Organ Damage in Vehicle Accidents

The driver and the passengers in a vehicle involved in a serious accident can suffer a wide range of injuries, including potentially life threatening injuries to internal organs. These injuries, if survived, can lead to serious, lifelong impairments. Many times accident victims may suffer multiple organ injuries, depending on the force of the accident and whether the person was using a seatbelt.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide these estimates:  

  • Americans spend more than one million days in the hospital each year due to vehicle crash injuries.
  • The lifetime medical costs due to crash injuries in 2012 totaled an estimated $18 billion. More than 75% of those costs are incurred during the first 18 months after the accident.
  • The lifetime value of work lost due to 2012 vehicle accident injuries was an estimated $33 billion.
  • More than 2.5 million Americans were treated at emergency departments and nearly 200,000 were later hospitalized for vehicle crash injuries in 2012.
  • Each crash-related emergency department visit costs an average of $3,300, and each hospitalization costs about $57,000 over a person’s lifetime.

Organ injuries that may be suffered in a vehicle accident include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries may happen because the head is violently shaken due to the force of the accident or something penetrates into the vehicle and strikes the person’s head. This can force the brain to hit the interior of the skull and injure brain cells. This damage can result in changes in personality, emotional problems, decreased mental and physical capacity, and death. Those surviving these injuries may face substantial ongoing costs for medical treatment and rehabilitation, as well as suffer lost income due to their incapacity.
  • A rupture of the abdominal aorta (which supplies blood to much of the abdominal cavity) may occur if the victim’s stomach becomes compressed during an accident. This injury is normally fatal, due to large amounts of blood being lost and bled into the abdominal cavity.
  • A pneumothorax may happen when ribs are broken and they puncture one or both lungs, which can cause the lung to collapse. If air from the punctured lung enters the chest cavity, normal lung function is reduced, decreasing the accident victim’s oxygen intake. This can be a life-threatening injury if not treated soon enough and appropriately.
  • Lung damage may also occur if the person inhaled smoke due to a fire caused by the accident.
  • If the person’s spleen is ruptured, it may need to be surgically removed. The spleen is part of the body’s immune system, and it helps destroy hazardous bacteria in the body. This will impact the person’s immune system and may require lifelong immunizations.
  • Your skin is your largest organ, and accident victims can suffer serious cuts and burns due to a fire in the passenger compartment or contact with a hot part of the vehicle. Serious burns can result in painful and long-lasting treatment.

Overall some internal organs are more likely to be injured than others. An analysis of five year’s worth of abdominal injuries (89.5% of them caused in vehicle accidents) suffered by 870 people treated at a major regional trauma center in Baltimore, published in the Annals of Surgery, showed:

  • Injury to the spleen was the most common injury, presenting in 42% of patients. In 8% of patients it was the only injury.
  • Liver injuries occurred in 35.6% of patients. Twenty-nine people died due to their liver injuries.
  • Internal bleeding into the abdominal cavity happened in 127 patients, or 14.6% of the total.
  • Bowel injuries were found in 41 people, or 4.2% of the group.
  • Bladders were ruptured in 28 people; all but one happened due to a broken pelvis.

In an accident you may have suffered organ damage without immediately realizing it. Because of the stress and confusion of the situation, adrenaline in your system may mask your injuries. Possible symptoms of organ damage include:

  • Unusual bruising caused by internal bleeding
  • Increased breathing and heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Mental confusion
  • A swollen abdomen.

A medical professional should examine you as soon as possible after the accident to determine what, if any, injuries you have suffered and what you should do to care for your injuries.

Lexington Attorney Julie ButcherIf you have been injured in a vehicle accident in Kentucky caused by the negligence of another party, you need to know your legal rights and have them protected. You can bet the insurance company knows what to do and will work to keep you from getting fair compensation. We can help. Call Julie Butcher, the Lexington, KY Vehicle Accident Lawyer at 859-233-3641 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation today.