Fractured sternums can occur after you’ve been in a car accident. Your sternum, also known as your breastbone, is in the front of your ribcage and chest, and it is responsible for keeping your heart, lungs, and other internal organs safe.
Although fractured sternums only happen in around 3-7% of car crashes, because your breastbone protects so many important parts of your body, if yours is fractured, it could be a sign of more serious injury. The mortality rate of people with sternum fractures is as high as 45%, meaning that you should take this type of injury seriously.
Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment for a Fractured Sternum
One of the main symptoms of a fractured sternum is pain, especially when you are taking a deep breath. You might also feel pain or discomfort when you move your arms, and you may have bruising, pain, or tenderness around the break.
Fractured sternums are typically diagnosed in the emergency room by taking an x-ray or CT scan. You may also have an MRI or other tests to look for other internal injuries to your heart or lungs that could be more life-threatening.
Most fractured sternums can heal with no outside intervention, but occasionally surgery will be required to set the bone in place. Your doctor may also advise you to ice the wound to prevent swelling, and give you medicine to help control the pain.
Most people suffering from a fractured sternum are able to heal within 2-3 months, although you may have chest pain during this time. You may also have soreness or stiffness in your back, chest, and arm muscles, which might require physical therapy. It’s likely that you won’t need a cast or brace during recovery.
It’s important to breathe and cough normally so that the airway to your lungs will stay clear and you will avoid any lung infections. If you have been injured and are in recovery, it’s important to take care of your health and follow your doctor’s recommended care.
Avoiding Fractured Sternums
Fractured sternums can happen in car crashes when the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and their chest hits the steering wheel, or if the front-seat passenger hits the dashboard. This type of injury can also happen if a passenger isn’t wearing the lap portion of an across-the-shoulders seatbelt.
You can protect yourself from these injuries by wearing your seatbelt any time you get into a car, which is a requirement under California law. You should also always practice safe, defensive driving techniques to avoid car accidents, even if another driver would be at fault.
Legal Remedies for Fractured Sternums
People suffering from fractured sternums may be able to recover monetary damages, even if they were partially to blame for a car accident. California follows a comparative negligence theory of personal injury law. Under this theory, your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault you contributed to the accident.
You can seek compensation for economic damages, which can include:
- Medical bills, including bills for diagnostic tests like an x-ray or CT scan, as well as the costs for prescription and over the counter medication,
- Time spent away from work recovering from the car crash, and
- Reimbursement for personal property, including your car, that needed to be repaired or replaced after the accident.
Additionally, you can ask for money that would compensate you for emotional distress or pain and suffering you endured while healing from your fractured sternum.
You should wait to settle any personal injury case until after you’ve completed treatment, so you can recover all your medical costs. Occasionally, injuries like fractured sternums can come with long recovery periods or even later complications, such as lung infections that aren’t immediately apparent at the outset of a case.
If you need help recovering expenses associated with your fractured sternum injury, consider working with a qualified legal team. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Freeman & Freeman have proudly served Northern California for more than 50 years. For assistance in recovering the compensation you deserve, please contact us at 705-575-7141 today