this ruptures, it could be life-threatening. Trauma from deceleration (a sudden intense stop) could cause an abdominal aorta aneurysm, possibly by being thrown against the seatbelt or the seatbelt tightening around the abdomen during a crash.

How to Seek Compensation for Internal Injuries

Seeking compensation for internal injuries can be more complex than when your injuries are just external. Although internal injuries can cause serious damage, a person who has suffered internal injuries may look as if nothing is wrong. This is why it is so important to have a paper trail of medical records after a car accident.

Typically, after a car accident, many people instinctively make a record of their injuries and damages. For example, if they have a bruise or gash on their head they might take a picture of it in the aftermath of the accident, either for their own reference or to show a doctor later. These kinds of photos can help in cases where the injured victim has delayed medical attention.

Medical records can act as evidence of a person’s injuries in a case, but a photograph can also help explain an injury you are claiming damages for that you may not have sought immediate medical treatment for. With internal injuries, this is not the case; a photograph will not show damage to your organs. It is important to, from a legal vantage point, go seek medical attention if you’re experiencing internal duress so that you can document your health status.

It is important to be as honest as possible with your doctor about your symptoms and your medical history. Don’t exaggerate your pain, but don’t minimize it either. There are people who try to muscle their way through the process and don’t necessarily reveal to their physicians that there are certain things bothering them–wishing them away or thinking they’re going to go away.

But generally, if you have real internal damage, it doesn’t often get better on its own. Being as candid as possible is important because that truth allows a physician to better provide you with counsel and treatment options. Ultimately, this will benefit your health and set you on the path to recovery, as well as put you in the best legal place to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help If You Have Internal Injuries After a Car Accident

The personal injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are here to help if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident. They have a proven track record of obtaining compensation for those who have unfortunately suffered internal injuries because of various kinds of accidents.

Notable verdicts and settlements include:

  • $13,500,000 settlement for a pedestrian who was struck by a company-owned vehicle, resulting in multiple injuries including a lacerated spleen.
  • $12,000,000 settlement for a 5-year-old child who suffered a lacerated liver after he was struck by a car that jumped the sidewalk because of a collision
  • $12,000,000 settlement for a tunnel worker who fell 40 feet into a ventilation shaft and suffered internal injuries to his lungs, kidneys, and bladder.
  • $10,875,000 jury verdict for a union worker who suffered internal injuries after he fell from a rooftop construction site and was impaled on steel rebar.
  • $6,793,881 jury verdict for a union worker who suffered severe lacerations to his gastrointestinal tract after falling and being impaled by an uncapped rebar.
  • $4,475,000 settlement for the family of an ironworker who suffered fatal internal injuries after a construction accident.

If you or a loved one has experienced internal injuries or damages as a result of a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with the auto injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy.

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