Cycling is an economical, healthy, fun, and environmentally friendly way to get from place to place. However, sharing the road with large, motorized vehicles can be dangerous when drivers are unaware of bike laws, inattentive, or simply negligent. When a bicyclist and a much larger, heavier vehicle collide, the cyclist is the one who suffers the most.
One of the most common injuries for bikers is broken ribs—a painful and costly injury that frequently requires weeks or even months of recovery. Learn everything about this bike accident injury, from its symptoms to filing a claim for compensation, from an experienced Seattle bike accident attorney.
What Causes Broken Ribs?
Cyclists don’t have the benefit of being surrounded by protection like a metal frame, a seat belt, or an airbag. But they do have the natural protection of their ribcage: 12 pairs of curving ribs that evolved on many mammals to protect the precious vital organs of the body, including the heart and lungs. This cage does a fantastic job of shielding us from considerable bodily harm, but extreme force compromises even the strongest bones. In fact, traffic accidents are the leading cause of broken ribs.
In bike accidents, ribs break from three different forms of impact:
- Thrust of the rib cage against the handlebars
- Colliding with a vehicle
- Shock of hitting the ground
Ribs don’t simply break in two. The way these bones fracture varies depending on the force and angle of the impact or injury, resulting in:
- Simple fracture, when ribs crack but don’t completely break
- Comminuted fracture, which causes bones to shatter into multiple pieces
- Displacement, when the bones no longer align properly
- Hairline stress fractures, which aren’t always obvious but cause considerable pain
- Flail chest, a life-threatening condition that causes a portion of the rib cage to separate from the chest wall
Symptoms of Broken Ribs
The primary symptom of fractured ribs is sharp, immediate pain in the area. Individuals who suffer these injuries are also unable to take deep breaths without acute pain. Broken ribs can also cause swelling and bruising in the damaged area.
What to Do If You Break a Rib In a Bike Crash
If you’re involved in a Seattle bike accident with a reckless motorist and suffer injuries such as broken ribs, take the following actions.
Seek Medical Assistance
It isn’t brave or tough to turn down medical care at the scene of an accident. In fact, it may harm your health and put your rights at risk. Get examined at the scene and at the hospital—and remember that the shock of the accident may be masking much of your pain.
Collect Witness Information and Evidence
Any evidence you’re able to gather after a bike accident is essential. Did other people along the road see the accident? Getting their contact information could help your case significantly. Also, if you’re able to, snap photos to document the scene. They’ll help strengthen your case by showing what really happened.
Don’t Make Statements About Your Health
It can be tempting to shake it off or even to make the motorist feel less guilty by saying you’re not badly hurt. But these statements could give people the wrong idea of how the crash affected you. The best thing is to not say much at all.
Treatment for Broken Ribs
The type of rib fracture and its severity greatly influences the treatment approach and the time it takes to heal. During your medical exam, a physician uses X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to determine the nature of your condition and the damage to your rib cage.
Simple rib fractures often heal over the course of six weeks. A health care provider often recommends plenty of rest and avoiding strenuous activities, including lifting heavy objects. Many individuals are outfitted with a brace, wrap, or belt to support their rib cage and help limit movement, and might wear this device for several weeks during recovery.
Some people require medication to ease the pain of breathing. Patients with broken ribs might also need physical therapy to learn to breathe deeply and normally after their accident.
Complications of Broken Ribs
Broken ribs—especially multiple fractures—cause patients to breathe shallowly, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. This increases the chances of pneumonia, an infection of the lungs that can be dangerous or even deadly.
If a cyclist suffers severe blunt force trauma to the chest after being struck by a vehicle, it’s possible fractured ribs could puncture organs. More complex fractures, such as flail chest or displaced fractures, may require additional medical interventions, including surgery to realign and stabilize the ribs.
How Max Meyers Law Helps You After a Broken Rib Injury
Unfortunately, the diagnosis and treatment of broken ribs can be costly, and the healing time that broken ribs require can mean days, weeks, or months of lost wages as you slowly coalesce in bed while on pain medication. Additionally, cyclists often experience other issues due to the blunt force trauma of a collision, such as soft tissue damage, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
If you suffer any type of injury in a bike accident that wasn’t your fault, you have a right to file a claim against the negligent motorist. At Max Meyers Law, we help you identify the possibilities for compensation to cover economic and non-economic damages including, but not limited to:
- Past and future medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Lost wages and income