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Sternal fractures are common in motor vehicle accidents

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Blog, Personal Injury

Wearing a seatbelt can save your life in a car accident, but you may still sustain painful injuries.

A broken sternum is a common car accident injury. While it is rarely life-threatening, you may face a long and painful road to recovery.

What causes sternal fractures?

Typically, a sternal fracture results from a blow to the chest. Most commonly, these fractures occur in car accidents due to colliding with the steering wheel, airbag or seatbelt.

Older adults and people with osteoporosis are at greater risk for sternal fractures.

Is a broken sternum serious?

A fractured sternum can make breathing extremely painful. If pain prevents you from coughing or breathing deeply, you may develop a chest infection. Because moving your arms is often painful with this injury, you may develop shoulder or back pain.

In rare cases, the broken bone can cause bruising to the heart or lungs. A fracture that does not heal properly may require surgery. However, most people recover without surgery.

How long does recovery take?

The average recovery time for a sternal fracture without surgery is around 10 weeks. Surgical recovery generally takes longer.

During your recovery, your doctor will likely recommend rest and over-the-counter painkillers. Physical therapy and breathing exercises might help manage potential complications.

Who pays for sternal fracture treatment?

Because Florida is a “no-fault” state, you must file a claim under your Personal Injury Protection policy. Your PIP insurance can compensate you for some of your medical expenses and lost wages.

Generally, you can only file a claim against the other driver if your injuries are “significant and permanent.” Most sternal fractures are not severe enough to meet these criteria.

A sternal fracture is a painful injury, but with prompt medical treatment, most people make a full recovery.