Page Updated: August 3, 2021


Chest and Rib Injury Settlements


rib injury claimsAre you having chest pain after a a wreck?

Did a seat belt bruise your chest after an accident?

Will a fractured rib that heals cause permanent pain?

These are common questions we get from injury victims like you.  In this article, we will help you make sense of your chest injuries and teach about:

♦   Settlements in chest injury cases

♦   Common chest injuries

♦   Symptoms for different chest injuries

 ♦   Maximizing your chest injury settlement

If, after reading this article, you still have questions about your chest injury accident, the team at Injury Advocates Group is always here to help you navigate this difficult time, and is just a phone call away.

 


Chest Injury Symptoms & Concerns


It can be very easy after an accident to downplay your pain and symptoms. You may be tempted to think you are overreacting or that your injuries are not that serious.

For your own well-being and safety, do not ignore even what seems like minor chest pains or that feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something may be wrong, especially if you have any of the below symptoms.

Symptoms to Look Out For

When you have suffered a chest or rib injury, some of the symptoms that you should keep an eye out for and get medical treatment for are:

  Pain in your chest when reaching with your arms

   Pain when taking a breath or any difficulty breathing

   Pain in your upper abdomen

   Sensitivity or tenderness in your ribs

   Coughing up blood

Minor Chest Pains Can Be Serious

Consider, for example, a sore upper chest.  You think it’s just a sore muscle from the seat belt.  However, it could be a fractured collarbone.

If you treat the symptom as not-serious, and the bone does not heal properly, you could get LESS money in your settlement because you failed to “mitigate your damages.”

“Mitigate your damages” means you took every reasonable medical step to ensure your damages and injuries had as little a negative impact on you as possible.

Yes, you have an obligation to do that.  You cannot sit back, suffer the injuries, and collect a check for what was done to you.

You have a legal obligation to mitigate your damages and medical care.  If you do not, the insurance company has a valid, legal argument, to say you should get a lot less money, if any at all.

Now that you know this, go see a doctor!!

Symptoms of Major Chest Injury

Symptoms like having difficulty moving or not being able to breathe normally are serious symptoms and need immediate attention.

If you have a hard time speaking, that is a sign of potentially life-threatening damage that needs immediate help.

If you do not have health insurance, call our office.  We help all our clients connect with doctors who will provide medical care without a penny due at time of treatment, and who will wait for the case to resolve to be paid back for that medical care.  Call our office to learn more about how this works.


Common Chest and Rib Injuries


Ruptured Aorta

The largest artery in your body is called the aorta and it runs through your heart, chest and into your abdomen.

A rupture of the aorta can come from intense trauma to the chest and can be a life-threatening injury that needs immediate help.

Signs you may have a ruptured aorta include:

   Trouble breathing

   Shortness of breath

   Trouble swallowing

   Intense chest and/ or back pain

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $215,000.  A teenager suffered a ruptured aorta in a car accident with an underinsured defendant.  This was a Pennsylvania case.  The teenager had other injuries, but the ruptured aorta was his most significant injury.

Ruptured Heart

An injury sustained in a car accident can be so intense and severe that it can actually lead to your heart becoming ruptured as well.

This is also a serious condition that can lead to death and needs immediate medical attention that cannot wait.

Bilateral Lung Contusions

Chest trauma sustained in a car accident can cause you to have painful and serious bruising of the lungs. This is called a lung contusion.  A bilateral lung contusion means both lungs are injured in this way.

This injury can cause blood and other fluids to get into the lungs and can cause hypoxia (insufficient oxygen to the lungs) which can be serious and requires extensive medical treatment.

Symptoms to look out for include:

   Shallow breathing

   Wheezing

   Clammy skin

   Lowered blood pressure

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $1,000,000.  The plaintiff was in a car with his kids when the defendant ran a red light into the plaintiff’s car.  However, this was a disputed liability case where both drivers claimed they had the green light.  The medical bills alone were over $300,000.  The plaintiff had several injuries, including fractures, and also had a lung contusion.  This was a Florida accident.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $50,000.  A kid, a pedestrian, was run over by the defendant while walking to school.  The child had a lung contusion amongst other injuries, to include a fractured rib.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $147,000.  A passenger was injured when a defendant driver failed to yield the right of way, causing an accident.  This was an uninsured motorist lawsuit.  The passenger-plaintiff suffered a lung contusion, clavicle fracture, and femur fracture.  This was a Kansas accident case.

