Crushing injuries happen when your body experiences pressure over a broad area. These injuries can have catastrophic effects, including shattered bones, nerve damage, and even death.
Crush injuries can require long-term medical care due to their impact on the kidneys. They can also cause permanent disabilities due to damage to the skeleton and soft tissues.
What Is a Crushing Injury?
Crushing injuries happen when your body tissues get compressed. Crushing injuries can range from a minor pinch when you slam your hand in a cabinet to the massive trauma of being run over by a car in a pedestrian accident. In both cases, the pain, swelling, and tissue death you experience come from damage to the crushed tissues.
At the microscopic level, crushing forces can damage cells. Pressure on cells can cause them to rupture and die. When this happens, the cell’s contents spill through the cell wall. Once they are floating freely outside the cell wall, the cell’s contents are treated by the body as waste since they cannot perform their functions outside the cell.
What Are the Symptoms of a Crushing Injury?
On a macroscopic scale, this cellular damage can produce many symptoms. Muscle tissue will die as a result of the ruptured cells. The dead muscle tissue may even develop gangrene. This condition happens when dead tissue poisons your body.
Pressure on the body can also damage internal structures important for your body’s function. Blood vessels can rupture and bleed. This hemorrhaging can produce large bruises. These bruises will cause pain, swelling, and discolored patches.
Compression can also cause nerve damage. Nerves carry signals from the brain to your muscles and organs to control them. They also carry sensory signals from your eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and skin to your brain.
Nerves carry signals through a combination of chemical and electrical signals. When the nerves get crushed, they can drop signals or generate false signals. As a result, you might experience paralysis, pain, and numbness.
Crushing forces can also cause structural damage, shattering bones. These shattered bones, or comminuted fractures, happen when a bone breaks into at least three pieces. Since your injury includes free-floating bone fragments, you will require surgery to reconstruct the bone before it can heal.
During this surgery, doctors will reassemble the bone fragments like constructing a jigsaw puzzle. They use plates and screws to hold these pieces together. After reconstruction, the fracture is immobilized using a cast or other rigid shell. Since the fractured bone suffered massive damage, it can take up to a year to heal.
What Are the Potential Complications of a Crushing Injury?
Crushing injuries can produce many complications, including:
Your blood vessels can get damaged by crushing forces. Blood vessels normally have a pliable cylindrical shape so the blood can flow smoothly. But after a crushing injury, your blood vessels may collapse and become prone to bleeding, blood clots, or other complications.
Compartment syndrome happens when swelling cuts off circulation to a body part. In the case of a crushing injury, damaged muscles can swell. But as the muscles swell, the skin constricts them. This constriction causes the muscles to squeeze the blood vessels, cutting off circulation below the injury.
Cells need oxygen to live. This oxygen gets carried by the blood. Vascular damage or compartment syndrome can deprive cells of their oxygen supply and kill them. If doctors cannot restore circulation, they may need to amputate the crushed body part to prevent gangrene.
The massive tissue death caused by a crushing injury floods the blood with dead cells. The kidneys filter these cells from the blood as waste products. But the kidneys can get overwhelmed, triggering a shutdown. This form of kidney failure is known as crush syndrome.
What Can Cause Crushing Injuries?
Crushing injuries can happen in many ways, including:
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplace safety. One of the most common construction accidents is called “caught in or between.” This accident happens when your body gets crushed.
It can happen in a few ways, including the following scenarios:
- A vehicle pins you against a fixed structure like a building or parked vehicle
- A trench or tunnel collapses onto you
- A machine catches your arm and pulls it into the machine
These accidents account for over 5% of construction worker deaths.
Car accidents are common causes of lower limb crushing injuries. These injuries happen when the passenger compartment collapses and crushes your legs. For example, in head-on collisions, the impact force can push the engine into the firewall. The firewall bends inward, trapping your feet and legs.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Pedestrians and cyclists have no protection against cars. When you get hit by a car, the vehicle can run over your body, crushing it.
These injuries do not always involve your entire body. A car can knock you down and run over your hand. The crushing injuries to your hand can include shattered bones and torn soft tissues.
How Can You Obtain Compensation for a Crushing Injury?
If you suffered a crushing injury in the course and scope of your employment, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits will pay for your reasonable and necessary medical treatment. They will also pay a share, typically two-thirds, of your lost income.
If your crushing injury happened in an accident unrelated to your work, you could pursue a claim against the person or business that caused your accident. For example, if you were crushed when a defective garage door closed on top of you, the manufacturer might bear liability for your injuries.
In a lawsuit or insurance claim for crushing injuries, you can recover compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. You can include medical bills, income losses, and pain and suffering in your injury claim.Crushing injuries can cause devastating disfigurement and disabilities. They can even kill an accident victim. Contact or call George Salinas Injury Lawyers at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation to discuss your crushing injury and the compensation you can recover.