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What it Means if You Have Stomach Pain After a Car Accident

If you have abdominal pain following a crash, don’t ignore it.

After a serious car accident, it’s common for individuals to suffer stomach pain due to internal injuries or bleeding. Typically resulting from soft-tissue damage, such discomfort can occur in the upper or lower abdomen and persist for hours or days following the crash. That’s why it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention to identify and address any serious complications as early as possible after a car wreck.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), abdominal injuries comprise approximately 5% of severe injuries sustained in car accidents. As such, the emergence of stomach pain as a symptom after a car crash is a red flag signaling the need for immediate medical attention.

If you or a loved one suffered a stomach, abdominal, or internal organ injury in a crash due to negligence, it is essential to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to review your legal rights and options. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, including the cost of emergency surgery, and an attorney can ensure that you’re compensated fairly for all of your damages.

What does stomach pain after a car accident mean?

A variety of factors can cause abdominal pain after a car accident. Common causes of post-accident abdominal pain include internal bleeding, organ damage, blood vessel impairment, organ rupture, or internal aggravation. These medical conditions can lead to long-term damage or even death if left untreated.

Some of these causes are not immediately apparent, but it is essential to identify and treat them to prevent serious health complications.

Seatbelt injuries

One common cause of abdominal pain after a car wreck is injuries sustained from seat belts. If these safety devices are not correctly fitted to the driver’s body, they can cause chest and stomach pain.

One of the most common seat belt injuries sustained by crash victims is seat belt syndrome, which refers to a range of injuries such as bruises, cuts, and fractures to the ribs, sternum, and other parts of the chest, as well as damage to internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bowels.

Experts recommend that seat belts be snug across the stomach and low on the hips or thighs to minimize the risk of injury in a crash.

Airbag injuries

An airbag can cause stomach pain after a car accident if it deploys with too much force or in the wrong position. If the airbag is not positioned correctly, it can hit the driver’s abdomen with excessive force, causing bruising, contusions, or other internal injuries.

Airbags can also cause abdominal trauma or aggravate pre-existing injuries. For example, the impact from an airbag deploying in a crash can compress the organs in the abdomen, causing pain and discomfort.


Whiplash may not cause abdominal pain, but it’s often associated with abdominal pain. A whiplash injury occurs when the head snaps back and forth, and the same sudden jerking motion of the person’s body can cause a range of other injuries, including damage to the structures that attach the spine to the rib cage, such as cartilage near the spine-rib junction.

The jerking motion of the body can also cause stomach pain by heaving the contents of the stomach against the diaphragm muscle, which plays a crucial role in breathing. This can interfere with a person’s ability to breathe normally and exacerbate pain and discomfort.

Blunt force trauma

Even when there is no open wound or cut on the body, blunt force trauma can cause bruises or damage to blood vessels in organs like the stomach and intestines. In some cases, bowel obstructions and constipation can result from this type of injury.

Organ compression

When the stomach or intestines are squeezed between two objects, it can cause abdominal pain. This type of car accident injury can cause lacerations to internal organs and lead to internal bleeding.

Bloated stomach

Bloating is another symptom that can occur after a motor vehicle collision and may be a sign of internal bleeding and other abdominal trauma caused by internal injuries, such as ruptured organs.

Gastric distress

Diarrhea, gas, and other gastrointestinal distress can occur after a car crash, indicating possible damage to the digestive tract.

Disrupted periods

The emotional stress and trauma from a serious car accident can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle. If menstrual irregularities occur after a crash, it is important to speak with a physician to determine if any underlying health issues from the accident are the cause.

Systemic infection

One of the most serious and potentially life-threatening complications that can arise from stomach injuries sustained in car accidents is a systemic infection.

During a car accident, damage to the stomach can cause tears in the intestinal wall, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. This can lead to sepsis, which is a common cause of death following stomach injuries sustained in car accidents.


Another serious complication of stomach injuries is peritonitis, an inflammation of the peritoneum, a membrane that lines the abdominal wall. This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when bacteria from a tear in the gastrointestinal tract enter the peritoneum and cause infection.

Symptoms of peritonitis can include severe stomach pain that worsens with movement, nausea or vomiting, reduced bowel movement or the inability to pass gas, and swelling and bloating of the abdomen. Other symptoms may include thirst, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and shock.

Diagnosing and treating stomach pain from a crash

The diagnosis and treatment of stomach pain after a car accident can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the injury. However, doctors generally follow a few steps to assess and treat stomach pain.

First, doctors will typically perform a physical exam to assess for any visible injuries, including bruises, cuts, or swelling in the abdomen. They will also evaluate vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, to determine if there is any internal bleeding or other serious injuries.

To further evaluate the extent of any internal injuries, doctors may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, to look for signs of trauma, inflammation, or damage to internal organs.

Once a diagnosis has been made, doctors will typically recommend a course of treatment. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, treatment may include pain medication, rest, and immobilization of the affected area. In addition, surgery may sometimes be necessary to repair internal injuries or remove damaged tissue or organs.

How a car accident attorney can help

In addition to medical treatment, crash victims can benefit from seeking legal advice, particularly if another driver’s negligence caused the crash. An experienced car accident lawyer can help victims recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident.

At Smith & Hassler, we understand the challenges that crash victims face. Our experienced legal team is committed to protecting your legal rights and interests to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your losses.

Our attorneys will work tirelessly to review the circumstances of your case, determine the validity of your claim, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. We can also represent you in court to argue your case before a judge or jury if necessary.

If you have been injured in a crash that wasn’t your fault, our Houston car accident lawyers are here to help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and let us fight for the compensation you’re entitled to under Texas law.

Click here to download a printable PDF version of this article, "What Stomach Pain After a Car Accident Might Mean."

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