Bruising and Contusions from Accidents

There are a number of ways that bruises and contusions can result from a car accident, including:

  • Striking the steering wheel, dashboard, or wreckage
  • Forceful impact against deployed airbags and constricted seatbelts

It is always wise to seek a professional evaluation if you are bruised in a Dallas car accident, even if your initial injuries seem relatively minor. This medical record will be particularly valuable should your treatment cost much more than expected, prompting you to pursue your legal right to sue. The Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm offers free consultations if you were hurt through little to no fault of your own and feel concerned about how you’ll cover your medical expenses.

Types of Bruises from Car Accidents

Bruises from car accidents run the gamut from mild to severe, and may include:

  • A bruised sternum (breastbone) can result in pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the middle of the chest.
  • Myocardial contusion refers to a bruised heart, which may feel like tenderness, but can be dangerous.
  • “Battles sign” bruising behind the ears may signal a skull fracture.
  • “Racoon eyes” bruising around the eyes can also indicate a skull fracture.
  • “Cullen’s sign” bruising around the belly button may indicate emergency abdominal rupturing.
  • “Grey Turner’s” bruising in the lower back/flank can indicate spleen or liver bleeding.
  • “Seatbelt sign” chest bruising can indicate damage to the ribs, heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, spleen, etc.
  • Arm and leg bruising can indicate damaged muscles, bones, tendons, or ligaments.

The skin is the body’s largest organ. Bruising provides quick clues that “surface injuries” may be more serious than they seem.

Potential Complications of Contusions from Car Crashes

Contusions from a car crash can lead to serious complications, such as:

Active bleeding

Uncontrolled hemorrhaging can lead to organ failure, seizures, coma, and death. Car accidents can cause Traumatic Brain Injuries with brain contusions, which are particularly at risk for active bleeding episodes. If you have hit your head or endured substantial whiplash in a motor vehicle collision, you should always be evaluated by a professional.

Acute compartment syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a painful and potentially dangerous condition caused by pressure buildup from internal bleeding and tissue swelling, which impedes blood flow and nourishment delivery to muscles and nerves. Symptoms include severe pain, pins and needles sensation, and weakness. Emergency surgery may be needed to relieve pressure in the affected area.

Excessive hematomas

Blood vessel trauma can cause a bruise to become excessively large. These bruises can take several months to heal and may require drainage if the symptoms do not abate.


Blood may pool in the space between the lung and chest wall when the heart, arteries, or veins are severely bruised. Diagnosis requires an ultrasound. Blood, trapped air, and pooled fluid will need to be drained through a tube in most cases.

Myocardial contusion

Extreme blows to the heart can cause a blood clot, heart attack, or severed coronary artery. Internal bleeding, pain, and tenderness in the mid-chest should be evaluated by a professional. Treatments may include blood drainage from the heart, surgery to repair damaged blood vessels, chest tube placement to prevent fluid buildup, or placement of a pacemaker to regulate an irregular heartbeat.

Myositis ossificans

Excessive and prolonged bleeding can cause the tissue to calcify and harden, causing tenderness, range of motion loss, and the need for rehabilitation therapy.


Severe chest contusions and broken ribs can cause the lung to collapse. Symptoms include shortness of breath, pain, and low blood oxygen. Emergency care involves chest tubes and oxygen therapy.

Pulmonary contusion

Swelling, bruising, and internal bleeding can damage the lung tissue. Symptoms often manifest 24 hours or more after an accident. Many patients do not realize they have lung tissue contusions until they are treated in the hospital for secondary pneumonia.

Tracheobronchial injury

The trachea and bronchus are seldom bruised in a motor vehicle collision, but there have been instances where blunt force or penetrating trauma to the neck occurs, resulting in immediate fatality.

What to Do After a Contusion from a Seatbelt

Seat belts account for the most common type of contusions in a car crash. Car accident survivors often report black and blue bruises that are swollen and painful to the touch. Bruise healing can take anywhere from a few days for surface-level soft tissue contusions, to several months for deeper bone contusions. 

If you experience a contusion from a seatbelt, see a licensed medical professional immediately. Your doctor may order an x-ray or MRI to determine if you have bruised ribs and to ensure no organs are at risk of perforation.

Contact an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your injuries

If you suffered a contusion in a car accident, you may require assistance from a personal injury attorney to prove the severity of your injuries and recover the compensation you deserve. It is always a good idea to document your injuries with photographs, detailed records of doctor’s visits, and a journal of how you’re feeling or how your injuries impact your quality of life. Contact the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm as soon as possible if you are injured in the DFW area. We offer free consultations and contingency-based representation, meaning you pay nothing unless we secure money on your behalf.