How Do I Know if I Have Cracked Ribs After a Car Crash?

Cars colliding with other vehicles might cause blunt trauma to the chest, such as broken ribs. The force of the seatbelt or impact from the steering wheel may also cause your ribs to break in an accident.

Injuries to the ribs generally heal without medical intervention, but they can result in expensive medical costs while losing income due to time off for your recovery. When you work with an experienced car accident lawyer, you can focus on healing while they can help you recover much-needed compensation for injuries.

Symptoms of Cracked Ribs

In an accident that causes one or more broken ribs, you may feel a sharp pain. Your rib injury may also present with the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of pain when you touch your ribs, cough, or laugh
  • Deep breaths hurt your chest
  • Twisting your body makes the pain worse
  • Bruising

Rib injuries can be life-threatening in particular situations, such as damaging blood vessels or causing internal organ injuries. These are a few ‌complications associated with a cracked rib:

Torn or punctured aorta

One of the first three ribs may break. Its sharp end can puncture the aorta or another major vessel in your heart.

Punctured Lung

When a cracked middle rib pierces the lung, it can lead to lung collapse.

Lacerated spleen, liver, or kidneys

Due to their flexibility, the bottom and middle ribs are less likely to fracture than the top and middle ribs. However, a lower rib break may cause severe damage to the spleen, liver, or kidneys.

If you notice bruising or sharp pain while breathing after a vehicle accident, ‌seek attention from your medical provider. They can examine you to determine the severity of the injury to your ribs.

Treatment for a Cracked Rib

During an examination with your medical provider, they gently press around the injured area and listen to your lungs. They may order imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to identify rib fractures and damage to the blood vessels, soft tissues, and organs.

Your provider may recommend resting and using ice to alleviate pain and speed up your recovery process. You may ease the pain of cracked ribs by holding a pillow or blanket against them to provide support.

Most cracked ribs may heal within six weeks, so your doctor may have you undergo these treatments as part of your recovery plan.


To relieve the discomfort, you may take over-the-counter pain-relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Depending on your needs, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relief medications.

Breathing exercises

Rib fractures are most likely to cause lung infections. Your physician can advise you on how to perform breathing exercises and may recommend you use a spirometer. Using compression wraps is no longer recommended because they restrict breathing and may cause pneumonia.


Surgical treatment may be necessary for cracked ribs, especially if you have more than one cracked rib or if other internal organs are damaged. Your medical provider may have you undergo surgical stabilization of your broken ribs within seven days after the accident, ideally within three days.

The provider monitors your recovery process, including keeping up with your breathing exercises and managing your discomfort so you can remain active. They can also discuss when it is safe for you to return to work, sports, and daily activities.

When You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident

Imaging tests, prescription costs, medical devices, and follow-up visits to your provider can quickly add up financially. You may have needed time off from work to help your ribs heal.

If a negligent driver caused your accident, one of the St. Louis car accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can help you get the compensation you need to cover your medical costs and lost wages.

A lawyer at our law firm can help you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company seeking a fair settlement for your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to settle for an acceptable amount, your attorney can sue for accident-related damages like medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, in court.

Work with Experienced Legal Counsel to Recover Your Medical Expenses

When you are injured in an accident and suffer from cracked ribs, you need the help of the car accident lawyers at Cofman Townsley to protect your right to compensation.

Schedule a free, confidential consultation today to speak with one of our lawyers.