Due to the force exerted on the upper body by your seat belt and/or airbag, one serious injury drivers can sustain in a car accident is a collapsed lung. While you may not realize you have been injured immediately after a collision, you may start to experience chest pain and difficulty breathing hours later if you have a collapsed lung.
While a collapsed lung is curable if treated quickly, it can lead to serious complications such as shock, inflammation, and even death without treatment. This makes it important that people who have recently been involved in a car accident know the signs to look out for indicating that they may be suffering from a collapsed lung, as seeking immediate medical attention for a collapsed lung significantly improves one’s chances of making a full recovery.
AttorneyJeff is a Hesperia, California car accident attorney helping victims claim compensation for injuries like a collapsed lung. Please reach out for a case consultation.
What is a Collapsed Lung?
Pneumothorax, also called a collapsed or punctured lung, is a serious medical condition in which air or liquid fills the space between the two layers of your lung’s tissue lining. This puts pressure on your lungs, making it difficult (or even impossible) for them to expand and take in oxygen. Pneumothorax can even lead to the complete collapse of the lung.
While pneumothorax can occur spontaneously, it is often the result of severe trauma to the chest such as can occur in a car accident. A collapsed lung is a serious injury that needs to be treated as soon as possible, otherwise serious, or even fatal, complications can occur.
How Can a Car Accident Cause a Collapsed Lung?
You may find yourself wondering how exactly a car accident can lead to a collapsed lung. The most common reason car accidents cause pneumothorax is due to the forces exerted on the body during the accident. In particular, the trauma of colliding with the airbag or steering wheel can damage the lungs. This can also happen if traumatic forces are exerted by the seat belt, particularly if it is not being worn correctly.
A collapsed lung can also occur if the accident results in broken ribs, as this can cause trauma to, or even puncture, a lung. It’s important that people who have been involved in a car accident are evaluated by medical professionals soon after the incident, as examinations can identify any underlying injuries that may not be immediately apparent at the scene of the accident.
Common Signs of a Collapsed Lung
The symptoms of a collapsed lung can vary greatly from one patient to the next, making it important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible if you notice any unusual symptoms following a car accident. Immediate intervention and treatment can help ensure that you do not suffer any long-term complications from your injuries.
This makes it critical that you look out for possible signs of a collapsed lung following a car accident including:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shallow breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Bluish discoloration of the skin (indicating a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream)
- A cough, often accompanied with chest pain
If you or a loved one shows signs of any of these symptoms following a car accident, it is critical that medical attention is received as soon as possible. Medical intervention can help prevent complications while ensuring that the lungs are able to heal properly.
How is a Collapsed Lung Treated?
Treatment for a collapsed lung will depend on the size, severity, and cause of the injury to your lung. Oftentimes, mild pneumothorax will eventually heal on its own and the lung will re-expand. In this case, treatment will often involve observation to ensure symptoms do not worsen as well as supplemental oxygen to ensure enough oxygen is getting into the bloodstream while the lung heals.
In more serious cases, treatment for a punctured lung may involve inserting a needle or tube into the chest cavity to relieve pressure on the lungs. Surgery may also be required, particularly if there is severe damage to lung tissues caused by broken ribs.
Consult a Southern California Car Accident Attorney Today
Suffering from a collapsed lung following a car accident can leave you with a long recovery process, which can leave you unable to work and with mounting medical bills. If you believe that your injuries were the result of another driver’s negligence, it is then critical that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney at AttorneyJeff as soon as possible.
You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering if another driver is deemed at fault for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help determine if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Feel free to contact our attorneys online to learn more about how to claim compensation for your injuries if you suffered from a collapsed lung.
Collapsed Lung Injury FAQs
What are the risk factors for a collapsed lung?
While anyone can suffer from a collapsed lung after a car accident, men between the ages of 20-40 are the most likely to sustain this kind of injury. Additionally, anyone who smokes or has suffered a collapsed lung in the past is at a higher risk.
What are the possible complications of a collapsed lung?
When promptly treated, the lung will re-expand and heal over time without causing long-term health effects. In some cases, secondary infections and long-term breathing difficulties may occur. Additionally, there is a risk of sustaining another collapsed lung in the months following the injury.