Lung Lacerations

When the injury in an accident to your lungs causes there to be tears in the organ, this can cause blood, air and other fluids to fill the lung leading to a serious condition.

Signs of this can be in shortness of breath, low energy and coughing.

These are commonly referred to as lacerations of the lung, or lung lacerations.

Soft-tissue Damage

The chest has a number of muscles and tendons that can all become damaged as a result of an impact and trauma in a car accident.

Signs that you may have soft tissue damage due to a car accident include:

   Breathing difficulty

   Pain and strain in your muscles

While compared to some other injuries in a car accident, soft-tissue damage may sound like a non-serious injury, this is not true.  These injuries can be permanent and be the cause of constant chronic pain that lasts a lifetime.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $50,000. Our team has squeezed a $50,000 settlement offer out of insurance companies for permanent soft tissue chest injuries related to a car accident.  The client suffered a non-displaced broken rib injury that healed fairly quickly without issue.  However, there was residual soft tissue injury in the chest with supporting evidence that those symptoms would be permanent.

Fractured Clavicle

There is sometimes the question of ‘what is a fractured clavicle?’ You may not be certain what bone this is.  For your benefit, we will illustrate it here, in red:

clavicle injury

The clavicle is in essence your collarbone.  Injuries to the clavicle are intensely painful, reduce your quality of life, and for all these reasons, increase your settlement recovery.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $147,000.  A passenger was injured when a defendant driver failed to yield the right of way, causing an accident.  This was an uninsured motorist lawsuit.  The passenger-plaintiff suffered a lung contusion, clavicle fracture, and femur fracture.  This was a Kansas accident case. In reading the full summary of this case, I would expect this case to be worth closer to $250,000.  This is in part because passenger-plaintiff’s tend to get more than driver plaintiffs.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $97,958.  In this Michigan car accident, a passenger suffered a clavicle fracture, rib fracture, and closed head injury.  Liability was denied, and this likely had an impact on the compromised value of the claim. 

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $1,006,615.  This was a very complicated case with over half a dozen expert witnesses.  The case had an additional layer of complication due to a dispute about whether there was insurance coverage.  The plaintiff overcame those hurdles with the help of a lawyer and recovered well for fractures to her pelvis, clavicle, spine, and ribs.  She also had one of her legs amputated.  I could not locate a description for the accident, but I imagine it was pretty gruesome with these injuries, which explains the $1 Million dollar result.

SAMPLE VERDICT: $0.00.  It’s important to include some of these $0 results – you can lose your case if you go to trial, it’s a reality you must accept if you roll those dice. This plaintiff was rear-ended and suffered a fractured clavicle and some head injuries.  The rear-ending vehicle apparently ran off, so it was a hit-and-run.  Based on the $0 result, it sounds like the jury didn’t buy the plaintiff’s version of how the accident happened, and gave no sympathy for these terrible injuries.

Fractured Sternum

If you have pain in your shoulders or sense pain in your ribs you can have a broken sternum from your car accident. The sternum is shown below:

sternum injury

The sternum is a bone also known as your breastbone that runs up and down the front of the chest.

Like the clavicle settlement, a broken sternum car accident settlement will be tied heavily to your pain and limitations placed on your daily life.  This makes it important to document these damages with your attorneys help.

SAMPLE VERDICT: $297,889.  Impressively, $225,000 of this verdict is for pain and suffering. The plaintiff was hit head on by an uninusred defendant, so he sued his own insurance company for uninsured coverage.  He suffered A cracked sternum, fractured ribs, and a femur fracture.  This accident happened in Minnesota.

SAMPLE VERDICT: $0.00.  The plaintiff suffered a fractured sternum, amongst several other injuries in this vehicle accident. The verdict is a bit deceiving, because the plaintiff got $125,000 in pre-trial settlement money through a unique scenario.  Regardless, it speaks to the fact that the case had real value.  The bad verdict boiled down to a liability dispute related to a phantom vehicle.  This case highlights how important a clean liability story is to the value of your case.  It’s not about whether you think your liability story is air tight, it’s about whether facts exist which can suggest otherwise. 

