Deep Vein Thrombosis
You often hear about deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when someone collapses in the airport or at a rest stop after sitting for hours. And while DVT can develop during long-distance travel, it can also occur as a complication of trauma.
If you develop DVT after an accident, you could face some serious issues. These health problems could inhibit your ability to work, regardless of whether you work in an office or perform manual labor.
It is important for accident victims to understand more about DVT and the compensation they can seek for this potentially serious condition.
How Does Blood Circulate Through Your Body?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen to produce energy and create proteins. They get oxygen from your blood.
When you inhale oxygen into your lungs, the oxygen molecules get picked up by red blood cells in your blood. The oxygen-rich blood gets pumped from your lungs to your heart. There, the heart exerts enormous pressure on the blood to push it through your arteries and into your body.
The heart pumps about 20% of the blood uphill to your head and brain. The rest goes to your body to oxygenate the cells.
When the blood reaches your body cells, it drops off the oxygen molecules and picks up a carbon dioxide molecule. The oxygen-depleted blood then must make the return trip to your lungs so it can drop off the carbon dioxide and pick up more oxygen.
The positive pressure from your heart has already pushed the blood through your arteries to your body. Now, negative pressure from the opposite chamber of your heart draws blood from your body back to your heart.
But the negative pressure must fight gravity. Between each heartbeat, gravity tries to pull the blood back down into the feet and hands. So your deep veins, the large veins that carry up to 95% of the deoxygenated blood, contain a series of valves.
Between heartbeats, the blood tries to flow backward against gravity. But instead of flowing backward, the blood pushes against the valve flaps and closes them. On the next heartbeat, the valves open, and the deoxygenated blood climbs a bit further before the valves close again.
How Does DVT Happen?
DVT describes a condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the legs or arms. This happens when poor circulation allows the blood to accumulate in the deep veins. The accumulation allows the platelets to stick together and form a blood clot.
This condition has many possible causes, including:
Inactivity increases the likelihood that blood will pool in your legs. Your leg muscles must contract and relax when you move your legs. The muscle action helps squeeze the veins and push the blood upward.
More importantly, as you move, your heart rate increases to supply oxygen to your cells. Since the circulatory system is a closed system, an increased heart rate improves circulation in both the arteries and veins.
Conversely, when you do not move, you can develop pressure points on your legs where your chair or bed presses on you. These pressure points further slow down your circulation and lead to blood clots.
Inactivity can happen while you recover from an accident. Worse yet, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, you may experience partial or total paralysis. The inactivity from paralysis can cause DVT.
Severe injuries, like muscle lacerations, broken bones, and internal organ damage, can increase your chances of developing DVT. When you suffer severe injuries, the body follows a fixed process to repair them. The body begins the healing process by sending platelets to the injured body part.
The platelets then:
- Stop the bleeding
- Protect the injury site
- Create a net to hold the collagen, macrophages, and other healing cells in place
To perform these tasks, the platelets form a blood clot. Occasionally, pieces break off the blood clot and enter the bloodstream. These seed clots can accumulate and grow in the low-flow environment of the deep veins.
Trauma causes the body to release clotting factors. These proteins prepare the body to form clots over potential injuries. A clot can prevent you from bleeding to death and protect the injury while it heals.
But the body does not know the difference between a car accident and surgery. As a result, you face an increased risk of developing DVT after you undergo invasive medical treatment.
After surgery, you likely have all three risk factors working against you. Your body will increase the clotting factors in the blood due to the trauma of the surgery. You will develop a blood clot at the surgery site to begin healing. And your activity level will probably drop, at least temporarily, after your surgery.
Your doctor knows about your increased risk. The doctor will prescribe compression socks or even an intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) device to squeeze your feet or legs. The squeezing increases the pressure in your blood vessels and helps your heart circulate the blood in your deep veins.
What Are the Legal Causes of DVT?
You might believe you can only get compensation for injuries sustained in your accident. But you can recover compensation for any injury where you can prove a causal connection to your accident.
Causation in New York requires two elements. First, you must prove that the other party’s actions were a cause-in-fact of your injuries. Causes-in-fact include all the actions that fall within the chain of events that led to your injury.
Second, you must prove that the other party’s actions were the proximate cause of the DVT. Proximate cause means that your injury was a foreseeable result of the other party’s acts.
This does not mean that the other party foresaw that you would go to the hospital and develop DVT during your recovery. Instead, it means the other party’s actions were the type of actions that reasonably could injure someone.
Can You Get Compensation for DVT?
Using these tests, you can often obtain compensation for DVT. Although DVT does not happen after every injury, you can often trace its cause back to your original accident. And while your exact malady might not have been foreseen, bodily injuries are a foreseeable result of negligent conduct.
The dedicated attorneys at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. have successfully represented clients for a vast range of injuries and wrongful deaths. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your DVT case today at (212) 514-5007.