Hematoma vs. Contusion

Hematoma vs. Contusion

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Hematoma vs. Contusion

Imagine the following scenario: You are playing a pickup game of soccer in the park with your friends when you trip and suffer an injury. One of your friends is a doctor and quickly looks over your injury. She says that she thinks it is just a contusion but that you should get it evaluated at an urgent care center. Taking her advice, you leave the game and get a full medical evaluation.

The doctor at the urgent care center examines your injury and diagnoses you with a hematoma. Treatment is relatively simple, but now you wonder why the two doctors disagree on diagnoses. What is the difference between a hematoma and contusion?

Understanding the difference will make it easier for you to decide whether you want to contact a lawyer after suffering an injury. If you do decide you need a lawyer, contact Morgan & Morgan immediately to schedule a free case evaluation.

Hematoma vs. Contusion: Two Commonly Confused Terms

Many patients may think that hematoma and contusion are just two terms for the same thing. Unless you know what to listen for, it can sound like your doctor uses the two terms interchangeably. And while they are related, they are not identical terms.

A contusion is another term for a bruise. Contusions occur when blood vessels are damaged near the surface of the skin, but the skin isn’t broken. When that happens, blood pools into the tissue just under the skin.

A hematoma is the accumulation of clotted blood in a contained area. Hematomas are very similar to bruises. However, with hematomas, the blood doesn’t pool but instead clots in one contained area, resulting in swelling.

Not all hematomas occur near the surface of the skin, though. When hematomas occur internally, they aren’t visible.

Hematoma vs. Contusion: Which Is Most Dangerous?

Typically, contusions are not very dangerous. Usually, when blood clots near the skin's surface, it looks scary but isn’t very threatening. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin usually heal relatively quickly and without any need for medical intervention. The skin discoloration may take a few weeks to fade, but the danger is minimal.

However, hematomas may be a lot more threatening. Any hematoma that isn’t visible could result in internal bleeding if the blood vessels don’t heal quickly. If you lose enough blood for long enough, a hematoma can be fatal.

Even if you aren’t at risk of blood loss, clotted blood can get infected or interfere with the performance of nearby organs. If an infection spreads to organs or bones, a surgeon might have to remove the infected parts to save your life.

Finally, clotted blood places pressure on nearby tissue. Usually, that just creates some swelling and potentially some stiffness in joints. However, when a hematoma is in your brain, that pressure can cause a stroke, which is potentially fatal.

Hematomas and Contusions in the Elderly

Hematomas and contusions are commonly observed in nursing homes. There are two common ways that these injuries might appear on residents in a nursing home, and both are concerning.


As you get older, your blood vessels become more brittle. This means it takes increasingly less force to rupture a blood vessel. When you are young, it may take a serious blow to cause a bruise. However, when you are older, you may not even need to suffer any type of blunt-force trauma to be injured.

Many elderly people suffer bruises from lying in the same position for too long. The pressure of gravity is enough to cause brittle blood vessels to burst when an elderly person lies against a surface for too long. This is even true if the bed they are lying in is quite soft.

The staff at nursing homes are aware of the danger of bedsores and also know how to prevent them. This involves ensuring that residents move about regularly. Even if a resident isn’t able to leave their bed, they can roll over or move about in the bed to prevent constant pressure on a single point.

When staff members are negligent, they may allow residents to suffer bedsores by not attending to them and helping them move about. This is more threatening than just skin discoloration and some pain. Bedsores, when left untreated, can get infected or burst, creating an open wound.

If you see any signs of bedsores on a loved one living in a nursing home, you should contact the attorneys at Morgan and Morgan as soon as possible. We have decades of experience dealing with this type of negligence and can get you and your loved one compensation.

Elder Abuse

The other major cause of hematomas and contusions in the elderly is elder abuse. This type of abuse occurs when someone responsible for caring for the resident intentionally abuses them.

The most obvious form of abuse is physical assault. This results in bruises. Because the elderly are more susceptible to injury, it doesn’t take much abuse to cause serious damage. Even slaps are likely to cause deep bruises.

