Crushing injuries are not common among the general population, but there is one industry in which they are surprisingly common: construction. The fourth leading cause of workplace accidents on construction sites is being caught in or between machines, vehicles, or other large objects.
When crushing injuries occur, they can produce long-term disabilities, including permanent organ damage, that may require ongoing medical treatment, physical therapy, and even an organ transplant.
Your Body Tissues
Your skin, muscles, and bones form the layers that make up most of your body. The skin provides a water-tight layer to keep pathogens out and bodily fluids in.
Below the skin sits a layer of fat and connective tissue. The fat insulates your body, while the connective tissues hold the skin to your muscles, which strengthen and move your body, attaching to your bones via tendons to hold up your body.
The skeleton consists of rigid bones that have a mineral structure that gives them the strength and stiffness to support your weight. Ligaments hold your bones to each other. They guide the motion of your joints by preventing them from bending in the wrong direction.
Blood vessels pass through the aforementioned layer of fat and tissue, as do your nerves, which carry signals between your brain and your body. These signals include motor signals to control your muscles and organs, as well as touch sensations that travel from nerve endings in your skin to your brain.
What Is a Crushing Injury?
Crushing injuries are sustained when immense pressure (a force exerted over an area) is applied to any part of the body. The pressure might only cover a small area, leading to your toe getting crushed when a car runs over it, for instance. Still, the pressure could also cover a much larger area: Being caught in a building collapse could crush your entire body.
Crush injuries range in force and duration as well. A relatively brief application of pressure in an accident where you are trapped for hours can produce a crushing injury. But on the opposite extreme, you could be crushed by a box that weighs a hundred pounds or a bulldozer that weighs dozens of tons in an instant.
What Can Cause Crushing Injuries?
Crushing injuries can occur in many ways, including the following:
Becoming Trapped Between Objects
A common cause of crushing injuries is becoming stuck between objects. In many cases, one or both objects move toward each other, creating a crushing force. Thus, you could be crushed in a car accident when one vehicle backs into you and crushes you against another.
You can also end up trapped and subsequently crushed between fixed objects, often by falling into a narrow passage, like a chimney or utility trench. Your weight, combined with the fixed walls, can produce crush injuries all the same.
Being Caught in Machines
Another common cause of crushing injuries involves being caught or pulled into factory machines. Most include safety features to reduce the risk of such scenarios, but employers may disable these safety features to speed up production. These safety features can also malfunction and introduce the risk of a user being caught in the machine.
Factory machinery is often more than powerful enough to crush you in just one cycle. However, you can suffer even more severe injuries if you get caught in a machine that repeatedly crushes you until someone else shuts it down and pulls you out.
Getting Crushed Under a Large Weight
You can suffer a crushing injury when something heavy does any of the following:
- Falls on you
- Tips over and onto you
- Runs you over
For example, you could suffer a crushing injury as a heavy box falls on you while you shop in a warehouse store or similar premises. In another hypothetical scenario, your motorcycle could crush your leg when it falls onto you in a motorcycle accident.
Becoming Compressed in a Collapse
Structural collapses can also cause crushing injuries. A collapse could happen in a trench, tunnel, or building and may require some time to clear. In the meantime, victims may suffer both crushing injuries and suffocation due to the intense weight compressing their chests.
What Are Common Crushing Injuries and Complications?
When your body is crushed, you experience injuries that arise due to the size of the compressed area. With that said, some common medical issues that can arise due to crushing forces are as follows:
A comminuted fracture, also called a shattered bone, occurs when a bone breaks in at least three spots. As a result, each of these bone fragments will need to be reconstructed by a doctor using screws and plates.
If any sections of your bone are missing, doctors can try to replace them with bone grafts taken from elsewhere in your body or a donor cadaver. If the bone has suffered too much damage, however, your doctor may recommend amputation.
Crushing forces can stretch and tear your blood vessels or even cause them to outright collapse. Every cell in your body requires oxygen delivered by the blood. But when blood vessels are damaged, the cells cannot perform cell metabolism, and you can suffer tissue death.
Doctors can perform grafts to repair damaged blood vessels, but in a crushing injury, you might sustain extensive vascular damage that doctors simply cannot repair to restore circulation.
Nerves transmit signals using a combination between ionic charges and chemical neurotransmitters. When nerves are stretched, compressed, or severed, however, they cannot carry signals correctly.
As a result, you might experience symptoms below the level of your nerve injury, such as:
- Numbness and tingling
- Loss of dexterity
Damaged nerves do not heal. Though doctors can sometimes graft replacement nerves to replace the damaged section, the nerves will remain damaged forever if they cannot be repaired surgically.
Crush syndrome occurs when you suffer massive tissue death due to a crush injury. The dead cells and their contents get picked up as waste by the blood, which circulates to the kidneys, where the dead cells get filtered. The kidneys can become overwhelmed by the volume of waste products in your blood and shut down.
How Can You Get Compensation For a Crushing Injury?
You can pursue compensation for a crushing injury that resulted from someone else’s negligent or intentional acts. If you can prove liability, you can pursue compensation for both your economic and non-economic losses, which means you can seek money for your medical costs, income losses, and pain and suffering.
You can pursue workers’ compensation for crushing injuries suffered while you were on the job. These benefits cover your medical costs and part of your lost income. However, you cannot receive payment for pain and suffering in a workers’ comp claim.
A crushing injury can cause several long-term medical issues and disabilities. Contact Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss the compensation you can seek for your crushing injury.