When we think about blunt trauma, we often think about someone being attacked with a dull weapon (such as a baseball bat). But blunt trauma can result from crashing a vehicle, falling from a ladder, or even falling into a body of water.
In this article, we’ll take a look at blunt trauma injuries, including the effects of blunt force trauma and how these serious types of injuries are treated under personal injury law.
Blunt trauma (sometimes called “non-penetrating trauma” or “blunt force trauma”) is an injury to the body caused by direct contact with a dull object or surface.
Blunt trauma is distinguishable from penetrating trauma, which involves an object (such as a knife or bullet) piercing the body.
Blunt trauma is most often the result of motor vehicle crashes.
When a vehicle comes to a complete stop after striking another vehicle or a fixed object, the occupants continue forward until they come in contact with some part of the automobile (for example, the airbag, steering wheel, dashboard, front windshield, or back of the front seat). In the case of a pedestrian or motorcycle accident, blunt force trauma may occur when a moving car comes into contact with a person who is not in a car.
Other common causes of blunt trauma include:
Blunt trauma is classified as an injury itself, but it can lead to other conditions. These conditions can broadly be categorized as follows:
The severity of blunt trauma depends on the amount of kinetic energy (energy of motion) transferred and the tissue to which the energy is transferred. To put it another way:
A large force applied to a sizable area over several minutes will result in vast tissue damage, which increases the chance of death. On the other hand, a smaller force applied to a smaller area will result in less tissue damage.
Blunt trauma is particularly dangerous when it affects your internal organs.
When blunt trauma is caused by a car accident, the trauma is most likely to affect the organs within your abdomen. This generally occurs when your abdomen strikes the steering wheel, belt system, airbag, or another interior part of the vehicle.
Blunt abdominal trauma can cause damage to the spleen, liver, kidneys, bladder, diaphragm, and large and small intestines. Injuries to these internal organs can lead to hemorrhage (release of blood from damaged blood vessels), which may result in hypotension, a decrease in blood pressure, or hypovolemic shock.
The brain is another organ commonly affected by blunt trauma. A bump, blow, or jolt to your head can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is defined as a disruption in the normal function of the brain.
Whether or not you can file a personal injury lawsuit after suffering blunt trauma depends on the cause of the blunt trauma. Generally speaking, to file a lawsuit, someone else must be responsible (at fault) for your accident.
For example, you probably can’t file a lawsuit if you get drunk and drive into a tree (although you may be able to file an insurance claim depending on your coverage), but you probably can file a lawsuit if someone rear-ends you and your head strikes the steering wheel.
If your blunt trauma was caused by someone else’s carelessness, you can file a negligence lawsuit against them.
To prove negligence, you must establish that:
Accidents that result in negligence claims include:
If someone intentionally causes your injury, it’s called an intentional tort.
For example, if someone shoots you or hits you with a baseball bat, they have committed an intentional tort. In addition to the criminal action that may be brought, you can seek damages by filing a civil lawsuit.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides financial compensation to employees who are injured on the job. For example, if a construction worker falls from scaffolding and suffers blunt trauma, they may be able to receive compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What’s more, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy in most states. This means that if you’re injured on the job, you can’t sue your employer but must instead file a workers’ compensation claim.
The goal of a personal injury claim is to make the plaintiff “whole” again. To put it another way, personal injury lawsuits are supposed to return the plaintiff to their pre-accident condition, financially speaking.
In most states, you can recover the following damages after sustained blunt trauma: