One of the more serious injuries a person can incur in a motor vehicle accident is a fractured sternum. Because the sternum serves to protect the heart, lungs and important blood vessels beneath it, a fracture may cause concomitant damage to those organs and vessels.

Sternum fractures may occur when a person suffers a hard strike to their chest in a car accident. They are more likely when a person is not wearing a seat belt or if the airbags do not deploy. The fractured bone may then puncture the person’s lungs, rupture the aorta or bruise the person’s heart. Their chest cavity may also fill with blood from the damaged tissues.

People who suffer from a sternum fracture often have other fractures as well, including those to their ribs or vertebrae. Symptoms of a sternum fracture include the appearance of deformity in the area, swelling and bruising across the injury site or difficulty with breathing. People may feel pain when coughing, laughing or sneezing. They may also experience a grinding sound in the area and have sudden muscle spasms. Those who have a sternum fracture are also at risk to develop osteomyelitis or pneumonia, further complicating the injury received.

If people suspect they have suffered a sternum fracture in a car accident, it is important for them to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Getting prompt treatment can aid the victim’s long-term recovery and minimize the risk of developing other illnesses due to the injury. Those who have been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver may also want to consider meeting with a personal injury attorney to determine the remedies that may be available for the recovery of the resulting damages.