On this page, our car accident lawyers look at what internal bleeding is, why it occurs, and the potential settlement value of personal injury cases involving internal bleeding.
Internal bleeding (also called hemorrhaging) is simply a type of bleeding that occurs on the inside of the body from torn or damaged internal blood vessels. Internal bleeding can come in a variety of types and degrees of severity.
Minor cases of internal bleeding frequently occur when localized blood vessels burst just underneath the skin. This type of internal bleeding just causes a small red spot on the skin that goes away. Other types of internal bleed tend to be much more serious and even life-threatening.
Uncontrolled internal hemorrhages are the leading cause of preventable death in trauma patients. Most of these deaths are from motor vehicle accidents. Internal bleeding is not a medical condition. It is always the result of an underlying cause.
The heart circulates blood to various organs and parts of the body through a complex network of blood vessels. Blood vessels are like an internal blood subway system that includes arteries, veins, and capillaries.
Internal bleeding occurs when something damages the out walls of these blood vessels causing them to rupture or tear triggering bleeding. When the damage to the blood vessel is comparatively minor the blood will clot and stop the internal bleeding much the same way that an external cut heals.
More extensive damage to blood vessels will not resolve itself with blood clotting. This means that the ruptured blood vessel will continue to bleed into the internal body spaces and organs.
Internal bleeding can sometimes be the result of medical conditions which weaken the blood vessel walls and cause them to tear. However, most cases of internal bleeding are the direct result of external physical trauma. Several different categories of physical trauma can trigger internal bleeding:
- Blunt Force: blunt force trauma is external physical trauma that does not pierce the skin or otherwise penetrate the body - such as being struck with a baseball bat or other blunt object.
- Penetration Trauma: penetrating trauma is external physical trauma the punctures the skin and muscle and penetrates the internal body space and organs - such as getting stabbed with a knife or impaled on something sharp and long. This sort of trauma almost always causes some level of internal bleeding as blood vessels are often cut clean by the penetrating object.
- Deceleration Injuries: a particular type of internal trauma that occurs when the body is moving and suddenly stops (but doesn't necessarily impact anything). Deceleration injuries are what our accident attorneys see in auto accidents when a moving car hits something and sudden stops. When this occurs the body is violently thrust forward until the momentum is stopped (often by a seatbelt or airbag). When this happens blood vessels can be pinched or squeezed against bones and rupture causing internal bleeding.
- Orthopedic Fractures: broken bones and orthopedic fracture injuries will always result in some degree of internal bleeding. Blood cells are generated in the bone marrow so bones are feed with ample blood circulation. Anytime a bone fractures it usually ruptures these blood supply vessels triggering significant internal hemorrhaging.
- Compression Injuries: compression injuries are closely related to blunt force trauma. Compression injuries occur when the force of some external impact causes an internal organ to get compressed or squeezed between 2 surfaces. This compression can frequently damage the blood vessels which supply the organ resulting in internal bleeding.
Unlike external bleeding from a cut, internal bleeding does not have any clear outward symptoms because the actual bleeding is not visible. This is one of the reasons that internal bleeding is dangerous - you may not even realize it is happening until it becomes very serious.
Blood is critical to the body function and its organs so when internal bleeding begins to disrupt blood circulation it will eventually cause systemic symptoms throughout the body. Symptoms of moderate internal bleeding typically include the following:
- Dizziness or lead-headed feeling
- Intense headache
- Dark-colored diarrhea
- Unexplained weakness or sudden exhaustion
- Aching pain in joint and muscles
- Low blood pressure
- Mental confusion
- Blurred or abnormal vision
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain in the chest and shortness of breath
- Blood in the urine
When internal bleeding is very severe from a major trauma, you may see a loss of consciousness, organ failure, or death within minutes or even seconds.
Internal bleeding is often the result of physical trauma suffered in auto accidents. Declaration injury is the most common type of physical trauma experienced in a car accident. High-impact collisions can also result in broken bones, blunt force trauma, and compression-type injuries.
All of these common car accident traumas have the potential to cause internal bleeding. Aside from traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding is probably the most dangerous consequence that can result from a car accident.Internal Bleeding Settlements and Verdicts
Listed below are recent verdicts and reported settlements from car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury cases in which internal bleeding was the primary physical injury. Does this tell you the settlement value of your internal bleeding from a car accident claim? Of course not. But this gives you information to be used in conjunction with other tools to better understand the settlement range of your claim.
- Vincent v. Schmidt (California 2018) $382,000: The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle northbound on I-5 near San Diego when the defendant suddenly crossed into his lane of traffic and hit his motorcycle. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered injuries to his neck; spine; and internal organs which resulted in internal bleeding that required numerous hospitalizations. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $382,000 which included $300,000 for past and future pain and suffering.
- C.A. v. Janalino (Nevada 2018) $297,500: An 8-year old plaintiff was in the backseat of his mother's car when the defendant made an illegal U-turn and collided with them. As a result of the accident he suffered an abdominal wall tear resulting in internal bleeding and requiring surgery. He also claimed to suffer back injuries. The case eventually settled before trial for $297,500.
- Feltman v. Butterfield (Alabama 2017) $375,000: The plaintiff was crossing the street inside a crosswalk when she was hit by a pickup truck driven by the defendant. Plaintiff's alleged injuries as a result of the accident included internal bleeding, a fractured right wrist, and various cuts and bruises. The driver's negligence was admitted but the case went to trial on the issue of his employer's liability. The jury awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages totaling $375,000.
- DeRusso v. Grant-Martin (New York 2017) $250,000: A plaintiff in his early 60s was struck head-on at 30 mph when defendant crossed into the opposite lane of traffic after failing to stop for cars ahead. The accident fractured all of the ribs on the right side of the plaintiff's body and he also suffered significant internal bleeding. Liability was not in dispute and the case quickly settled for policy limits of $250,000.
- Portes v. City of Los Angeles (California 2017) $120,000: The plaintiff was broadsided by a city fire department truck. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered internal bleeding as well as a sprained knee and dislocated rib. Liability was in dispute but the case settled without going to trial for a total of $120,000.
- S.S. v. Burris (New York 2017) $37,500: A nine-year-old boy was walking in a parking lot when he was struck by the vehicle of a Progressive insured as he was backing out. As a result the plaintiff allegedly suffered a broken nose and an abdominal compression injury that caused internal bleeding. Liability was admitted but damages were in dispute. The case eventually settled before trial for $37,500. The insurance company for the defendant was
- J.R. v. Alanbaner (New York 2017) $25,000: A 4-year-old boy was crossing the street when he was hit by the defendant in his truck. As a result of the accident the boy suffered injuries include a ruptured bladder, lacerated spleen, and internal bleeding. The extent of the plaintiff's alleged injuries were in dispute and the parties agreed to settle the case for $25,000. This settlement is hard to get your mind around, right?
If you were in a car accident that caused internal bleeding or other serious physical injuries, you may be entitled to get significant financial compensation from the responsible driver. The Maryland car accident attorneys at Miller & Zois can help make that happen, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation. (Outside of Maryland and D.C., give us a call. Our attorneys work with the best lawyers around the country.)