Suffering any type of injury—whether it is a small scrape, a broken bone, or a concussion—can wreak havoc on your long-term health. However, when you don’t know if you’ve suffered an injury or you have an unseen injury, it can make your recovery much longer and more painful.
A chest contusion is a bruise to the skin, muscle, or ribs that may or may not be visible. Such an injury causes pain, tenderness, and swelling. It also takes days to weeks to heal. Chest contusions from a car accident can even lead to more serious injuries, such as hematoma, where blood collects under the skin. If you or a loved one has been in an accident where you may have suffered a chest contusion, you deserve to know for sure and to put your suffering behind you. The best way to accomplish this is to speak with a trusted Fort Myers car accident injury lawyer today.
Types of Chest Contusions
Chest contusions range in severity. Some injuries are fairly minor, and victims only suffer swelling and some pain and discomfort. Other chest contusions can be deadly. The type of chest contusion that you suffer from depends on the type of accident you were in and the amount of force applied to your chest.
In a myocardial contusion, the heart itself is injured and bruised. This usually results from the extreme force directly over the heart, usually from a car accident.
Accidents cause a pulmonary contusion from extreme force placed on the chest resulting in injury to your lung tissue. This can cause internal bleeding and swelling. What’s so terrible about this injury is that symptoms generally appear slowly over time. When symptoms don’t show up right away, you may not know what caused your injury or that you were even injured, which can lead to additional health problems.
When force is applied directly to the sternum, it can cause bruising or even fractures to the sternum. This is a bruised sternum chest contusion. This injury is rarely deadly, but it can cause extreme pain and discomfort, and it often leads to pneumonia.
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What Causes Chest Contusions
Chest contusions have many causes, but car accidents are among the most common causes. It makes sense, too. To suffer a chest contusion injury, you must receive a strike to your chest with great force. Car accidents can cause such force. Physically demanding sports, like football and baseball, can also cause chest contusions. Car accidents injury over two million people every year resulting in injuries caused by:
Car companies design seat belts to keep you safe. However, to keep you safe, seat belts must also hold you in place. They tighten during an accident to prevent drivers and passengers from flying around or out of the vehicle. This also means that you could suffer an injury when the seat belt rapidly tightens itself to your body.
We have all driven down the road and seen other drivers sitting so close to the steering wheel that they can barely move their arms. Not only is it unsafe to drive this way, but also if you find yourself in an accident, sitting that close to the steering wheel could be deadly. If you are involved in a car accident, the impact from the accident could force your body into the steering wheel with such force that it causes a chest contusion.
Airbags are another car safety feature that can also injure you. Companies design airbags to inflate nearly instantly. They are designed this way so that they can provide you with a less firm surface to smack into in a car accident, instead of the steering wheel or dashboard. Because airbags deploy with such force, they can cause some injuries even as they generally lessen more severe ones.
Steps to Take After Your Accident
Regardless of the cause of your chest contusion, if you did not cause the injury, you should not bear any responsibility for its associated costs. To give yourself the best chance of maximizing your recovery, take these steps right after your accident:
- Call 911 – This is common sense. When you’re involved in an accident, you should call the police. They will generate a report of what happened, and while they may not assign fault, they will create an objective description of your accident. Calling 911 also gives you the chance to receive prompt medical attention. Since chest contusions are not usually visible injuries and may not show symptoms for days or weeks, letting a medical professional examine you immediately after your accident can help you recover faster and reduce your suffering.
- Speak with witnesses – The police will speak with witnesses, but sometimes the police may take a while to arrive at the scene. If you can, speak with witnesses on your own. They may provide an important perspective on the seconds leading up to your accident. At the very least, get their contact information so that your insurance company and lawyer can speak with them in the future.
- Take pictures – No matter what type of accident caused your chest contusion injury, take pictures. You want pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, any vehicles or equipment involved, and the conditions in the area. Pictures really can speak a thousand words when it comes to establishing fault and helping you maximize your financial recovery.
