If you experience chest pain after getting into a car accident, it could be nothing to worry about, but it could also be life-threatening. Unfortunately, chest pain symptoms can be very similar for both non-life threatening and life-threatening injuries.

If you suffer from chest pain after a car accident, the car accident attorneys at Distasio Law Firm can help you recover compensation. We help our personal injury clients hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.

What You Should Do if You Experience Chest Pain after a Car Accident

Unless you’re a cardiologist, you’re probably not qualified to determine if your symptoms are signs of something more serious like a heart attack. For this reason, do not ignore chest pain after a car accident. Go to the hospital or a trustworthy doctor immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Hopefully, your chest pain is a minor problem thaCt goes away, but sometimes, that does not happen. If your injuries are serious and they were caused by someone else’s negligence, you should consult with a lawyer from our personal injury firm who works on car accident cases.

Why Does Chest Pain Happen after a Car Accident?

Chest pain is common after a car accident because of the extreme forces that can occur. It also happens because of how cars are designed and the location of drivers and passengers within the car. Design issues that cause chest pain and chest injuries include:

  • The steering wheel being close to the driver
  • The dashboard being close to the passenger
  • The use of a seat belt
  • Airbag deployment

Seat belts and airbags can cause chest injuries when the forces of a car accident propel the occupant into them. Chest pain and chest injuries can happen even when they are used properly.

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While it’s true that seat belts and airbags can cause chest injuries in a car accident, the benefits still outweigh the risk. This is because not using a seat belt or disabling an airbag can lead to much more severe injuries or even death. Statistically, seat belts and airbags prevent more injuries than they cause. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says they prevented more than 14,000 deaths in 2017.

Causes of Chest Pain after a Car Accident that You Can Seek Damages for

Chest pain after a car accident is a symptom of something wrong. It is not itself an injury. The most common reasons for experiencing chest pain from a car accident are detailed below.

Rib Injuries

The force of the impact slamming occupants into seat belts, the steering wheel, the inside door structure, or the dashboard can cause rib injuries.

If the impact is severe enough, you can end up with fractured ribs or sternum. The impact causes the ribs to break or crack. In extreme cases, the broken ribs can displace, fragment, or puncture internal organs or blood vessels. Symptoms of cracked ribs include:

  • Extreme chest pain around the broken ribs
  • Increased chest pain when breathing
  • Increased pain when you touch the broken ribs
  • Increased pain when you twist, cough, or try to laugh

Sometimes the impact is not severe enough to cause fractured ribs or sternum. The ribs and sternum can still be bruised. The symptoms of bruised ribs can be similar to fractured ribs, but the pain is usually less severe. Often the only way to tell the difference is with imaging studies like an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

Most people with bruised ribs complain of:

  • Dull aching chest pain near the ribs
  • Infrequent chest pain
  • Pain increasing with deep breaths and position changes

Muscle Strain or Damage to Connective Tissue and/or Cartilage

There are small muscles, supportive tissue, and cartilage surrounding the chest and ribs. They can be stretched or torn in a car accident and cause chest pain. Sometimes you can tell the difference between a muscle strain and rib injury because of the pain’s intensity and location.

With muscle strains, supporting tissue damage, and cartilage injury, the pain will not be on the bones themselves. The pain will usually be less severe and may often only hurt when lifting, bending, or moving your chest.

Injuries to Internal Organs

Damage to internal organs might also cause chest pain. There are many different ways that a car accident can damage internal organs. The most common are:

  • Hitting the steering wheel
  • Hitting the dashboard
  • Pressure from the seat belt
  • A puncture from a broken rib

Common organs damaged in car accidents include the stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys, and intestines. If the organ is bruised, it may heal over time without intervention. Sometimes these injuries include internal bleeding, which is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires emergency medical attention. Often, emergency surgery is the only way to fix it.

Lung Injuries

Lungs can be bruised, punctured, or collapsed in a car accident. Like many other injuries that can cause chest pain, these lung injuries can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coughing

Cardiac Contusions

A cardiac contusion (also called a myocardial contusion) is a medical term that means the heart muscle itself is bruised, according to MedlinePlus. It can be caused by the rapid deceleration forces and blunt trauma that occurs during a car accident. The bruising occurs on the front or anterior aspect of the chest wall.

Often, a cardiac contusion occurs when the forces are severe enough to cause a fractured sternum or rib. Symptoms of a myocardial contusion include:

  • Tenderness and pain in the sternum and/or ribcage
  • A racing heart (an arrhythmia)
  • Increase of chest pain with deep breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling faint

Heart Attacks

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common—and serious—causes of chest pain is a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked. The lack of oxygen to the heart causes part of the heart to die.

The stress that occurs during a car accident can definitely trigger a heart attack. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • Aching sensation in chest and or arms
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Panic Attacks

Sometimes chest pain after a car accident can indicate a panic attack. Also called an anxiety attack, a panic attack occurs when the stress and fear of a car accident overwhelm you. It is defined as a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers a physical reaction. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or increased heart rate
  • Cold sweat
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

The Attorneys at Distasio Law Firm Can Help You with Your Case

After seeking medical treatment for your chest pain, depending on your prognosis, it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer from our team to help with your case. It can be difficult to handle a legal case on your own, and one of our attorneys can do the following to take some pressure off your shoulders:

Investigate the Car Accident

A car accident lawyer from Distasio Law Firm can look into your case’s facts to determine the negligent party and gather evidence.

After gathering the evidence we need to prove the other party’s negligence, we can build a case against them and evaluate your damages to see what you’re entitled to.

Negotiate with the Liable Parties

Once we build your case, we will take it to the party responsible for paying your damages. In most cases, this will be the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

We will negotiate with the insurance adjuster assigned to your case to secure a fair settlement on your behalf. It is up to you to accept the settlement, but we will guide you in what we believe will compensate you for your losses.

File a Lawsuit

In some cases, we cannot settle with the at-fault party or their insurance company because they will not negotiate fairly. If this is the case, we have no problem filing a lawsuit against them if we believe we can secure compensation for you.

We will take care of filing all the applicable paperwork and argue for your case in front of a judge or jury.

The Compensation You May Be Entitled to for Your Chest Injury

A lawyer from Distasio Law Firm can evaluate your case and help you seek damages for your losses. The compensation you might be entitled to includes recovery for losses such as:

  • The medical bills you accumulate for treating your chest pain
  • The wages you lost from being unable to work
  • The future lost wages you will endure from a disability
  • The pain you’ve suffered

This is not an exhaustive list of the compensation you might be able to recover. A car accident lawyer from Distasio Law Firm can give you a better idea of what you might be entitled to.

Call a Distasio Law Firm Lawyer for a Free Case Review

If you have been injured in an automotive accident, contact one of our dedicated car accident lawyers near you now for a free consultation.


Our main office is here in Downtown Tampa, Florida in the Channelside neighborhood. Office in Wesley Chapel and Largo are available by appointment only.

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