Suffered a Punctured Lung in a Car Accident? Here's How to Recover

As a premier car accident attorney in Orange County, we understand that serious injuries don’t just hurt physically—they can devastate victims emotionally and financially as well. We’re here to make sure you get the compensation you need to recover. Contact us for help.

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If you’re a regular driver, there’s a good chance you’ll be involved in an accident at some point in your life. Fortunately, most accidents are minor and don’t have life-upending consequences. 

However, that’s not always the case. Serious car wrecks can result in catastrophic injuries that impact victims physically, emotionally, and financially. Some result in injuries that require victims to undergo extensive treatments, surgeries, and therapies. Still, others result in permanent disability and even death. 

One of the more serious injuries that can result from a car accident is a punctured lung. Even after they’ve recovered, an injured person may be unable to use their body in the way they used to, or they may be saddled with crippling medical debt. These consequences are always hard to bear, but they can be especially difficult to carry if you didn’t cause the wreck. 

At Case Barnett Law, we don’t think it’s fair for accident victims to suffer the consequences of someone else’s careless actions. If you sustained serious injuries, such as a punctured lung, car accident attorneys at our firm may be able to help you get financial support to recover. Keep reading to learn more. 

Need help now? Our Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer may be able to secure compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage and more. Give us a call at (949) 409-0055 to explore your options with a legal expert. 

What Is a Punctured Lung? 

You don’t need to know anything about injuries to know that a punctured lung is not a good thing. However, this type of injury isn’t exactly what it seems. 

A punctured lung (the medical term for which is pneumothorax) is actually a collapsed lung. It happens when air leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall and pushes against the lung. Pressure from the air can cause the whole lung or part of the lung to collapse. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Punctured Lung?

Several things can cause the lung to collapse, including underlying conditions and medical procedures. However, in terms of car accidents, this injury is typically caused by a blunt or penetrating blow to the chest—a relatively common occurrence in serious wrecks—that causes a broken rib or other severe trauma

A punctured lung isn’t just extremely painful; it’s also potentially life-threatening. That’s why it’s critical to know the symptoms and warning signs associated with this injury. If you or a loved one are in an accident and sustain any type of trauma to the chest, check for the following punctured lung symptoms:

  • Chest pain that gets worse with breathing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath or abnormal breathing
  • Chest tightness and difficulty breathing in
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Pale or blue skin
  • Soreness primarily on one side of the chest

If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical assistance immediately. If you’re unable to dial 911 after a serious car accident, ask a bystander to do so.

Treatment for a Punctured Lung

The best treatment for a punctured lung will depend on the severity of the trauma. A very small pneumothorax may be able to heal on its own, but it will likely still require oxygen treatment. 

For severe cases of pneumothorax, a physician will need to place a chest tube through your ribs and into the cavity surrounding the lungs in order to help drain the air. In addition to air drainage, this tube may be used to help re-inflate your lung. In severe cases, physicians may need to leave the chest tube in place for several days before it is able to expand the lung.

Once you’ve experienced a collapsed lung, you may be at an increased risk for additional collapses. For repeated pneumothorax, your doctor may suggest surgery. Additionally, a large puncture wound to the outer cavity would require surgery, as it is unlikely that lunge tissue could close and repair itself without intervention. 

Recovering From a Punctured Lung

Injury victims who’ve sustained a punctured lung may take between six and eight weeks to fully recover. However, recovery time is highly dependent on the severity of the injury and how quickly steps were taken to mitigate the injury’s damage. 

In the event of a punctured lung, car accident victims may require the following actions in order to recover:

  • Continued observation. In cases of a partially collapsed lung where the affected area is small, injury victims may follow-up with their healthcare providers to scan for signs of heart or breathing problems. 
  • Supplemental oxygen. If the area affected by your punctured lung is small, your provider may administer extra oxygen and continue monitoring your condition until you are stable. 
  • Aspiration by needle. In this procedure, a doctor uses a syringe to remove some of the air trapped in the pleural space. Afterward, they may suggest chest tube drainage.
  • Drainage. In the event of a larger pneumothorax, your healthcare provider may insert a hollow tube in your chest to drain air from the pleural space. After keeping the tube in for a couple of days or more, your lung will likely re-expand and heal. 
  • Pleurodesis. If your physician fears your lung may collapse again, they may suggest pleurodesis. During this procedure, the physician makes an incision in the chest to insert a tube and then administers chemicals to attach the lung to the chest cavity (eliminating the air space that caused it to collapse).
  • Surgery. If the above efforts are unsuccessful or if your lung keeps collapsing, a surgeon may conduct surgery to remove certain lung tissue or perform chemical pleurodesis. 

After these treatments, it’s essential to adhere to aftercare instructions outlined by your doctor. These include taking medications as prescribed, staying active while still resting sufficiently, sleeping in an elevated position, avoiding unnecessary chest pressure, avoiding cigarettes, sudden changes in air pressure and driving, watching for signs of recurrence, and more. 

Our Punctured Lung Car Accident Attorneys Can Help!

If an automobile accident caused your punctured lung, our Costa Mesa car accident attorney team from Case Barnett Law may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve for recovery. Concerned you can’t afford our services? Don’t worry—we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay a dime until and unless we win. 

Ready to get started? Give us a call at (949) 409-0055 or visit us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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