What Are Internal Injuries?
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What Are Internal Injuries?

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Posted on May 1, 2024

Car accidents are a major cause of injuries and deaths in the United States. In a single recent year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 3.8 million people went to emergency rooms after motor vehicle accidents.

Car accident injury rates have reached 11 hospital visits per every 1,000 people per year. Some car accident injuries are obvious—like broken bones and burns—but internal injuries are not always immediately recognized because they occur inside the body and aren’t visible on the surface. What are internal injuries, how do they occur, and what are some important warning signs of internal injuries after an accident?

Understanding Internal Injuries

The crash force of a car accident is powerful, turning a 125-pound adult into a force of over 6,000 pounds thrust forward against the seatbelt and then snapped back against the seat in an accident. In addition, the internal structures of the vehicle such as the dash, doors, and roof may forcefully collapse inward, hitting the motorist at multiple angles during the accident and causing blunt trauma to the body.

Car accident experts warn that there are actually three collisions in every accident, the vehicle’s collision, the motorist’s collision with structures inside the vehicle, and an internal collision as organs are slammed inside the body. It’s this internal collision that causes many internal injuries.

Internal injuries are especially dangerous because they aren’t immediately detectable. Not only do they not show on the body’s surface, but they don’t always present immediate pain or other symptoms. Some types of internal injuries develop in the hours and days after an accident due to internal trauma that results in bleeding, inflammation, and damage.

Common Internal Injuries From Car Accidents

Internal injuries occur from crash force, blunt trauma, and penetrating trauma in a car accident. Examples of internal injuries commonly diagnosed after car accidents include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: these injuries occur through blunt trauma to the head or from the violent jarring of an accident which causes the brain to move back and forth inside the head and bump against the skull.
  • Internal bleeding: this occurs as a result of trauma to the organs inside the body from the internal “collision.”
  • Damage to the spleen; the spleen is a fragile organ located on the left side of the body under the rib cage where it is vulnerable to trauma in a car accident.
  • Liver damage: Like the spleen, the liver is fragile and in an anterior position inside the body, leaving it vulnerable to damage in an accident.
  • Punctured lungs: broken ribs commonly occur in car accidents from the crash force thrusting the body against the seatbelt and the inward explosion of the airbag. Although these devices save lives, they may cause broken ribs that then pierce the lungs.
  • Ruptured diaphragm: the diaphragm is a muscle located under the rib cage where it plays a critical role in breathing. As the torso endures the crash force trauma, this muscle may sustain injuries that interfere with breathing.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: this large blood vessel returns oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. Its location in the center of the chest leaves it vulnerable to injury in a crash.

Many of the above internal injuries can have deadly results after a car accident if not promptly identified and treated.

Warning Signs of Internal Injuries After a Car Accident

After a car accident, it’s essential to go to a hospital and request a complete medical evaluation as well as treatment for obvious injuries visible on the outside of the body. This helps to identify internal injuries before they reveal symptoms so the medical provider can prevent further harm by quickly addressing the situation with emergency medical treatment. Some signs that you might have suffered internal injuries in a car accident include the following:

  • Headache, ringing in the ears, and vision problems could indicate a traumatic brain injury.
  • Bloating, swelling, and tenderness in the abdomen may indicate internal organ damage.
  • Difficulty breathing could indicate a punctured or collapsed lung or damage to the diaphragm.
  • Turning pale, feeling lightheaded, or feeling cold may indicate internal bleeding.
  • Blood in the urine or stool could indicate internal organ damage.

Signs of shock, nausea, and bruising may be warning signs of internal injuries after a car accident. Never ignore symptoms that develop during the hours and days after an accident. If you’ve been injured from a car accident, get in touch with a Kent car accident attorney today. Contact Caffee Accident & Injury Lawyers today or give us a call at (206)-752-6632.