Some abuse isn’t as direct. A staff member might ignore the needs of a resident, causing them to get hurt without directly striking them. For example, if a staff member doesn’t help a resident bathe, the resident might fall while getting into the shower or tub alone and suffer injuries.

Falling is one of the most common types of injuries that results from neglect, and it is extremely dangerous. While falls will often result in visible bruises, head injuries or organ damage are not always visible. This means your loved one could be suffering internal bleeding from a hematoma that you can’t see.

You should ask your loved ones if they have experienced any falls when you visit or call. If they report any, contact a doctor right away. You should also contact Morgan & Morgan because there is a good chance you have a strong neglect case that we can help with.

When You Can Get Compensation for a Hematoma or Contusion

While some contusions just happen and there isn’t much you do about them, there are several situations that can make you eligible for compensation after you or a loved one suffers a contusion or a hematoma.

If you think you might be eligible, contact our law firm right away to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. We will investigate your case and determine the expected value of any compensation you could receive.

Car Accidents

Contusions are extremely common in serious car accidents. If you wear your seat belt, there is a good chance you will suffer serious bruises from the strap, protecting you from worse injuries. Sometimes this can even cause a hematoma within an internal organ. This is a life-threatening injury that may be worth millions.

Epidural hematomas are common when a car is struck from the side. When this happens, the driver or passenger is likely to smash their head against the window. In this type of hematoma, the blood vessels are damaged near the brain and cause brain damage or death if left untreated.

Nursing Home Neglect

If your loved one is complaining of any type of pain or if you notice any bruises, contact a physician not associated with the nursing home immediately. As previously discussed, these can be signs of neglect, and the nursing home would likely be liable for significant damages, especially if the neglect shortened the life of your loved one.

Premises Liability

When you visit a business or public location, the owner of that location is required to ensure your safety. If the owner doesn’t take the appropriate actions to protect you from harm, they are responsible for any injuries you suffer.

The most common source of contusions that fall under premises liability lawsuits are slip and fall injuries. This may happen when:

  • Floors aren’t mopped after spills
  • Lighting in stairwells isn’t maintained
  • Puddles are allowed to sit in foyers on rainy or snowy days
  • Parking lots aren’t kept in good repair

These are just some of the common examples of ways that a location owner can be responsible for a slip and fall injury at their premises.

Workplace Injuries

Contusions are the most common workplace injuries in places where employees are expected to perform physical labor. If you are a construction worker, for example, you could suffer a blow from working with machinery or from heavy construction materials.

When you suffer any type of injury at the workplace, your employer is responsible for compensating you for the injury and for any lost time due to the injury. If this happens to you, contact our law firm before reporting the injury. An employer might try to avoid paying you the compensation you deserve, and we won’t let that happen.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • Will a Hematoma Go Away on Its Own?

    That depends on the severity of the injury. If you suffered a simple contusion, it should go away after a few weeks with minimal care as long as you take it easy. You know it is going away if it begins to fade after about a week.

    An internal hematoma is a lot more difficult to monitor and can be a lot more dangerous. It might heal, or it might be getting worse. And if it isn’t healing, you could be in mortal danger. Typically, you should be cautious and visit a doctor as soon as possible after suffering a hematoma.

  • How Can I Make a Hematoma Heal More Quickly?

    Generally, it is recommended that you do the following:

    • Rest
    • Apply ice to the injury
    • Apply compression to the injury
    • Elevate it to reduce swelling

    However, this isn’t always the best solution. The best way to facilitate healing is to follow the specific instructions given by your physician for your particular injury.

  • If I Receive Compensation for Medical Treatment, Can I Use the Doctor of My Choice?

    Most states protect people’s right to choose their own doctors. However, in some states, an insurance company can limit your choices or dictate who treats you, especially if you are injured on the job. Your lawyer will explain your options based on the circumstances of your injuries.

  • Lawyers Who Simplify Medical Terminology

    At Morgan and Morgan, our attorneys have decades of experience helping victims of negligence recover quickly. Part of that experience is helping people like you understand complex medical terms and how they affect your case. If you want more information, contact our law firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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