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $250,000.  The plaintiff was a passenger in her husband’s car.  Her husband rear-ended someone, causing his wife, the plaintiff, to suffer a fractured sternum and ribs, which killed her.  This was a wrongful death case on behalf of the plaintiff’s estate against her surviving husband – a very weird scenario.  The $250,000 settlement almost certainly means that was the amount of the policy limits in the case.  Lucky for the plaintiff that the case settled, because this would be a difficult pill to swallow for a jury – they would be awarding money that would likely end up in the hands of the person who killed the plaintiff, the husband who caused the rear-end accident.

Other Skeletal Chest Injuries

Other chest injuries to your skeletal system are:

   Broken ribs

   Fractured ribs

   Bruised ribs (bruising from a seat belt after an accident is common).

  Flail chest (the chest becoming concave due to multiple broken ribs. This is a serious and life-threatening condition.  Compensation for broken ribs in car accidents increases when there are multiple broken ribs causing conditions like this.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $50,000.  A kid, a pedestrian, was run over by the defendant while walking to school.  The child had a lung contusion amongst other injuries, to include a fractured rib.

SAMPLE VERDICT: $297,889.  Impressively, $225,000 of this verdict is for pain and suffering. The plaintiff was hit head on by an uninusred defendant, so he sued his own insurance company for uninsured coverage.  He suffered A cracked sternum, fractured ribs, and a femur fracture.  This accident happened in Minnesota.

SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $250,000.  The plaintiff was a passenger in her husband’s car.  Her husband rear-ended someone, causing his wife, the plaintiff, to suffer a fractured sternum and ribs, which killed her.  This was a wrongful death case on behalf of the plaintiff’s estate against her surviving husband – a very weird scenario.  The $250,000 settlement almost certainly means that was the amount of the policy limits in the case.  Lucky for the plaintiff that the case settled, because this would be a difficult pill to swallow for a jury – they would be awarding money that would likely end up in the hands of the person who killed the plaintiff, the husband who caused the rear-end accident.


Chest and Rib Damage from Seat Belts


Chest injuries and symptoms are common parts of the impact of a car accident directly caused by seat belts. In fact, seat belt bruises after an accident are one of the more common chest injuries caused by an accident.

A car accident seat belt chest injury can include damage to the bones, the skin as well as the breasts of individuals.  Some of these are discussed below.

Serious Seat Belt Injuriesseat belt induced chest injuries

Some seat belt injuries include:

   Ruptured heart

   Lung lacerations and contusions

   Ruptured aorta

   Soft-tissue damage

Breast Damage

Breast damage due to the safety belt in a car accident is a serious injury that can cause substantial pain and long-term complications that will necessitate medical help.

Some of these include:

   Lipid cysts

  Contusions

   Tears

   Calcification in the breast tissue

VERDICT: $8,500.  A female plaintiff was rear-ended, pushed forward, and struck another car head on as a result.  She also claimed to suffer a seat belt injury which caused a shift in her breast implant, and said that it would require surgery to repair.  As you can tell by the verdict, the jury was not sympathetic to this argument.  I have read jury psychology literature on this topic, and this verdict confirms it.  Jury’s are not kind to certain injuries, and cosmetic breast and nose injuries are two of them.  In reading the full summary of this case, there may have been some opportunities for a better result here, but it’s difficult to say without the full context of what happened behind closed doors in building up the case for trial.

Are Seat Belt Injuries Worth Large Settlements?

Yes, injuries caused to the chest because of a seat belt can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. One of the lawyers on our team recovered over $45,000 for a seat belt injury in a case where there were serious questions about the validity of medical treatment provided. You can see more of our lawyers’ results on our verdict and settlement page.


Chest & Rib Injury Treatments


Chest injuries have an array of treatments that can be either intensive or non-intensive. Some treatments can be done at home and with the care of a regular doctor with in-office visits. These can include therapies such as:

   Adding heat to affected areas

   Adding ice compresses to affected areas

   Immobilization

   Painkillers and muscle relaxers

Other treatments can be more serious and include the need for more intensive and frequent contact with doctors, hospitals and physical therapists. These treatments can include:

   Surgery

   Massage Therapy

   Physical Therapy

   Ultrasound therapy

   Life Support

Generally, the more treatment you get, the larger your settlement will be because more treatment results in greater economic damages; i.e., medical bills.

HOWEVER, I would not place a direct and consistent correlation on that, at least not for savvy lawyers.  A lawyer on our team recently recovered a $200,000 settlement where the medical bills were only approximately $25,000.

