You are walking in your Florida apartment complex, hotel or public building when you reach the staircase that will take you to your destination. Unfortunately, some of the lights are out in the stairwell, so you have to feel your way up or down. Perhaps you reach a landing or turn in the direction of the stairs when suddenly you can no longer feel the railing in your hand. You lose your footing and tumble down the stairs.
You may lie or sit at the bottom of the stairs feeling foolish and trying to assess if you are injured when you feel a sharp pain in your chest as you inhale. This could be the first sign that you have broken a rib.
Complications from a broken rib
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon happening. Broken ribs can occur from a fall, a motor vehicle accident or sports injuries, among other causes. A crack in your rib may heal itself, although you will suffer much pain while it does. However, a displaced rib fracture can place your internal organs at risk.
After you break a rib, you may not immediately realize what has happened. You may have pain in your side or back, but it is easy to dismiss this as a bruise or pulled muscle from your fall or accident. In any of the following cases, you may be experiencing a medical emergency that could include the puncture or damage of other organs or tissues:
- You are having trouble breathing.
- Breathing causes severe pain.
- You feel weak and lightheaded.
- You are coughing up blood.
- There is blood in your urine.
- You have pain in your abdomen.
Even if your rib fracture is not serious enough to cause internal injuries, you may still be at risk for complications, particularly pneumonia. This is because you will not be able to cough freely to naturally expel fluids from your lungs. To prevent this, you may receive a prescription for strong pain killers that allow you to cough without discomfort. However, this likely means staying off work and resting while you recover.
A broken rib may heal on its own, but you will certainly have many setbacks as a result of this preventable injury. If your fall or accident occurred because of the negligence of a property owner who knowingly failed to properly maintain stairwells or other areas, you may have cause for seeking compensation for the significant medical bills, pain and suffering you will likely face.