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How to know if someone is in shock after an accident

Shock can occur after any type of accident, from falling down a flight of stairs at work to a road traffic accident. Medical shock is a life-threatening condition, which means knowing what to do in the event of shock after an accident could save somebody’s life. If you have suffered shock after an accident, you could be entitled to claim compensation if somebody else was to blame for the accident. The best way to find out more is to contact a personal injury lawyer, and that’s where Accident Advice Helpline can help you.

What is medical shock?

Shock happens when the body’s organs and tissues don’t receive enough blood, causing an imbalance of oxygen and a build-up of waste products that can cause damage to the organs. Physiological shock is a life-threatening condition which usually occurs in four stages – if not treated promptly then the 4th stage can be fatal, and there is a risk of heart attack or severe organ damage. There are several different types of medical shock, such as neurogenic shock (caused by a spinal cord injury) and hypovolemic shock, caused by severe fluid and blood loss, usually after an accident. Bear in mind that if somebody is in shock after an accident they may be suffering from a range of other injuries too.

What are the symptoms of shock after an accident?

It’s a good thing to be able to spot the symptoms of shock after an accident so that you can take immediate steps to save somebody’s life. Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • Fast and weak pulse
  • Chest pain
  • Moist, clammy skin
  • Sweating
  • Light headedness or dizziness
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Unconsciousness
  • Anxiousness
  • Confusion
  • Shallow, rapid breathing

If you suspect shock you should always call 999 for assistance. The faster the person is treated, the less the risk of damage to organs. In the meantime you can carry out some emergency first aid that could help to save a life.

Lay the person flat on their back (if possible) and raise their legs, as this helps to restore normal blood pressure. You may need to administer CPR if they are not breathing, and their breathing and circulation should be checked every five minutes. Loosen any tight clothing but keep them warm and comfortable, and don’t let them have any food or drink as there is a risk of choking if they become unconscious or vomit.

How is shock treated?

Someone in shock after an accident is usually treated by giving fluids and blood either in the ambulance or at the hospital. Oxygen is normally administered and cooling or warming blankets are used – steps are then taken to reduce blood pressure to normal levels. This often needs to be carried out at the same time as treating any other urgent injuries such as serious wounds or lacerations, or a head injury. Did you know that between 2002 and 2003, 414 cases of shock were treated at hospitals across England? Treatment for shock usually leads to a full recovery but this is only if treatment is provided in time. Waiting to call 999 or failing to provide emergency first aid could lead to the progression of shock that could be fatal.

Other types of shock

Hypovolemic shock is often secondary to hemorrhagic shock (rapid blood loss), which can be caused by penetrating trauma. Different types of shock have a different prognosis too – for example septic shock has a mortality rate of 30-50% whilst hypovolemic shock is the most common cause of death in people 1-45 years old (in the USA), with 200,000 cases annually.

Should you claim personal injury compensation?

It may be that you have suffered shock after an accident on the road – you’re not alone as in 2015, 22,137 people were seriously injured in accidents on the UK’s roads. Or perhaps you have been hurt in a machinery accident at work, or fallen down a flight of stairs in a public place, such as at a shopping or leisure centre. Any of these types of accidents could lead to the development of shock, and your prognosis will depend on how quickly you received the medical attention you needed.

If you have been injured in an accident at work and your employer or colleagues didn’t call 999 immediately, you may have suffered more severe symptoms or even irreversible organ damage that will affect the rest of your life. These are all things to speak to Accident Advice Helpline about if you decide to make a claim for personal injury compensation. We’ll take into account the impact your injuries have had on your life, which will affect your personal injury settlement.

You’re entitled to claim compensation if somebody else’s negligence caused your accident, and in most cases the other party’s insurance will pay out. For example if another driver caused your car accident, their insurance could pay you compensation. If you’ve been hurt in an accident at work, your employer’s liability insurance could pay you a personal injury settlement. So there really is no need to suffer in silence if somebody else’s negligence has caused your accident.

Contact Accident Advice Helpline for more information

Whether you’re ready to make a claim after suffering from shock, or you simply need to talk to somebody and get advice, you can get in touch with Accident Advice Helpline at any time, provided it has been three years or less since your accident. You can call our freephone helpline on 0800 689 5659 to get advice from our expert team – we have over 16 years’ experience helping people across the UK to claim compensation, and we’re proud to be endorsed by our patron, UK consumer champion Dame no win no fee basis, making our services easily affordable no matter what your circumstances.