You’ve been sitting in the emergency room waiting room for over an hour. Your daughter called you at work and told you that your wife and son had been in a car wreck and were rushed to the hospital. You immediately left work, swung by your house to pick up your daughter and raced to the hospital. Since then you’ve gotten little to no information about their conditions. A nurse informed you that your wife was conscious but undergoing tests for a possible dislocated shoulder and that your son was in surgery.
After what felt like a lifetime, their doctor came out and explained that your wife was doing fine despite the fact that she had several minor chest fractures, a broken wrist, and a dislocated shoulder. Your son was stable but his injuries were much worse. He had to undergo surgery for a severely crushed collarbone, and will have to remain at the hospital for at least a week.
How could this have happened? How did they both wind up suffering shoulder injuries?
Collision Effects That Can Result in a Broken Collarbone
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that bruised, fractured, and broken collarbones are some of the most common injuries suffered in traffic accidents. They suggest that the reason why collarbones are at such high injury risk is due to location. When sitting in a vehicle, your chest and shoulders are aligned with many potentially dangerous objects. In addition, your center of gravity is higher, so when a car crashes into you, the force of the collision is focused on your chest and shoulders, increasing the potential for stress fractures.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that the most common causes of clavicle injuries during car accidents result from the following:
- Crushing impact force. The sheer force of a collision can cause your shoulders to snap forward, similar to whiplash. Depending on the amount of force exerted on your shoulders, jerking can cause small fractures in your clavicle.
- Steering wheel contact. When a collision causes your upper body to jerk forward, the force of the jerk could cause you to violently ram your shoulders into the hard steering column. This additional impact can shatter your collarbone.
- Smashing into the dashboard. Although you don’t have to worry about the steering wheel when seated in the passenger seat, slamming into the dashboard can have the same effect as slamming into the steering wheel.
- Airbag force. Airbags are designed to restrain the force of a driver coming toward it by at least 30 mph. When deployed, most airbags exert a force up to 2,000 pounds at a rate of 200 mph in order to keep the passenger from flying forward. Although this is greatly effective and has saved countless lives, it only takes 25 pounds of pressure to crack a bone. Therefore, although the airbag deployment will reflect you from forward forces, the bag’s force can easily snap your clavicle.
- Crushing seat belt pressure. Seat belts are another safety feature that will save your life, but can cause serious injury. The shoulder strap, which secures your upper body from collision forces, lays directly over your collarbone. When it restrains you during a collision, it applies a tremendous amount of pressure on your clavicle—it only takes 25 pounds of pressure to break a bone. Therefore, although the restraint will keep you secure, it could also cause severe damage to your collarbone.
Broken Collarbone Treatment Options
No matter what causes the break, a broken collarbone can be severely painful and extremely dangerous. This is why it is important to make sure you seek medical attention immediately in order to care for the fracture. Treatment will unfortunately be long, painful, and potentially expensive—in some cases surgery may be required—but essential for recovery.
If you’ve recently been a victim of a car accident where you suffered from a broken collarbone or shoulder damage, you may be entitled to treatment compensation. Call us today for a free consultation and review of your case.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of their collision risks. Use your social media to share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent crash.