When a part of the body is stuck between two objects, the pain can be debilitating. However, the biggest dangers come from the damage pressure can cause to the rest of the body. In some cases, the external injuries appear small but the muscles may have released toxic substances into the body that cause kidney failure and even death.
An individual can suffer a crush injury nearly anywhere — whether it’s something millions of people are involved in each year like a car crash or a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence like a building collapse from poor maintenance.
But, those who experienced crush injuries at the fault of others may have some recourse. Learn more about crush injuries and how some victims may be eligible to receive compensation through a lawsuit.
A crush injury is defined by trauma resulting from a force that compresses or puts excessive pressure on a part of the body. The injury is often experienced as being trapped beneath a heavy or large object, but it can also happen from pressure within the body.
Crush injuries commonly occur during war or natural disasters like earthquakes. They can also happen in industrial accidents or “following periods of unconsciousness from drug intoxication, anaesthesia, trauma or cerebral events,” according to an article published in the journal Extra Injury1.
These types of injuries mostly affect the lower limbs and the upper limbs, but the torso can also be affected.
Crush injuries can happen in all types of situations. Here are some situations where a crush injury might occur:
When people think of crush injuries, they often imagine a person pinned between two cars after a crash on the highway. However, a crash injury can be quick and severe. For example, a bicyclist may have been crushed against a building only for a split second after being hit by a car but could still suffer from a crush injury.
Crush injuries are most common in locations with heavy machinery like storage warehouses, construction sites, and demolition sites. These types of injuries can also happen at home. For example, an unsecured dresser could fall over and crush someone’s leg.
If a person wasn’t crushed severely with outward injuries, it is often assumed that the crush injury is not life-threatening. But, crush injuries are among the most deceptively deadly injuries because they often lead to more severe complications if not treated quickly and effectively.
After the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified kidney failure as one of the most urgent health concerns for survivors2. The reason was traumatic rhabdomyolysis, a condition that develops from a crush injury.
Rhabdomyolysis, also known as crush syndrome, occurs when muscles have been crushed for an extended period of time. The skeletal muscles begin to die from a decreased oxygen supply. Those dying muscle cells release toxic substances like potassium, myoglobin, purines, and phosphate into the surrounding tissue.
Once the object is removed from the muscle and the blood begins to flow again, the toxins circulate throughout the body. Renal failure and cardiac arrest can follow.
Compartment syndrome is another condition that can develop from a crush injury and can even be secondary to traumatic rhabdomyolysis. Acute compartment syndrome is when blood or fluid accumulates within a group of muscles called compartments from an injury like compression. Because the compartments do not expand easily, the area receives inadequate levels of blood. This can result in tissue damage and death.
How a crush injury is treated depends on the type and severity. This is why it is important to receive medical attention as quickly as possible to diagnose the injury right away. For minor cases, a crush injury may only cause a few open wounds that require cleaning and disinfectant. Applying ice to the affected areas of the body also helps treat minor crush injuries.
Those who develop crush syndrome may begin to notice some muscle weakness and swelling of the limbs. Doctors will need to treat a victim with round-the-clock hydration and dialysis if they develop kidney problems. In the most severe cases, amputations may be necessary to prevent renal failure and greater damage to the body.
In those who develop acute compartment syndrome, surgery is necessary3. A surgeon will need to make an incision into the compartment of the affected area to release excessive pressure. If the condition becomes too severe, doctors may need to amputate the limb to prevent toxins from spreading throughout the body.
A severe crush injury can be devastating. Not only can it cause pain and suffering but it can also lead to permanent disfigurement and potentially life-threatening conditions. However, there may be some recourse.
If the victim suffered the crush injury due to someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible. A lawsuit could help a victim receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Depending on the situation, punitive damages could also be awarded to help prevent the wrongdoing from happening again.
Whether you were crushed beneath a car in an accident or got your arm caught in a piece of machinery at work, contact a qualified attorney to find out more about your legal options.
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