What Should I Do if I Experience Chest Pains After a Car Accident?

Experiencing chest pain following a car accident is not uncommon. In fact, data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 80% of all car accident victims experience some degree of injury to their chest or head. Chest pains are often caused by muscle strain from the force of the collision. Unfortunately, they can also indicate a serious or even life-threatening injury. No matter what you suspect the cause of your chest pains may be, you need to get prompt medical attention. Chest pains are not something to ignore or take lightly. If they are the result of a serious injury, it is only going to worsen until you seek treatment. The experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been advocating for personal injury victims since 1985. We are committed to ensuring that our clients receive just compensation for their medical bills and other damages caused by someone else’s negligence.  

Is It Normal to Experience Chest Pains After a Car Accident?

People often tense up during the impact of a crash so muscle strains and aches are a fairly common outcome. have muscle aches and strains afterward. Due to the excess adrenaline your body produces after a traumatic event, it is also common for victims to be unaware that they are injured. Many accident victims who see no visible injuries often think they are unharmed; a lucky escape. If they do experience any discomfort in the hours or days that follow, they may even brush it off as a mild muscle strain that will eventually resolve itself. If the pain is due to a serious but undetected injury, it is going to worsen over time.  

After being involved in a collision, you should always seek prompt medical attention. With its on-site equipment and specialists, a hospital emergency room is the best place to go for timely medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. The more severe your injuries are, the more time is a factor in your survival and recovery. 

What Injuries Can Cause Chest Pains After a Car Accident?

Numerous internal injuries can be caused by car accidents, some of which are life-threatening. Some common injuries that may cause chest pain are: 

Muscle Strains

When victims tense up during impact, it can lead to inflammation in the muscles. If they are stuck hard enough, their muscles can be twisted and stretched in abnormal ways and beyond their usual range of motion. These unexpected movements can result in chest pains that last for a considerable amount of time. 

Musculoskeletal Injuries and Bruising  

When it is fastened properly, the seat belt stretches across your lower rib cage and the middle of your sternum. During an accident, the seat belt tightens, putting immense pressure on your ribs. Although it might not be immediately apparent, the pressure exerted by the seat belt can cause severe bruising across your chest and potentially broken ribs, which can lead to secondary injuries like a punctured lung. Similar injuries may also occur if your chest made contact with the steering column or you were struck by an airbag as it deployed. 


Whiplash is the most commonly occurring car accident injury. While whiplash is an injury that typically affects the victim’s neck, it can also cause pain to radiate down into the chest due to the interconnected soft tissue, muscles, and nerves.

Injuries to Internal Organs

Many accident victims also experience chest pains caused by blunt-force trauma injuries such as internal bleeding, a ruptured spleen, a punctured lung, and other serious internal injuries. Without immediate medical intervention, internal injuries involving ruptured organs, lacerations, or bleeding could be life-threatening. 

Heart Attack

The fear, anxiety, and stress brought on by a car crash are capable of producing enough trauma to cause a heart attack, especially in those with pre-existing conditions.  

What Should I Do if I Have Chest Pains After a Car Accident?

Getting a prompt and thorough medical examination that includes diagnostic testing is the safest way to diagnose or eliminate a life-threatening injury. After a car accident, you should never assume any aches or pains are trivial or try to diagnose yourself with Google.  

Once you have been properly diagnosed, you must follow your doctor’s treatment plan until you are medically cleared. This includes resting when you are supposed to and restricting your physical activity, not just taking any medications you were prescribed. If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, you need to attend all of your appointments. 

All We Do Is Injury Law

Once your injuries have stabilized, contact the experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to determine whether or not you have a valid case for taking legal action. A lawsuit or injury claim can help you receive financial compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. A client of ours in a similar situation was awarded a $170,000 jury verdict after an accident caused by a negligent driver left her with chronic pain. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (833) 997-1774 or reach out through the contact page on our website. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton, and Portsmouth.