Beyond Broken Bones: How Auto Accidents Cause Internal Injuries

In the aftermath of a North Carolina auto accident, it’s often easy to determine who has been hurt. The pain of fractured bones and joint injuries call attention to themselves; open wounds leak blood. In contrast, soft tissue damage and internal injuries may present no immediate symptoms. These injuries can be overlooked in the initial assessment of damage after a Wilmington car accident or truck accident on I-40. The injury can worsen for hours until a medical crisis occurs—one that can prove fatal to the injury victim.

If you remember only two facts from this survey of accident-related internal injuries, make sure you recall these points about the period right after a New Hanover County roadway wreck:

  • Internal injuries hide their symptoms. Internal organs are not hooked up to the part of the nervous system that communicates pain signals. As a result, people with internal organ damage may feel fine, or have a nonspecific complaint that they “don’t feel quite well.” In the phenomenon called referred pain, a damaged internal organ may lead to complaints of pain in a distant part of the body; a common example is pain in the upper arm that indicates a heart injury, rather than pain in the chest.
  • The symptoms of internal injuries can be slow to develop. Many of these injuries involve internal bleeding, which may proceed for hours or even a few days before the victim goes into shock from blood loss. During this time, the victim’s physical condition will degrade, but the change from hour to hour may be too subtle to recognize easily.

Common Internal Organ Injuries

Among the most frequent—and most dangerous—soft tissue and internal organ injuries after a North Carolina accident are:

  • Punctured lung. A broken rib can pierce a lung, or a blow to the chest can bruise lung tissue and cause clots that eventually can cause pulmonary embolism, or travel to the heart or brain and cause an infarction.
  • Ruptured spleen. The spleen is located in the upper left of the abdomen. It plays an important role in recycling red blood cells, so it has a major connection to the circulatory system. A sudden injury or trauma to the abdomen can cause the spleen to burst, leading quickly to a crisis of internal bleeding.
  • Vascular system damage. Internal bruising from a North Carolina auto accident can cause blood clots and blockage of blood vessels, or create a fistula that allows blood flow between the arteries and veins; or trigger an artery dissection or aneurysm, in which the walls of an artery fall apart to fill a body cavity with blood.
  • Liver damage. The liver is located just under the diaphragm in the upper abdomen. A forceful blow to the center of the body can cause the liver to split and bleed. The liver is a vital organ; there is no medical device or treatment that will compensate for the long-term loss of liver function.
  • Kidney failure. The human body has two kidneys, which are positioned at the rear of the abdominal cavity. They play a vital role in filtering impurities from the blood and concentrating urine. Trauma in an auto accident, especially in the lower back, sometimes can cause the kidneys to shut down.

Act Quickly After Your North Carolina Truck Accident or Car Wreck

Almost any internal injury can prove fatal. In the wake of a North Carolina auto accident, it is vital that every person involved receive a medical examination, ideally in a hospital emergency room as soon as possible after the incident. Even if no injuries are found in this assessment, each crash victim should take the time to write down any symptoms that develop over the next few days, both for medical reasons and for a legal record in case of a lawsuit. It should go without saying that crash victims should follow the advice of their physicians precisely.

If you have been involved in a New Hanover Country roadway wreck caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be owed compensation for your injuries, disability, lost work income, and other losses. At Speaks Law Firm, our North Carolina auto accident lawyers are standing by to answer your questions about your rights to a financial recovery. You can reach Speaks Law Firm today by calling 980-237-6948 (or 877-593-4233 toll-free) to schedule your free legal consultation. Just for making the call, we’d like to send you a FREE copy of our law firm book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.