To better understand what drives these values, read our page about calculating your case worth.


Chest Injury Recovery Outlooks


Medical recovery from a chest injury will depend on the extent and type of injury you have.

Will my injury take a long time to heal?

Common recovery times for chest injuries can last from a few weeks of home recovery related to injured ribs to a few months in a bed, immobilized with restricted movement for fractured ribs that caused a punctured lung.

Sternum pain can last months after a car accident.

Chest injuries, and especially rib injuries, require extensive orthopedic follow-up to ensure the injury heals properly.  It is not uncommon to see an orthopedic specialist once every two weeks for three months while simultaneously being treated by a physical therapist.

This kind of monitoring and regular medical exams can negatively impact your life and keep you from work and other activities.

Fractured sternum compensation therefore should take this disruption of life into consideration when it comes time to discuss settlement numbers.

Potential for Permanent Damage

Some injuries are severe enough to require lifelong treatment plans.

For example, many healed broken ribs leave residual cartilage damage or scar tissue around the healed bone, and can mean chest pain for the rest of your life.  We have helped clients with these symptoms, and know for a fact these injuries are terrible for you.

Make sure your lawyer appreciates the severity of these injuries.  If they do not, they will likely undervalue your pain and suffering, which means they will undervalue your case, and you will not get the best settlement possible.


What Chest Injury Damages Can I get Money For?


If you are looking for settlement examples, those results are sprinkled throughout the article in the medical topics section of the page, next to each injury type.   Scroll back above to the sub-topic for your injury to see those examples, or click here to jump to the top of that section.

The Chest and Rib Injury Q&A section below also has information on settlement averages, so you should check out that section, too.

Below is general settlement and damages recovery information.

Recoverable Damages

In a chest injury case you can get financial recovery for your medical costs, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering costs.

Never Settle for Just Medical Bills

This is why you should never settle for just your medical treatment costs.  This is difficult advice to follow, because when an injured victim calls an insurance adjuster to self-settle a case, the adjuster smells blood in the water and has no reason to make a real offer.

Think about it, what will you do if the adjuster makes a bad offer?  You certainly aren’t filing a lawsuit on your own.  That’s the legal equivalent of performing surgery on yourself.  If you do that, no attorney will touch your case because cleaning up that case will be impossible, too much irreversible harm will have been done.

You have no leverage in these circumstances, which is why it is much harder to settle certain cases by yourself for a fair value.  Most chest and rib injuries fall into this category of difficult to self-settle cases.

Chest Injuries Deserve High Pain & Suffering Settlements

In the case of clavicle fracture injury, you will miss days or weeks of work and time out of your life.  You should fight for a fair pain and suffering recovery for these losses.

The same can be said about fractured sternum compensation, which should take into account the pain you will have in breathing and moving with a fractured sternum.

Thus, your lawyer should advocate to get you money for every component of pain and suffering possible, including:

   Anxiety

   depression

   Emotional distress

   Chronic life-long pain

   Limitations in life activities

At Injury Advocates Group, we created a 100+ point checklist for our clients to help flush out all the ways your life was negatively impacted because of the accident.  With a list like that, we ensure that no money is left on the table and your recovery is maximized.


Chest Injury Case Settlement Averages


Why are chest injury cases worth more?

Chest injuries often involve damage to sensitive muscles and bones.

If you injure your lower back, you can sit more, stand less, and rest, to avoid using your lower back.  That will lower your lower back pain.

What if you injured your chest?  Every breath will force you to use your chest, as it expands and contracts with your breathing.  Unless you hold your breath for 3 months of recovery, you cannot avoid the pain.

For this reason, chest injuries are intrinsically worth more than many other common injuries.

What does this mean for my chest injury case?

It means that if you have chest pain after a wreck, and especially if you have broken ribs from a car accident, you should get more money for your case.

But your lawyer must make sure that you do not settle cheap with the insurance company.

If you have, for example, a fractured sternum compensation package offered to you right after your accident, you should take time to consider the amount and whether it is just covering your medical treatment costs or your entire set of recoverable damages.

A medical-bill-only settlement might have you break even, whereas a complete settlement, with a proper pain and suffering amount, should help you net a respectable take home amount from resolving the claim.


Increasing Your Settlement Value


You can take steps to increase your chest injury settlement value:

   See a doctor and get medical assistance ASAP.  If you wait to see how bad it is, the insurance company can reduce your settlement based on that delayed treatment.

