The spleen is a small organ about the size of a baseball that sits under the left side of your rib cage. The spleen acts as a filter for your blood and releases white blood cells that help fight infection. When it is ruptured, it can leak and bleed profusely.What is a Ruptured Spleen?
A ruptured spleen refers occurs when your spleen is compromised by a tear or break in its outer casing. The spleen is kind of delicate compared to other internal organs in the body. The inside of the spleen is held together by a fibrous outer shell or casing. When this outer casing is damaged by external force it easily tears and breaks open. This is what is referred to as rupture of the spleen. Once ruptured, the spleen and its outer casing will not heal on its own and is very difficult to surgically repair.
Most ruptured spleens are caused by auto accidents. You also see ruptured spleens in leukemia patients or from people with mononucleosis (which is why doctors say you should not exercise vigorously with mono).
In treating a ruptured spleen, the best therapy is intermittent compression stockings. With patients who have continued bleeding from the spleen and cannot be stabilized, surgery is the often the only option.Why Do Car Accidents Frequently Cause Ruptured Spleens?
Our attorneys often see ruptured spleens in car accident cases. Why? The fragile nature of the spleen combined with its location under the rib cage makes it particularly vulnerable to external force or trauma. Any sort of forceful impact or external blow to the left side of your abdomen can potentially rupture the spleen. Car accidents are the leading cause of splenic rupture.
There is a simple, somewhat obvious reason for this. A car accident frequently results in blunt force to your abdomen. The shoulder part of a driver's seatbelt crosses directly above left abdomen where the spleen is. In a head-on collision, the seatbelt itself can often be the source of the pressure that ruptures the spleen. Deployed airbags, steering wheels, collapsed doors or frames can also deliver impactful blows to the abdomen and tear the outer casing of the spleen.
The primary symptom of a ruptured spleen following a car accident will be acute pain in the upper left abdominal area. A lot of times a ruptured spleen will also be accompanied by related external injuries, such as fractured ribs, which may cause pain in the same area. If the spleen is ruptured, however, the pain will often radiate internally to the left shoulder area. This is because the internal bleeding of a ruptured spleen can irritate the phrenic nerve which originates in the neck and runs through the shoulder. A ruptured spleen may also cause confusion and lightheadedness.
Sometimes, ruptured spleen malpractice cases result from these accidents. A ruptured spleen classically presents with pain in the abdomen and perhaps flank and back. Doctors need to be concerned about the possibility of a ruptured spleen with these symptoms and Include in their differential diagnosis abdominal trauma or an intra-abdominal process such as a ruptured spleen. You sometimes also see dizziness when getting up to stand or walk due to low blood flow (hypotension). The failure to diagnose and treat a ruptured spleen can cause real harm, including death. In Maryland, this can be either a malpractice claim or claimed as a part of the motor vehicle accident claim. If there are no insurance coverage issues, you are better off bringing this malpractice claim as a part of your auto tort claim. This is because you do not need to prove the doctor's negligence, only that it was an injury secondary to the accident.
If your spleen was ruptured in a car accident and had to be removed in a splenectomy you might be wondering how much compensation to which you may be entitled. Summarized below are a handful of reported settlements and verdicts from car accident cases where the plaintiff's primary injury was a ruptured spleen. Will this tell you the settlement value of your ruptured spleen case? It will not. Our lawyers cannot predict the value of your case by giving you some formula or matrix. But in combination with other tools, it can give you a far better idea of the settlement value of your claim.
J.M. Pro Ami v. Morgan (New York 2016) $100,000: 8-year old plaintiff was a passenger on his stepfather's motorcycle when it was involved in a single-car accident. The plaintiff broke his arm and ruptured his spleen. The case settled for $100,000.
Flores v. Boyle (Texas 2016) $645,000: Defendant was driving a Safelite auto glass repair vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment complex when he ran over a 3-year old girl. The girl suffered a fractured pelvis and ruptured spleen that had to be removed. The case settled for $645,000.
Melvin v. Raab (New Jersey 2014) $375,000: Plaintiff is a 2-year old passenger in a vehicle that slammed into a tree, suffered a ruptured spleen, fractured ribs, and lost a tooth. The spleen was surgically repaired with a coil and did not have to be removed. The case settled for $375,000.
Zubin v. Zenobia (New York 2008) $575,000: Plaintiff, a 49-year old accountant, was getting out of his parked car on a busy street when the defendant hit his car from behind. The accident ruptured his spleen and he underwent a splenectomy and alleged injury to his liver. Defendant admitted liability but contested damages. Specifically, defense counsel claimed that with medication plaintiff could lead a normal life without his spleen. One day into the trial the case settled for $575,000.
If you recently suffered a ruptured spleen in a car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Miller & Zois to discuss whether you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injury. Call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free online consultation.