Noteworthy Results Specific case results. No two cases are alike.

Broken Ribs from Car Accidents: Symptoms, Treatment, & Compensable Damages


The first word most people who sustain a broken rib injury in a car accident would use to describe their condition would likely be “painful.” Broken ribs and damaged tissues in the chest can cause severe pain and pressure. The second word would be “scary,” given that broken ribs can affect lung capacity and make it quite difficult to breathe for some patients.

Broken ribs are not uncommon injuries in Indiana car accidents. Upon impact, the force of the steering wheel upon the chest can be enormous and cause a serious fracture or multiple breaks. In fact, approximately 10% of those who’ve experienced blunt trauma to the chest are admitted to the hospital with one or more fractured ribs, according to Medscape.

Symptoms & Side Effects of Fractured Rib Injuries

Car accident victims will need immediate medical attention to diagnose and treat their injuries. If the impact is strong enough to damage the ribs, it may have also damaged other internal components, such as the lungs, blood vessels, or spleen.

The symptoms of fractured ribs may include:

  • Pain in the chest area
  • Increased pain during inhalation
  • Increased pain when pressure is applied to the area

Some might experience shortness of breath, dizziness and lightheadedness, and headache.

When accident victims undergo a medical exam after the accident, the physician will assess the symptoms and most likely order x-rays. Not all fractures will always show up on x-rays though, and your doctor may order a CT scan or other tests to further investigate the injury.

Treatment for Rib Fracture

The good news is that broken ribs often heal on their own with little medical intervention and relatively few complications. If all goes well, fractured ribs take several weeks to heal. The focus of treatment is on pain management. The doctor will most likely prescribe pain medications and possibly muscle relaxers to help you feel more comfortable while your body is healing.

Wrapping the area with compression bandages to immobilize the broken ribs might prevent the patient from taking a deep breath, which could increase the risk of pneumonia, notes the Mayo Clinic.

Severe breaks or damage to internal organs as a result of the break or trauma may necessitate surgery.

Possible Complications from Broken Rib Injuries

Complications do sometimes surface. One of the most common complications that arise is pneumonia. Patients may be unable to breathe deeply because it’s too painful, which may lead to pneumonia. In order to prevent pneumonia and the possibility of partially collapsed lung tissue, patients should make an effort to cough and take the deepest breath possible at least once every hour, recommends WebMD.

Seeking Damages after an Indiana Car Accident

Indiana is a fault-based insurance state, which means that car accident victims may pursue a car accident claim or lawsuit against any parties responsible for the accident.

You can pursue compensation for damages such as:

  • Emergency room visit
  • Treatments
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Treatment for complications
  • Lost wages during your recovery
  • Pain and suffering
  • Any other losses directly related to your injury

To determine the value of your car accident claim, or for any other legal questions regarding an Indiana car accident, call our attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.