Crush injuries occur when excessive force or pressure is placed on a single part of the body, as when someone becomes trapped beneath a heavy weight. Without immediate treatment, crush injuries typically result in permanent disability or death. While crush injuries are often associated with workplace accidents involving heavy machinery and building collapses, these are not the only ways in which these types of injuries can occur. Car and truck accident victims, for instance, can suffer crush injuries if they become trapped underneath or inside their vehicles. Whatever their cause, these kinds of injuries often prove to be fatal.
What are Crush Injuries?
A crush injury occurs when the extremities, or another part of the body, is compressed by a heavy object, resulting in muscle swelling and neurologic disturbances. The severity of the injury will depend partly on the area of the body that has been injured. For instance, when the crush injury affects the thorax or upper abdomen, a person could suffer from traumatic asphyxia, which occurs when oxygen intake and carbon dioxide exhalation are limited. Direct pressure can also decrease cardiac pump function, resulting in hemorrhage and potential cardiac arrest.
Crush injuries to the limbs, however, can still be dangerous and sometimes become more severe when the compressing object is removed. This complication occurs when no fluid is able to pass through the circulatory system to an organ or tissue, due to compression. During this period of limited circulation, toxic metabolites and intracellular electrolytes can accumulate in the tissue, which, when released upon removing the pressure, can cause cardiac dysrhythmias.
If left untreated, a crush injury could become severe enough to qualify as Crush Syndrome, which involves the systemic breakdown of muscle cells and the release of cell components into the body, resulting in potentially deadly problems, including acute renal failure (ARF). Whether a person develops Crush Syndrome depends on how long his or her body part was compressed. For instance, the chances of experiencing Crush Syndrome increase dramatically for victims who have been trapped under a heavy weight for at least one hour.
Delayed Crush Injuries
The majority of crush injuries leave some sort of external evidence, like bruising or cuts. Most of the damage, however, will actually be internal, which can make it a lot harder to diagnose and treat potentially life-threatening problems. Some crush injuries can develop hours or even days after the actual accident. These injuries often occur after the body has tried to deal with changes in fluid and pressure levels, but can no longer keep up, which in turn can lead to problems like:
- Acute Compartment Syndrome, which occurs when pressure in the muscles becomes so extreme that it keeps oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells, resulting in decreased blood flow; or
- Rhabdomyolysis, which occurs when the tissues in the muscles actually break down, releasing fiber content into the bloodstream, which then becomes caught in the kidneys, creating a barrier that prevents the kidneys from filtering a person’s blood.
These kinds of delayed crush injuries are extremely dangerous, as they often go undiagnosed until it is too late. Rhabdomyolysis, for instance, can lead to kidney failure and blood poisoning, both of which can be deadly.
Recovery After a Crush Injury
Crush injuries can have devastating consequences for victims, who, if not extracted and treated immediately, could end up losing their lives. In these cases, the surviving relatives of the victim could file a wrongful death claim on their loved one’s behalf, seeking compensation for accident-related losses, including:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages and benefits;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Emotional distress.
Who can be held liable for these losses depends on the type and cause of the accident in question. Most crush injuries occur in workplace accidents or as a result of a collision with a commercial vehicle. In these cases, anyone from an employer to a trucking company could be held liable for the victim’s injuries. For help investigating the cause of your own loved one’s fatal accident, reach out to our legal team today.
Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers
Losing a loved one because of an unexpected accident is one of the worst things that a person can experience. The ordeal, however, can become even more frustrating and complex when the accident was the result of someone else’s carelessness. Fortunately, it is possible to hold negligent people accountable for their actions by filing a wrongful death claim against them in court. To learn more about your own legal options following the untimely death of a loved one, please call the dedicated and compassionate Miami wrongful death lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein. You can reach us by phone at 305-371-2692 or via online message.