   Advocate for CT scan of your chest, even if the initial doctor is avoiding that exam.  We have had cases where rib injuries were not well visualized in x-rays, but showed up in CT scans.

   Do not engage in intense physical activities for at least a month.

    See an orthopedic doctor immediately, BEFORE you begin any physical therapy.  Getting PT on your chest with potential broken ribs is a horrible idea.  You won’t do that on purpose, but it can happen if you are not proactive in pushing for an orthopedic evaluation.  Take charge of your treatment, and make sure you are well taken care of.

These steps can help you get above average settlement amounts.

With the help of an advocate by your side, you can also track and record your pain and suffering damages in a way that will allow you to maximize your symptoms for settlement recovery.  Make sure to speak with your attorney about doing this.


Chest and Rib Injury Q&A


Why does my chest hurt after my accident?

Often in an accident, a number of things can apply force your chest and you may not realize it right away. Your chest may hurt for a number of reasons including the effect the seat belt, your chest hitting the steering wheel, or a number of medical reasons including sore ribs or even a punctured lung.

Can my seat belt hurt me in an accident?

Yes, while your seat belt can save your life and your loved ones in an accident, it can also cause damage and injury to your body, including to your chest and ribs.

What kinds of injuries can I get to my chest and ribs?

You may have bruising of your ribs, as well as fractures and damage to your muscles and even broken bones.

How can I tell if my chest injury is serious?

To assess how serious your injury is, you need to go to a doctor or emergency room to get the proper exams and tests to be able to see what may be happening inside of your body as many chest and rib injuries will not in any way be visible to the naked eye.

How much can I get for my rib or chest injury?

Cases involving rib or chest injuries will have a very wide range, more so than other common injuries.  The fairest estimate is a settlement range between $10,000 to $110,000.

The range so broad because the injuries are very polarized. A fractured rib case can result in a $25,000 settlement or a $250,00 settlement and neither result would be unusual.  Also, many chest and rib injuries are soft tissue injuries which heal after a few months, and those cases will be worth less than $25,000, which will bring down the average range.


Get Help With Your Car Accident Chest Injury Claims
With Our Los Angeles Attorneys


We are hopeful this article answered all of your chest injury car accident questions.  If it did not, call, email, or submit the contact form below to speak with one of our attorneys right now.

Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are on standby to help you get the justice you deserve.  Our goal is to help every accident victim receive the largest recovery possible, and to hold bad drivers accountable.  We welcome the opportunity to accomplish these goals for you.

Lawyer Experienced in Herniated Disc Injuries & Steroid Injection Settlements

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Chien, C. Y., Chen, Y. H., Han, S. T., Blaney, G. N., Huang, T. S., & Chen, K. F. (2017). The number of displaced rib fractures is more predictive for complications in chest trauma patients. Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine25(1), 1-10.

Kitagawa, Y., & Yasuki, T. (2013, September). Correlation among seatbelt load, chest deflection, rib fracture and internal organ strain in frontal collisions with human body finite element models. In Proceedings of IRCOBI Conference (pp. 282-316).

Kitagawa, Y., Hayashi, S., Yamada, K., & Gotoh, M. (2017). Occupant kinematics in simulated autonomous driving vehicle collisions: influence of seating position, direction and angle (No. 2017-22-0005). SAE Technical Paper.

Liebsch, C., Seiffert, T., Vlcek, M., Beer, M., Huber-Lang, M., & Wilke, H. J. (2019). Patterns of serial rib fractures after blunt chest trauma: An analysis of 380 casesPloS one14(12), e0224105.

Morimoto, Y., Sugimoto, T., Sakahira, H., Matsuoka, H., Yoshioka, Y., & Arase, H. (2014). Successful management of threatened aortic rupture late after rib fracture caused by blunt chest trauma. Annals of vascular surgery28(4), 1035-e11.

DiPiro, P. J., Meyer, J. E., Frenna, T. H., & Denison, C. M. (1995). Seat belt injuries of the breast: findings on mammography and sonography. AJR. American journal of roentgenology164(2), 317-320.

About the Author

Article Author:  This law article was written by attorney Ray Benyamin, Esquire.  Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California.  His law license number is 277263.  He has been practicing law for 10 years.  Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  Mr. Benyamin has personally helped his clients recover over $10,000,000 in vehicle accident insurance claims in the State of California.

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