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Determining the Severity of Broken Ribs after a Car Accident

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Car accidents can result in many injuries, with broken ribs being one of the most common. These injuries can vary significantly in severity, impacting the victim’s pain levels, recovery time, and potential compensation in a personal injury claim.

In this blog post, we will see the effects of broken ribs, how the severity of the injury can impact settlement amounts, and the treatments available for these injuries.

Effects of Broken Ribs

The severity of broken rib injuries can range from minor to severe, with the potential for serious complications. Common effects of broken ribs include:

  1. Pain: The level of pain experienced by the victim depends on the number of ribs broken and the severity of the fractures. Pain from a car accident may be mild to severe and can worsen with movement, coughing, or deep breathing.
  2. Breathing Difficulties: Broken ribs can make it challenging to take deep breaths, potentially leading to shortness of breath and decreased oxygen intake.
  3. Pneumothorax: In some cases, broken ribs can puncture the lung, leading to a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). This is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
  4. Damage to Internal Organs: Severe rib fractures can damage internal organs, like the liver, spleen, or kidneys. This can result in internal bleeding and other serious complications.
  5. Infection: If a broken rib punctures the skin, there is a risk of infection, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Settlements for Broken Rib Injuries

The severity of a broken rib injury can significantly impact the settlement amount in a personal injury claim. Factors that may influence the settlement amount include:

  1. Medical Expenses: The cost of treating broken ribs can differ depending on the severity of the injury and any complications that arise. This may include the cost of emergency room visits, diagnostic tests, hospital stays, follow-up appointments, and physical therapy.
  2. Lost Wages: If victims cannot work due to their injury, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. The lost wages will depend on the victim’s salary and the time they need to recover.
  3. Punitive Damages: The court may award punitive and compensatory damages if the at-fault party’s actions were reckless or malicious. This is where an accidents lawyer can come in handy. While not common in broken rib cases, punitive damages may be awarded in extreme negligence cases, such as a car accident due to drunk driving.

Treatments for Broken Ribs

The treatment for broken ribs will depend on the severity of the injury and any associated complications. Common treatments for broken ribs include:

  1. Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be suggested to help manage pain. In more severe cases, prescription pain medications may be necessary.
  2. Rest: Rest is crucial for healing broken ribs. Patients should avoid activities that cause pain or pressure on the injured area, such as lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous exercise.
  3. Ice: Applying ice to the injured area can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Ice should be applied for 20-30 minutes several times daily.
  4. Compression: Wearing a compression bandage or wrap can help support and minimize movement of the injured ribs. However, ensuring the wrap is not too tight is essential as this can restrict breathing and cause further complications.
  5. Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help prevent pneumonia and other respiratory complications associated with broken ribs. Patients should practice taking slow, deep breaths several times a day.
  6. Surgery: In severe cases, which can include damage to internal organs, surgery may be necessary to repair the fractured ribs and address any complications.


Broken ribs can be a severe and painful injury requiring proper care and treatment to fully recover. By seeking immediate medical attention, following your healthcare provider’s recommendations for pain management, immobilization, rest, and if needed, surgery may be necessary to repair the ribs and address any underlying issues. To settle these issues, reaching out to an accidents lawyer would be your best option.

The Jehl Law Group is a highly experienced and reputable law firm specializing in cases related to nursing homes or elder abuse and neglect. With over 65 years of combined experience, our attorneys have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this critical area of law, serving clients in Memphis and multiple states, including Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. If you or someone you know requires the assistance of an accidents lawyer, contact us for expert guidance and the support you deserve.