Injuries in vehicle collisions are far too common in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.44 million people suffered injury on our roadways in 2015. While these accidents cause various types of injuries, we are going to discuss one type you might not be thinking about: internal injuries.
What are internal injuries?
Internal injuries are those involving organs within the cavities of the body. Internal injuries can include:
- Kidney injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Spleen injuries
- Liver injuries
- Intracranial hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain or skull
- Hemothorax, bleeding in the lungs
- Vascular damage
- Hemopericardium, bleeding in the pericardial sac of the heart, can lead to cardiac tamponade (i.e., compression of the heart)
Are internal injuries serious?
Yes. Internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, are especially dangerous because there are often no visible signs. In many cases, the victim might not even feel pain.
If the bleeding is not from an obvious injury, the bleeding might go undetected for hours or even days. In some cases, the bleeding will stop on its own. If it does not, or if it is severe, surgery may be necessary.
What are the most serious types of internal bleeding from trauma?
Any type of internal bleeding is serious, but the following are often deadly:
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Vascular damage to the large blood vessels in the trunk area, including the aorta, the superior vena cava, and the inferior vena cava
- Abdominal bleeding or perforation of abdominal organs
How can internal injuries happen in an accident?
Internal injuries can result from motor vehicle accidents if a person suffers blunt or penetrating trauma.
Blunt trauma occurs when the victim hits something or is hit by something forcefully, e.g., chest hits the steering wheel, a motorcyclist hits the ground after an accident.
Penetrating force occurs when an object impales the person’s body.
How can I tell if I have internal injuries?
If most cases, you will be unable to determine that you have internal injuries. For this reason, you should visit the doctor after any type of accident regardless of how minor you believe it was.
Get medical care immediately, and if you did not receive medical treatment after your accident and you experience any of the following:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal rigidity
- Loss of consciousness
- Discoloration of the affected area
- Arm or shoulder pain
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Clammy skin
Treatments for Internal Bleeding
Severe internal bleeding can require emergency surgery, which often takes place minutes after the patient arrives at the emergency room. The most common types of emergency surgery for internal injuries include:
- Exploratory laparotomy: The surgeon cuts open the abdomen to explore the extent of the organ damage and to repair the damaged blood vessels.
- Thoracotomy: The surgeon cuts open the chest wall to find and repair bleeding around the heart or lungs.
- Craniotomy: The surgeon creates a hole in the skull to reduce pressure on the brain or remove blood or blood clots.
- Fasciotomy: A surgeon cuts into the fascia (e.g., tissue surrounding muscle or organ) to repair bleeding and relieve pressure.
What is the typical recovery time for internal injuries?
The level of recovery and the time required for recuperation will depend on the severity and location of the internal injury. Some people who have mild internal injuries will make a complete or nearly complete recovery in a short length of time. People with moderate or severe internal injuries will need a much greater length of time to recover, with some facing a lifetime of impairment.
Injuries that will likely need a longer recovery time include:
- Head injuries, which can have residual cognitive impairment, loss of vision or hearing, loss of motor control, loss of speech, and paralysis
- Injuries to the chest, which can cause permanent damage to the heart and lungs
- Injuries to vital abdominal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas
Any type of internal bleeding can cause various complications and leave a person unable to work for weeks, months, or indefinitely. This can leave an accident victim with no way to pay for medical bills or feed their family. Fortunately, you might have options.
If you suffered internal injuries from an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your accident-related costs.
However, injury claims are complex and require much time and effort. We do not want you putting in that time; we want you to be able to focus on the most important thing — recovering. So contact our Houston office and our car accident lawyers will manage your case for you, allowing you to mend and spend time with your family.
Call The Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C. today: 713-863-1515.
Before we meet, feel free to look through our Car Accident Guide to see if you are on the right track to recovering compensation.