Some pain and soreness are normal following a car accident. The sudden impact of a collision, whether it was with another vehicle or an object, can cause strains and sprains, some of which you may not notice until days after the incident.
However, chest pain following a car accident should not go unaddressed. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons for the pain you’re experiencing, and what to do if your chest hurts after a car accident.
Your Body’s Response to a Car Accident
Involvement in a car accident is always traumatic, both physically and emotionally. But accidents happen so fast, it’s perfectly normal to feel as if you’re unharmed immediately following a crash.
When you’re in an accident, your body releases adrenaline. This hormone naturally occurs in your body and is released during extremely stressful times. Adrenaline protects you in several ways. Most notably, it increases your energy, and it greatly increases your pain threshold.
At the same time your body is releasing adrenaline, you’ll also be experiencing the effects of endorphins. Endorphins, also hormones, will make you feel relaxed. Sure, you may still be in shock over what just occurred, but your endorphins will temper that shock so that you can react appropriately.
Because of your body’s natural defenses, it’s not uncommon to feel no pain at all following a car accident. A common mistake car accident victims make is believing they’re not injured because they don’t feel immediate effects. Don’t make that mistake. Get a full doctor’s examination if you’re in a car crash.
Chest Pain After a Car Accident
One of the most common types of pain after a crash is simple soreness. Bruising and muscle strain are almost inevitable and will invariably cause pain or discomfort. Your airbag, seatbelt and your steering wheel can directly cause pain in your chest.
However, if you’re experiencing chest pain after a car accident, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. There are several injuries that could be causing your pain, including cracked ribs, which could puncture your lungs or cause trauma to your heart.
Heart attacks can occur as a result of a car accident, as well. Let’s face it: car accidents are stressful events! Atrial fibrillation and a condition known as “broken heart syndrome” (or takotsubo syndrome) are both common following a car accident and are caused by stress.
If your chest hurts after a car accident, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. While atrial fibrillation and broken heart syndrome are usually not fatal, they can require long-term medical management.
What to Do if Your Chest Hurts After a Car Accident
When you’re involved in a car accident, there are certain steps you should take, even if you don’t feel pain or discomfort at the time. First, call 911. Police and medics will be sent to the scene of the crash. Police will generate an accident report, and medical professionals will give you a preliminary examination.
Next, exchange insurance information with others involved in the accident, if you’re able. If you’re unable to communicate with others at the scene, don’t worry. Your car accident attorney can help gather this information later.
Finally, don’t refuse transport to the hospital. Your health is your first priority, and the sooner you seek medical attention the better. Early documentation of your medical diagnosis is critical to both proper treatment and legal action, should it become necessary.
If your chest hurts following a heart attack, there’s only one thing to do: find out why. Gain the appropriate referrals from your hospital doctor or your primary care physician to undergo whichever tests are necessary to accurately diagnose your chest pain.
Even if your chest pain isn’t severe, any discomfort could be the sign of an underlying problem. Seek treatment right away.
Do I Need an Attorney for Chest Pain After an Accident?
If you’re involved in a car accident, legal representation can be invaluable to you. Law enforcement and the insurance companies will determine whether you were at fault for the accident or not. Regardless of their decision, contact a car accident attorney.
If you’re found to be at fault for your car accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help you negotiate with your insurance company and the insurance provider of other drivers involved. You may be able to receive compensation to cover your medical and other expenses. Speak with your lawyer to determine whether you have a case.
If you’re not at fault for the car accident, your attorney will assist you in reaching a settlement that will cover your:
- Medical expenses
- Damages to personal property
- At-home care, if necessary
- Lost wages due to your accident
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Counseling or therapy
- Emergency transportation (ambulance, medevac)
Keep in mind that your attorney cannot guarantee the outcome of your case. However, an experienced attorney will know the ropes, so to speak, and will be able to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.