What if You Suffered Broken Ribs in a New Jersey Car Crash?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on January 18, 2024  in Car Accident News. Updated on February 12, 2024

doctors reviewing chest x-rayIf you get hit in the chest during a car crash, the force of the blow could be strong enough to bruise or even break your ribs. These types of injuries are not only painful, but they can also be life-threatening if they are not treated quickly.

This blog post explains the ways car crashes could cause broken ribs, the dangers of this type of injury and the options for treatment that may be available. We also discuss when you may be eligible to seek compensation for damages.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we understand the physical and emotional toll these injuries can take. Our New Jersey auto accident lawyers are dedicated to securing full compensation for all damages victims have suffered, and there are no upfront costs with our services.

Give us a call today to learn more about how we may be able to help:
(800) 518-0508.

How a Collision Can Cause Broken Ribs

Car crashes are violent, sudden events that subject the human body to extreme forces, often resulting in severe injuries like broken ribs. There are three main ways the forces generated by a crash could break someone’s ribs:

Direct Impact

During impact, vehicle occupants can be thrown against various parts of the vehicle’s interior, such as the steering wheel, dashboard or door. The ribs are particularly vulnerable to breaking from these kinds of direct impacts. The force exerted upon the chest area can easily fracture ribs, especially in high-speed collisions or when the impact is directly to the chest.


This happens when the body is squeezed between two objects, such as the seat belt and the spine. The compression can cause the ribs to crack or break, particularly if the force is concentrated over a small area.

Although seat belts save thousands of lives each year and lower the risk of significant injury, they can sometimes exert enough pressure on the ribcage during a crash to cause fractures.


Deceleration injuries occur when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, but vehicle occupants’ bodies continue to move forward due to inertia. This rapid deceleration can cause the ribs to bend and flex beyond their capacity, leading to fractures. Your internal organs can also exert pressure against your ribcage from the inside, increasing the risk of rib fractures.

Medical professionals know all too well how vehicle occupants can suffer broken ribs in collisions. This knowledge helps them to diagnose and treat crash victims more quickly.

Signs You May Have Broken Ribs

If you experience any of the following symptoms after a crash, there is a good chance you have bruised or broken ribs:

  • Intense pain in your chest: The most immediate and noticeable symptom is sharp, severe pain in the chest, which may worsen with deep breaths, coughing, laughing or any movement that engages the rib cage. You may think small fractures will not hurt that much, but that is not true. Something as small as a hairline fracture can be significantly painful.
  • Tenderness and swelling in your chest: The area around the broken ribs may feel tender to the touch. There is also likely to be swelling or bruising, which may indicate trauma to the ribcage and surrounding tissues.
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing: Broken ribs can make breathing extremely painful. Victims often experience shallow breathing. If you are not getting enough oxygen, you may have more than the injury to worry about as it could also increase your risk of developing pneumonia.
  • Audible cracking or grating noise: In some cases, moving or touching the area where the ribs are broken may produce a cracking or grating sound, which could mean bone damage.

Prompt medical care is vital, as it can help prevent complications, such as punctured lungs or internal organ injuries. Proper diagnosis often involves physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays to confirm the extent of the injury and guide treatment.

Why Broken Ribs Can Be So Dangerous

One of the primary concerns with broken ribs is the potential for puncturing or damaging internal organs (lungs, heart, spleen, kidneys, liver). For example, the sharp ends of fractured rib bones can pierce the lungs, leading to pneumothorax (collapsed lung). They could also cause damage to the spleen, liver, or kidneys or cause internal bleeding. Crash victims with any of these injuries may require emergency surgery, which could lengthen and complicate the healing process.

Impaired breathing is another complication of broken ribs. Pain from the fractures often cause shallow breathing, as individuals avoid taking deep breaths to minimize their discomfort. However, this hinders proper lung functionality, increasing the risk of pneumonia or atelectasis (collapse of part of the lung). If victims do not receive prompt treatment, these conditions could become life-threatening.

Some crash victims suffer flail chest, which means multiple ribs were broken in a few places and a piece of bone broke away from your inner chest wall. This makes your ribcage weaker and is often thought of as the most severe rib injury.

Broken ribs can also lead to long-term health issues, such as chronic pain and decreased mobility. This is because the healing process can be slow, often taking six weeks or longer. During that time, there is a high risk of other complications. Inadequate healing or improperly aligned bones could leave victims with chronic pain, limited range of motion and decreased strength. These symptoms and conditions can all lower your quality of life.

Treatment Options for Broken Ribs

Doctors need to do imaging tests to accurately diagnose broken ribs. This often means X-rays, MRIs or CT scans.

Many who suffer broken ribs in a car crash do not need surgery to bring the bones back together. Many people just need rest and to limit their physical activity to allow the injury to heal properly. Doctors may also prescribe pain medication to help victims manage their discomfort. However, crash victims need a proper medical examination to know what damage they sustained and what treatment and plan of care to follow.

Following your doctor’s recommendations is critical to ensure a proper recovery. If you do not take it easy during healing, you may increase your risk for other complications.

Surgery is usually only necessary in severe cases, such as when the fractured ribs damaged your internal organs or caused one of your lungs to collapse. However, surgery may also be necessary with comminuted fractures, or when you have fractures in two or more places. Victims wtih this type of injury may not fully recover for a year or even longer.

Including Broken Ribs in a Car Accident Claim

When you sustain injuries such as broken ribs in a car accident, you may be eligible to seek compensation for medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. One of the advantages of living in New Jersey is that your medical care should be covered by your own auto insurance, regardless of fault. Your personal injury protection coverage may also extend to your lost wages.

However, when severe or catastrophic injuries occur, you may be able to step outside of the no-fault system to seek additional compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s policy.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the legal process to secure the compensation they deserve. We have extensive experience in building cases for car crash injuries. This includes things like:

  • Documenting the injury: Medical records are vital in proving the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life. We help victims ensure all medical visits, treatments and recommendations are thoroughly documented.
  • Calculating damages: Beyond medical expenses, we consider how the injury has affected your ability to work, your daily life and other long-term consequences.
  • Consulting experts: Experts can help us determine how the crash occurred and how it directly caused your injuries. Experts can also help us to determine how much a claim may be worth.

Lynch Law Firm, PC Is Here to Help Crash Victims Seek Compensation. Contact Us Today

Suffering broken ribs in a car crash can be a painful and frightening experience. However, with the right medical care and legal support, recovery and compensation are within reach.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are here to guide you through every step of the legal process. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in New Jersey, do not hesitate to reach out for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

Millions Recovered. Zero Upfront Costs to Victims. Contact us:
(800) 518-0508.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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