- Keep a journal – This might sound strange, but keeping a journal can help you immensely. When you work through your recovery process, you won’t remember the day-to-day suffering and hurdles that you had to overcome. However, if you write in your journal every day, it can serve as a memory bank of what it took for you to get better.
The final step is to contact a car accident lawyer. You deserve to get better. Letting go of the legal complexities can allow you to focus solely on your physical recovery. Working with a seasoned chest contusion lawyer in Florida can give you the peace of mind you deserve.
Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company, let them know you were involved in an accident, and don’t elaborate any further. Many people mistakenly believe that their insurance company is there to protect them after an injury. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Your insurance company will look for ways to increase its profits by denying your claim or raising your rates by holding you partially at fault for the accident.
Do not give your insurance company a statement until you have spoken with a trusted Florida personal injury lawyer. Unfortunately, seemingly innocent statements can get you into trouble and cost you money. Examples include:
- “I might have looked away for a second.”
- “I can’t be positive the light was green.”
- “Maybe I was going too fast.”
Each of these statements seems innocent enough. You are discussing what happened and your feelings. Unfortunately, your insurance company may view these statements as an admission of guilt and hold you partially or fully responsible for the accident as a result. When this happens, you could end up paying out of pocket for all of the medical bills that you currently have sitting on your kitchen table. We do not want to see this happen to you, which is why you must speak with a car accident lawyer before you give any statement to any insurance company.
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We know that what you want most is to get back to your regular life. Depending on the severity of your chest contusion injury, that may take a long time. This means you could be out of work temporarily or even permanently, leaving you to wonder how your bills will get paid.
That’s where the experience of a personal injury lawyer can be invaluable to you. Your lawyer will fight hard to try and get you compensation for the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of earning potential
- Emotional distress
- Rehabilitation costs
- Past, present, and future medical bills
When you have suffered a personal injury, like a chest contusion, you simply want to put this tragic and painful experience behind you. However, we caution you to not act in a rash manner when the at-fault party’s insurance company offers you a quick settlement. You might have a sense of joy if that happens, that you can finally put this behind you, but beware of low-ball settlement offers. The first offer from the insurance company likely won’t include enough funds for your future medical needs, which could leave you in financial ruin, all from an accident that you did not cause.
Insurance companies only make money when they do not pay out the full value of claims. Following your accident, they know that you are out of work, and they know that you have bills piling up. The insurance companies involved in your case will likely seek to take advantage of you and settle your claim quickly, for a greatly reduced amount.
Signing the low-ball settlement offer may mean you end up paying out of pocket for medical bills resulting from an injury you did not cause. When you sign the offer, you will most likely waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident. It adds insult to injury.
To understand the full value of your claim, you need to work with a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer. A car accident attorney can help you create an accurate estimate of your future needs based on your specific chest contusion injury and prognosis. This will give you a better idea of what your future medical needs are and how to properly account for them.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need multiple surgeries, extended hospital stays, rehabilitation, and you may have a reduced earning potential. You need to consider all of these factors, and more, to make sure that you recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Once More, See a Doctor
Florida law only allows you fourteen days after your accident to seek medical care to use your PIP insurance. This is why you must see your doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Two weeks may seem like a long time, but it’s not.
Life quickly gets in the way, especially when you are not feeling well, and it’s more difficult to get out. Waiting more than two weeks could mean you miss out on holding the at-fault party liable for your injuries, and more importantly, you could miss out on the financial benefit of receiving compensation for your injuries. Don’t delay. For your health and your financial recovery, see your doctor and follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
Retain an Attorney
Many clients think that personal injury law is easy; claims are easy, and insurance company negotiations are easy. However, these clients are wrong.
There are documents that claimants must provide, filing deadlines, and hearings. While it’s true that most personal injury cases settle out of court, your car accident lawyer will not want to settle your case unless it is right for you. Look for a lawyer that will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to understand your needs. If the insurance representatives refuse to be reasonable, make sure your lawyer is fully prepared to take your case all the way to trial.
Finally, make sure the car accident lawyer you retain possesses the resources to settle your case or take it to trial, if necessary, to maximize your financial recovery.