I suffered abdominal trauma in a pedestrian accident. Can I recover damages?

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Abdominal trauma is a common injury in accidents involving force. Unfortunately, it's also a difficult condition to detect because there may be any of several internal organs involved and because symptoms don't always show up right away. But if abdominal trauma is not treated, it can become life-threatening.

If you're a pedestrian who is struck by a car, motorcycle, or even a bicycle, you could also suffer abdominal trauma, whether from the impact of the collision itself or being knocked to the pavement. If your accident occurred due to someone else's negligence, our Washington auto accident attorney explains, you might be able to recover damages to cover your treatment. pedestrian on crosswalk in Washington

What Is Abdominal Trauma?

Abdominal trauma refers to any injury to any of the organs in the abdominal cavity due to force—for example, the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, and/or pancreas. The abdominal cavity also houses other important structures like the aorta (the main blood vessel leading from the heart) and the kidneys. Any sudden impact to the abdomen can compress one or more of these organs, pushing them out of place or causing direct bruising, tearing, or internal bleeding.

Because the abdominal cavity is relatively small, even a minor injury to one of these organs can have serious consequences. When an organ is damaged, it may leak blood or other fluids into the abdomen. This can cause inflammation and swelling (known as peritonitis), which can lead to sepsis—a potentially life-threatening condition caused by infection. The particular danger with abdominal trauma is that the symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after an accident. For that reason, it's important to be seen by a medical professional immediately following a pedestrian wreck—not just to check for immediate injuries but also to monitor you for signs of trouble after the fact.

Possible Indicators of Abdominal Trauma

Since abdominal trauma can damage any of a number of organs, the symptoms of trauma can be wide and varied, as well. That being said, there are some common indicators that abdominal trauma has occurred. If you experience any of the following after a pedestrian accident, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Persistent or worsening pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling or bloating in the abdomen
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood in the stool or urine
  • Difficulty urinating or passing stool
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness

Detection and Treatment of Abdominal Trauma

If your physician suspects the possibility of abdominal trauma, they will likely order a CT scan or other imaging tests to check for internal bleeding, bruising, or organ damage. They may also order these tests as a pre-emptive measure in cases where you suffered a direct, severe blow to the abdomen—for example, in a pedestrian accident with a car. If abdominal trauma is found, you will likely be admitted to the hospital for treatment or observation. Treatment options for these types of internal injuries are basically limited to the following:

  • Monitoring you (to see if the wounds heal on their own or if you get worse)
  • Administering antibiotics to treat or ward off infection
  • Blood transfusions (if hemorrhaging is evident)
  • Surgery to repair or remove damaged organs or vessels

Who May Be Liable for Your Injuries

If you were hit by a car, bicycle, or motorcycle while walking normally on the sidewalk or crossing at a marked or unmarked intersection, the driver of the vehicle is likely liable for your injuries. Even if you were not in a crosswalk and did not have the right-of-way, drivers have a reasonable duty of care to watch out for pedestrians. If a driver didn't see you because they were speeding, texting, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent, they may be held responsible for damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, other parties might also be held liable—for example, the municipality where the accident occurred (if the accident was caused by a pothole or other hazard in the roadway) or the vehicle manufacturer (if a malfunction caused the driver to lose control).

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.