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Broken Ribs After Car Accident: What You Need To Know

May 18, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

Broken Ribs After Car Accident: What You Need To Know

Broken ribs (fractured ribs) after a car accident are typically very painful and will restrict activities of daily living for a period of time while they heal. But fractured ribs may also indicate a more serious injury requiring immediate medical attention. A cracked or fractured or a flail chest could puncture your lungs, interfere with your heart supplying blood to your body, or damage your internal organs. 

An experienced car accident attorney will help you protect your legal rights to compensation and economic damages and help you to recover the best possible settlement. If your broken ribs were caused from a car accident in Michigan, this will include pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault driver who caused the crash  and that resulted in your broken ribs. Depending on your level of restrictions and impairment, it will likely also include No-Fault wage loss benefits as well as additional No-Fault PIP benefits such as replacement services. Finally, an economic claim can be brought against the wrongdoer driver to cover excess and future medical bills and lost wages beyond the first three years of auto No-Fault wage loss.

To learn more about how much a settlement in your case may be worth, please check our car accident settlement calculator.

Pain and suffering compensation

You may be able to recover compensation for your pain and suffering from the at-fault driver who caused the crash that caused your ribs to be fractured, but under Michigan’s motor vehicle crash threshold law you will first be required to prove that the driver was negligent and that your fractured ribs caused you to suffer a serious impairment of body function.

Depending on the extent of your medical bills and lost wages and whether they are fully covered by the coverage limits in the policy through which you are claiming benefits, you may also be able to recover economic damages from the at-fault driver for excess and future medical expenses and wage loss.

No-Fault benefits

If you’re a Michigan resident and you’ve suffered broken ribs after a car accident in Michigan, then you may be able to recover No-Fault PIP insurance benefits to help you pay for your accident-related medical bills and for wages you were unable to earn before your fractured ribs prevented you from working.

To start the process, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible insurance company within one (1) year of your car crash. This is very important because if you fail to comply with the 1-year filing deadline, you will forfeit all of your legal rights to No-Fault benefits. That means you can’t request them or sue for them and if you do try to sue, the insurance company will be able to easily get your claim dismissed by the court.

Generally, the responsible insurance company that will be paying your No-Fault benefits will be your auto insurer or the insurer of your spouse or a relative who lives with you in your home. And if coverage is not available to you through any of those sources, then you can apply for benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan and an auto insurer will be assigned to your claim.

Can you break your ribs in a car accident?

You can break your ribs in a car accident. Fractured ribs resulting from a crash are frequently caused by: (1) your chest colliding with the steer wheel and column; (2) your chest striking the dashboard; and/or (3) the force exerted by your seatbelt against your chest at the moment of impact.

Symptoms of broken ribs after a car accident 

  • Pain
  • Painful bending or twisting
  • Tenderness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty with deep breathing
  • Tightness in your chest
  • It hurts to cough
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness

Types of broken ribs after a car accident

The most common types of broken ribs after a car accident include: (1) sprained ribs; (2) bruised ribs; (3) cracked ribs (involving a hairline fracture); (4) broken ribs (involving fractured or shattered ribs); and/or (5) flail chest (which is where three or more adjacent ribs are fractured in at least two places).

Why are fractured ribs considedred a serious injury afer a crash?

Fractured ribs after a crash is considered a serious injury because they can puncture or otherwise damage a victim’s lungs, aorta (carrying blood from your heart to your circulatory system), kidneys, spleen and/or liver. Pneumonia is also common among victims who resist coughing because of the extreme pain.


Your doctor may recommend that you undergo one or more of the following diagnostic tests to determine whether and the extent to which you have suffered fractured ribs after a crash: (1) X-rays; (2) CT scan; (3) MRI; and/or (4) a bone scan.

Treatment for broken ribs after a car accident

Depending on the severity of your fractured ribs, your doctor’s recommended treatment could include: (1) internal fixation surgery (surgically inserting plates, screws, pins and wires to hold your ribs in place); (2) bone grafting surgery; (3) physical therapy; and (4) pain medications.

Injured and need legal help after a crash? Michigan Auto Law can help

If you suffered broken ribs after a car accident and you have questions about what to do and what your legal rights are, you can call us toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We will answer your questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages, auto No-Fault insurance PIP benefits, and settlements in cases like yours. There is absolutely no cost or obligation. You can also get help from an experienced injury attorney by visiting our contact page or chat feature on our website.

Broken Ribs After Car Accident: What You Need To Know

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