Among the more devastating injuries which may occur from an accident is a crush injury. A crush injury traumatic damage that occurs when a part of the body is compressed for an extended time. These injuries can happen to the torso, limbs, or other body parts. The injury that results from the compression can affect soft tissues, muscles, bones, organs, and nerves.
How Do Crush Injuries Commonly Happen?
Crush injuries are common in disaster sites and industrial and agricultural environments where workers deal with heavy objects and machinery. Generally, these injuries occur when a heavy falling object lands on a person or when a heavy vehicle runs over a limb. Injuries can also occur when a body part or a person gets entangled in or trapped under such equipment.
What Are the Common Effects of a Crush Injury?
After a crush injury, the victim will often exhibit:
- Bleeding – Bleeding can occur from wounds caused by the crush injury or can be internal as a result of a crushed torso.
- Fractures – Bones in the arms, legs, or torso can be injured by a falling weight or when a victim is caught up in industrial or agricultural equipment. Smaller bones, such as those in hands or feet, can also be broken when something heavy rolls over the victim.
- Nerve Injuries – The heavy pressure involved in crush injuries can cause significant nerve damage, leading to loss of fine motor function or even paralysis.
- Infection – Crush injuries are often massive, leaving the victim with many open wounds. Each such wound is prone to infection by bacteria entering the body through those wounds so long as they remain open. Given the industrial and agricultural sites of many crush injuries, the potential for serious, difficult-to-treat infections is high.
- Lacerations and Bruises – Soft tissue damage is one of the primary effects of crush injuries. Heavy weight lands on the victim, tearing skin, muscle, and nerves and leaving large areas of bruising behind.
- Compartment Syndrome – Compartment syndrome is a condition that involves increased pressure in a compartment within the muscle itself. Tissue layers called fascia keep groups of muscles apart; these fasciae have small spaces in them called compartments. Because they do not expand at all, any swelling in a compartment compresses the nearby nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. If the swelling is severe, the blocked blood flow can lead to permanent damage to the surrounding tissues and nerves.
- Compression Syndrome – Compression syndrome is an indirect muscle injury resulting from a slow, simple compression of a group of muscles. It causes diminished or absent blood flow and may cause the release of crushed substances to enter the blood flow.
- Crush Syndrome -Crush syndrome is a particular crush injury that occurs when extreme pressure is applied to the torse in such a way as to cause major damage to internal organs, often the kidneys. Damage to the kidneys can result in renal failure, but other crush syndrome injuries may also present with acute respiratory distress, electrolyte imbalances, widespread abnormal blood clotting, shock, and irregular heartbeats.
How Are Crush Injuries Treated?
There are stages in the treatment of crush injuries. First, of course, the victim should be removed from the crushing, if that can be done without risk of further injury. If a heavy object is on the victim, it should be removed. If the victim is trapped in a machine or between weights, try to extricate the victim safely. Always try not to further injure the victim.
The next step is to stop any severe bleeding present. Pressure applied to the wound is usually the most successful method of doing that. Try to cover any open wounds with bandages or moist cloths and elevate the injured body part if possible. Immobilize any potential head, neck, or spinal injuries; splint breaks if possible and desirable. Obtain medical help as soon as possible. Immediate surgery, treatment with antibiotics, and other emergency treatment may be urgently needed.
What Is the Long-Term Prognosis for Crush Injury Victims?
Crush injury victims may suffer severe life-altering consequences from their injuries. Leg injuries can result in loss of motor function or paralysis, while damage to internal organs, particularly the kidneys, can lead to lifelong dependence on dialysis.
Where injuries occur in a large natural or another type of disaster, the substantial delays in treatment can make the prognosis even worse. The majority of deaths at such sites result from a lack of oxygen, severe traumatic brain injury, and shock from loss of blood and fluids. Medical professionals refer to “time under the rubble” as the significant predictor of survival, with 80 percent of victims dying immediately. The harmful effects of kidney failure due to crush injury will be made worse by any other serious injuries the victim also suffered.
Where bones are shattered rather than fractured, treatment of the crush injury is complex because bone grafts may be necessary. Tissue can die, and the affected body part may require amputation. Blood clots resulting from the crushing can break free and travel to the heart or lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, or embolisms.
What Can You Recover for a Crush Injury
Because crush injuries create both short and long-term consequences, calculating the potential compensation after an accident can be complex. You might be able to recover compensation for medical and hospital care, physical therapy, drugs and medications, and assistive care and equipment. Over the long-term, you may have experienced injuries resulting in loss of motor or cognitive function, leading to loss of wages and future earning capacity. Finally, there are the less apparent but equally substantial injuries from physical and mental pain and suffering, for which you may also receive compensation.
You should, however, be aware that Florida is a comparative negligence state. This rule of law means that your potential compensation can be reduced by the percentage for which you were at fault for your own injuries.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Crush Injury Attorney Today
If you or someone you love was involved in a crush accident, you should contact a crush accident attorney for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Attorneys who focus their practice on personal injury will understand the potential short and long-term costs and losses that can result from crush injuries. They can use their experience and knowledge to help you get the best possible recovery from your injuries. Your first consultation and case evaluation are at no cost to you and can lead to peace of mind by letting someone help you deal with the financial and medical results of your burns. Contact us today or call us at 800-800-6500 to schedule your consultation.