In many cases chest pain after a car accident does not start for several days. The main cause of the pain is usually related to one of three things – injuries from the seat belt tightening or the airbag deploying, a damaged heart, and/or broken bones. Damage to soft tissue and even some broken bones may not show up on medical scans and x-rays completed immediately after the accident. You discover there is an injury two or three days later when you begin experiencing pain.
Seat Belt Tightens or Airbag Deploys
A car that is suddenly stopped will force the seat belt to quickly tighten as the driver or passenger is propelled forward. The seat belt may prevent more severe head injuries, but in the process it often causes soft tissue bruising or muscle strain. In some cases the tightening of the seat belt can even break or crack a rib bone or cause whiplash.
There may be obvious bruising on the skin, but auto accident victims also experience deep bruising of soft tissue. The bruising is not discovered until days after the accident.
Another cause of similar chest area injuries is airbag deployment during an impact.
Damage to the Heart
A sudden blow to the chest area can lead to a myocardial contusion which is bruising of the heart. An even more severe injury is aortic dissection which is where the main artery is torn from the heart.
In some car accidents, the injury to the heart leads to bleeding into the pericardium which is the sac around the heart. Slow bleeding into the sac will begin to constrict the heart. The symptoms do not appear until after the auto accident and include shortness of breath, chest pain and swelling due to poor circulation.
Broken and Cracked Bones
A car accident can cause broken or cracked bones in the chest area including the sternum and bones of the rib cage. Bone injuries like sternal fractures or cracked ribs do not always show up on x-rays, and the person doesn’t know the injuries exist until they become painful.
Consult An Attorney
It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after an accident because injuries may not be apparent at the time of the accident. If you begin experiencing chest pain after the accident then it’s important to retain a lawyer who will work to make sure you get full compensation for auto related injuries. Find out more info on how long term medical expenses are compensated.