Car Crashes and Crush Injuries
I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer. The classifications of injuries that people can sustain in a car crash are wide and varied. Sometimes, people can get pinned in their vehicle and sustain a crush injury. It is important to manage these injuries appropriately because they can have dire consequences.
A crush injury is a severe traumatic injury that occurs when an object of heavy mass compresses part of the body that can lead to the degradation and breakdown of muscle tissues. For example, someone could have a crush injury of the leg, often accompanied by bone fractures such as femur fractures, that leads to the death of some of the muscle surrounding the femur. When this muscle tissue dies, it releases the contents of its cells. As its cells burst, the sodium, potassium, and chloride inside the cells get released into the bloodstream. The muscle fibers rupture as well, releasing myoglobin into the bloodstream. As these contents travel throughout the blood, they start to cause problems. The excess potassium can have impacts on the heart. The myoglobin can begin to clot in the blood vessels. It is also toxic to the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure. The pH of the blood can start to drop, leading to an acidotic state. Severe crush injuries can halt the flow of blood, trapping toxins in the blood and, possibly, leading to wrongful death.
How Does This Injury Happen?
There are several different ways crush injuries can occur. Some of the common examples include:
Collapsed Buildings: Sometimes buildings are built in an unstable manner and can collapse without warning, trapping people inside. Other times, an earthquake can occur, leading to multiple buildings that could collapse all at once. As these heavy structures fall, they trap their occupants inside. They often compress people under roofing and flooring materials, causing crush injuries.
Auto Accidents: Impacts on the driver or passenger doors can trap people inside. For example, if someone is driving and the driver’s door is impacted by another vehicle, his or her leg can be trapped in between the front of the car, simultaneously preventing the door from being opened. This can lead to a crush injury, notably if the leg cannot be released for a significant amount of time.
Management of Crush Injuries
A team of medical professionals put together a helpful review on the management of crush injuries to avoid some of the severe complications that can result. Some of the important management points include:
Fluids First: One of the most significant problems with crush injuries comes from the electrolyte issues that occur as all of the contents of the cells are released. IV fluids can help not only replace some of the blood that was lost but can also help correct a large number of the electrolyte abnormalities that develop. The quicker these fluids get inside, the better the patient outcome will be.
Cardiac Problems: While all of this is happening, it is vital to monitor the patient’s cardiac status. Over time, the patient’s cardiac condition can change due to fluid and electrolyte changes. If someone has a cardiac contusion, this is an even bigger problem. It’s important to keep an eye on the individual’s heart and correct any arrhythmias that develop.
Compartment Syndrome: As the body responds to the injury, the individual’s extremities will start to swell, leading to compartment syndrome. This is a severe complication that can lead to the compression of vital nerves and arteries, including tissue death. Compartment syndrome often manifests with tingling, pain, and paralysis and could require emergent surgical intervention. Rapid intervention can prevent this from happening.
Watch YouTube Video: Car Crash Injury Patient Story. This moving video tells the story of a car accident victim who suffered serious crush injuries.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Stockton
I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer. Crush injuries can place families under a significant amount of stress. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident, call me at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
I invite everyone to read through some of our verdicts and settlements.
Image Attribution: The image from the top, found originally on Wikimedia Commons, has been printed on this page under the 2.0 version of the Creative Commons License.
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