How Do I Know If I Have a Punctured Lung From a Car Accident?

A car accident can cause many different traumas to the body. Some of the most common are injuries to the chest and lungs from high-speed impacts with the seat belt or steering column. Trauma to the chest can cause serious lung injuries, including a punctured or collapsed lung. A collapsed lung can cause a medical emergency in which the victim cannot breathe. If you get into a car accident, pay attention for the signs of a punctured lung. Detecting a punctured lung right away could help you receive emergency care before it turns into a collapsed lung.

What Is a Punctured Lung?

A punctured lung (traumatic pneumothorax) is an internal organ injury that occurs when a victim’s rib cage breaks from blunt force trauma. Then, the forces of the crash push the sharp broken rib into the air sac of the lung, puncturing it and causing minor to severe lung damage. The severity of damage can determine the symptoms experienced and the treatments required for recovery.

If a punctured lung causes serious damage and the car accident victim does not receive immediate medical care, the lung could collapse. This is a serious internal injury that could be fatal. In a minor case, a doctor may allow the punctured lung to repair on its own, with some medical monitoring to ensure no further complications. In a serious case, however, the doctor may need to insert a chest tube through the ribs to help release any air trapped in the chest cavity from the collapsed lung.

Symptoms of a Punctured Lung

You could be at risk of having a punctured lung after a car accident if you felt your chest or torso strike an object in the collision. If you slammed against your seat belt with great force, for example, or struck your chest against the steering wheel, you may have broken a rib or suffered another injury that puts you at risk of a punctured lung. After a car accident, take a few minutes to carefully assess yourself for possible personal injuries. Look out for common symptoms of a punctured lung.

  • Labored or abnormal breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A tight feeling in your chest
  • Chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin due to lack of oxygen

If you think you may have a punctured lung after a car accident, call 911 and request an ambulance. Immediate medical care is critical to prevent further complications, including a collapsed lung. You may have a collapsed lung if you notice symptoms such as more difficulty breathing, sharp chest pain and a feeling of pressure in the chest. Try to remain calm and steady your breathing while you wait for emergency care. An EMT may insert a needle through your ribs to help your lungs expand by releasing pressure in the chest cavity. Once you arrive at the hospital, a doctor may use a chest tube to help drain the air if you have a serious case.

Receiving Compensation for a Punctured Lung

It can take about six to eight weeks to fully recover from a punctured lung. Emergency and ongoing medical care can reach into the thousands of dollars. If you suffered a punctured or collapsed lung in a car accident in Sacramento, someone may owe you financial compensation for your losses. California is a fault state, meaning the party that caused your wreck will be liable for damages.

If the driver that crashed into you was negligent or reckless, such as by speeding or texting and driving, that driver may owe you insurance benefits. A successful insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit could repay you for past and future medical expenses, as well as lost wages and pain and suffering. A financial award could help you move forward after a punctured lung injury. Discuss your options for financial recovery with an attorney today for more information.