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Car Accident Issues: Breast Implant Ruptures after an Accident

05/10/2022
Car Accidents
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Car accidents present several injury risks. For individuals who have breast implants, one of these injury risks is the risk of a breast implant rupture. Breast implant ruptures typically require surgery, and this presents its own set of risks for potential complications.

Breast implant ruptures can also cause significant pain and emotional trauma, and these are non-financial losses for which accident victims are entitled to just compensation under Florida law. If you have experienced a breast implant rupture as the result of a car accident, you should speak with a lawyer to make sure you receive the maximum compensation available for your medical treatment, pain, emotional trauma and other losses.

How Car Accidents Cause Breast Implant Ruptures

Modern breast implants consist of a flexible outer silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a saline solution (sterile salt water). According to the Cleveland Clinic, silicone gel is more common in the United States, with approximately 60 percent of all breast implants containing silicone gel.

A breast implant rupture occurs when a tear in the flexible outer silicone shell allows the silicone gel or saline solution inside to escape into the body. While this can be painful, in most cases breast implant ruptures do not present risks for serious complications. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “ruptured silicone breast implants aren’t thought to cause breast cancer, reproductive problems or connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.” For breast implants filled with saline solution, Breastcancer.org writes that typically “[t]he salt water is absorbed by the body.”

The primary way that car accidents cause breast implant ruptures is through pressure applied to the chest during a collision. For example, when a seatbelt is worn across the chest, the force applied to the chest in an accident can squeeze a breast implant causing it to rupture. This can either be a significant rupture that is obvious immediately or a slow rupture that allows the silicone gel or saline solution to escape slowly over a matter of hours or days.

Car Accident Victims with Breast Implants Should Be Wary of “Silent Ruptures”

When a breast implant leaks slowly without obvious signs or symptoms (i.e., pain, hardening, or changes in breast size or shape), this is referred to as a “silent rupture.” In this scenario, the Mayo Clinic advises:

“If you have silicone breast implants and suspect that an implant might have ruptured, talk to your plastic surgeon. An imaging test, such as an MRI or ultrasound, can show whether the implant has ruptured.”

Given that the forces involved in a car accident are more than enough to cause a breast implant rupture, it is advisable for any car accident victim with breast implants to see their plastic surgeon for imaging and a diagnosis. If a car accident causes a silent rupture, obtaining a diagnosis shortly after the accident can be crucial for proving that any future medical expenses or other costs should be covered by the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Risk Factors for Breast Implant Ruptures in Car Accidents

Certain factors can increase an individual’s risk of suffering a breast implant rupture during a car accident. For example, the Cleveland Clinic writes that “[n]ew breast implants typically last about 10 years, but . . . [t]he older that breast implants get, the more likely they are to rupture (break apart).” Breast implants from certain manufacturers are also known to be more prone to rupture than others. Additionally, if a breast implant is damaged prior to a victim’s car accident (i.e. due to a needle insertion during a biopsy), this can compromise the outer shell and increase the risk of a significant rupture. Generally speaking, having one or more of these risk factors does not impact your right to just compensation.

Potential Complications from Breast Implant Ruptures

While the risks associated with breast implant ruptures are generally considered to be low, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that breast implant ruptures can cause certain systemic symptoms. As the FDA also notes, this is commonly referred to as “breast implant illness.” Long-term symptoms that have been linked to breast implant ruptures include:

  • “Brain fog”
  • Fatigue
  • Joint Pain
  • Memory loss
  • Rash

While it is possible to experience these symptoms without a rupture, a rupture can trigger these symptoms as well. In addition to these symptoms, if silicone gel spreads beyond the breast following a rupture, this can cause scar tissue buildup and, in rare cases, lumps called silicone granulomas.

Since many individuals who experience breast implant ruptures in car accidents will need surgery, ruptures also present risks for surgical complications. Unfortunately, surgical errors are not uncommon, and medical mistakes during breast implant removal and replacement procedures can present greater risks than ruptures themselves.

Financial and Non-Financial Costs of Breast Implant Ruptures Caused By Car Accidents

Florida is one of the limited number of states with a “no-fault” insurance law; and, under this law, car accident victims are limited to seeking personal injury protection (PIP) coverage unless they can demonstrate that they have suffered either (i) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (ii) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability; or, (iii) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.

Generally speaking, a breast implant rupture should fall into either the second or third category (if not both). As a result, individuals who suffer breast implant ruptures in car accidents should be able to seek compensation above and beyond their PIP coverage in most cases. This includes compensation for financial and non-financial losses such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription costs
  • Lost income due to time missed from work
  • Additional out-of-pocket expenses
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma

Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida  

If you suffered a breast implant rupture as the result of a car accident in Florida, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers about your legal rights. To schedule a free consultation in person or over the phone with a lawyer at our offices in TampaWest Palm Beach, or Tallahassee, please call 800-780-8607 or contact us online today.

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