Compression forces on your body cause crushing injuries. The pressure can physically destroy tissue and begin a chemical reaction in your body that leads to long-term tissue damage. As a result, you could experience the effects of a crushing injury long after your accident.
Whether you suffered a crushing injury in a workplace accident, car accident, or dog attack, you may have permanent disabilities from your accident. You could lose a limb, suffer permanent disfigurement, and even require a kidney transplant after a crushing injury.
Here is some information about crushing injuries and your options for recovering compensation.
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How Does a Crushing Injury Happen?
Crushing injuries happen when a force or weight compresses your body. Some situations where this might happen include:
Some ways you could get crushed in a workplace include:
- Being pinned by a vehicle
- Getting caught in a machine
- Being trapped under an object
One of the most common crushing injuries in the workplace is a crushed limb from a dropped object. For example, a heavy object could fall from a storage shelf and crush your foot.
Car accidents can cause crushing injuries when the passenger compartment collapses around you. The firewall could collapse, trapping your leg under the dashboard. A rollover accident could crush your chest or abdomen if the roof of the vehicle collapses.
Motorcycle accidents can result in a crushing injury if you get pinned under your motorcycle after the collision. Touring motorcycles can weigh anywhere from 400 to 1,000 pounds. A motorcycle can easily crush your leg or body if it tips over on you.
If a car runs over you after a pedestrian accident or bicycle accident, you can suffer a crushing injury. A crushing injury can result from even an instantaneous compression force if the force is large. Thus, a car that knocks you over and runs over your arm could cause a crushing injury, even though you do not get trapped under the car’s tire.
You might not believe a dog attack measures up to getting crushed by a car or factory machine. But a dog’s jaws can generate over 300 pounds of force during an attack. The dog focuses this force across their teeth resulting in enormous pressure at each tooth. Additionally, a dog may twist its head to tear your flesh as it crushes you.
What Damage is Caused by a Crushing Injury?
Compression forces on your body can cause many conditions, including:
If a compression force on your chest prevents you from expanding your lungs, you can suffocate.
Brain cells begin to die after just one minute without oxygen. No oxygen for three to four minutes will result in permanent brain damage. At 10 minutes, the likelihood of revival drops severely. After 15 minutes, doctors and EMTs usually consider the patient brain dead.
A comminuted fracture happens when a bone fractures into three or more pieces. Treatment for a comminuted fracture requires doctors to reassemble the bone fragments like a jigsaw puzzle. The doctor secures the fragments in place using plates and screws.
If the doctor cannot find a fragment or a fragment has sustained too much damage, the doctor can leave it out or replace it with a bone graft.
Symptoms of shattered bones include:
- A crooked appearance
A shattered bone usually takes at least eight weeks to heal. After healing, doctors may prescribe physical therapy to strengthen the injured area.
Compression forces can destroy muscle tissue by tearing it apart. It can also kill tissue by crushing or tearing the blood vessels that feed the muscle. In either case, muscle tissue dies from a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
Some signs of damage that may lead to tissue death include severe bruising and bleeding.
Nerves cannot function effectively after a crushing injury. Nerves transmit electrical nerve signals using charged ions. When they get severed, they cannot transmit signals. When they get compressed, they become inflamed and may misfire.
Symptoms of nerve damage from a crushing injury include:
- Loss of dexterity
Doctors cannot repair severed nerves. Occasionally, doctors can relieve pinched nerves with surgery.
What Complications Might Arise from a Crushing Injury?
Crushing injuries can massively damage your body’s tissue. As a result, your body must deal with the injury as well as complications arising from the injury, including:
If the bone and tissue sustain too much damage for doctors to repair, they may amputate. Amputation can save your life, but it will leave you permanently disabled and disfigured.
Infection happens when bacteria invade your body through an open wound. Lacerations and abrasions from a crushing injury can allow an infection to start.
Doctors usually treat infections with antibiotics. Unfortunately, infections can spread quickly. This could lead to sepsis and death if left unchecked.
Compartment syndrome happens when tissue swells after an injury. The swelling can cut off the blood supply and nerves below the injury. The lack of blood flow can kill healthy and uninjured tissue.
For example, suppose that a car crushes your arm in a pedestrian accident. After the accident, your arm swells, cutting off the blood flow to your hand. As a result, you could suffer tissue damage in your hand, even though it was not crushed in the accident.
Crush syndrome happens long after your accident as your body attempts to process the cells killed in the crushing injury. The crushed cells release their contents into your bloodstream. Dead and dying cells also release waste products into your blood.
Your kidneys filter your blood. When you suffer a crush injury, the waste products in your blood can overwhelm your kidneys. In some cases, kidney failure will result. If your body cannot restore kidney function, you may need a kidney transplant.
Is Compensation Available for a Crushing Injury?
Crushing injuries usually result from highly traumatic accidents. If your accident happened at work, workers’ compensation might provide your only option for medical and disability benefits.
If your accident happened anywhere else, you may have the right to pursue compensation from whoever caused your accident. If you prove the other party acted negligently, you can recover your economic and non-economic losses.