A serious car accident may lead to all kinds of injuries, including whiplash, head/brain trauma, soft tissue damage, and broken bones. Broken ribs are a common result of car crashes, and in some cases these injuries are relatively minor (if not uncomfortable).
However, broken ribs can also cause you to experience more serious complications, as described by the Mayo Clinic. Some of these complications can even be life-threatening, so emergency care is always urged after a serious wreck, even if there are no visible injuries.
The middle ribs are situated in proximity to the lungs, which leaves them at risk when these ribs are broken. The jagged end of the middle rib could potentially puncture a lung and cause its collapse. A collapsed lung is a medical emergency, as it severely limits your ability to draw a breath. Excess air surrounding the lung must be removed to restore breathing.
While it is less common for the bottom ribs to break due to their flexible nature, a bad enough car wreck can result in multiple breaks in this area. When these bottom ribs are impacted, you have a risk of damaged and lacerated organs. This includes the kidneys, liver, and spleen, all of which pose an internal bleeding risk if not addressed immediately.
As the main artery taking blood away from your heart to other parts of your body, any damage to the aorta will have a serious effect. Punctured or torn aortas can result when the one or all of the first three ribs are damage as a result of blunt force and/or physical trauma. A tear in the aorta is a life-threatening complication of broken ribs, one that requires immediate medical attention to prevent the worst possible outcome.