Car man hates person man. They have a fight, car wins.
February 18, 2015 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Asking for fiction: this question involves no real people at all. What would happen to a person who gets their leg pinned between a revving car and a building? How long would it take for such an injury to heal?

For example: would the person's leg be crushed? I want this person to be in a cast for about six months and not be able to put weight on the messed-up leg.

You people are beautiful for responding to such a silly question.
posted by angrycat to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
mostly depends on how fast car was going when the leg got pinned. A slow, creeping up on you roll into pinning the leg isn't going to do much more than some bruising. Anything above about 20 MPH is going to kill the guy, due to bouncing on hood and likely impact of head into wall. I think somewhere between 5-10 mph you'd get a a likely broken leg, probably a fibula.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:56 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

A medical term that'll help in your efforts is, "crush injury"
posted by redindiaink at 7:19 AM on February 18, 2015

I'm a nurse in a busy trauma ICU and see this sort of thing relatively frequently.

I'm not sure they'd be in a hard cast for 6 months, but they absolutely could be injured severely enough that they'd need to spend weeks in the hospital and then months in rehab.

With a crush injury, you're always at high risk for acute kidney failure due to the breakdown of muscle tissue. The massive release of myoglobin overwhelms and damages the kidneys. Even a young, healthy person with perfectly healthy kidneys can end up on dialysis - albeit often on a temporary basis - following a crush injury. This means your victim likely spends a couple of weeks in the ICU, possibly longer.

Consider also that major blood vessels run through the legs. If these vessels are damaged, major blood loss can result. Blood loss can lead to kidney failure just as a crush injury can. Additionally, tissue starved of blood can lead to necrosis - your victim may need to undergo surgeries to debride dead tissue from his limb.

If a burn injury is involved, perhaps due to intense heat or friction from some part of the car, things could be even more complicated. Your victim may need skin grafts, which means additional surgeries and care.

Broken bones would obviously be the most likely outcome, as well as damage to ligaments, especially those supporting the knee. Depending on the type of vehicle and how the victim was struck, he plausibly could break any of the three major leg bones; foot and ankle bones; the knee bone; or any combination of these. Broken bones can lead to all sorts of interesting complications, especially if the breaks are severe - multiple surgeries, bone infections, blood clots, or pulmonary emboli, especially from a femur break.

I hope you're getting the idea by now that you've got lots of room to be creative with this! For being out of commission for 6 months, I'd say you'd want at least a couple of major broken bones requiring two or more surgeries, plus some kind of complicating factor - a burn, blood loss, infection, etc.
posted by pecanpies at 7:20 AM on February 18, 2015 [22 favorites]

(And I hope you'll forgive me for writing most of the above in layman's terms - I figured that's what would be most helpful, but I'm happy to toss out some jargon if you'd rather.)
posted by pecanpies at 7:22 AM on February 18, 2015

It doesn't take a significant amount of pressure to cause compartment syndrome, and IF surgery is immediate and successful then you would be looking at a long recovery. (If it isn't, you're looking at death or amputation.)
posted by Lyn Never at 7:26 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's the speed. I had almost this exact injury, trapped between a back bumper and another car's front bumper by the legs. The person who hit me was an elderly out-of-it sort who rolled up on me when I was jaywalking, and when I pounded on his hood, he hit the gas instead of the brakes. (Yeah EEK!) I got severe bruising and swelling, but no breaks. I went to work that very day; though I had to keep my legs elevated, I could sort of walk.
posted by RedEmma at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Awesome answers, guys. Thanks so much.
posted by angrycat at 7:29 AM on February 18, 2015

pecanpies' answer is a Best of Metafilter candidate

You can actually follow the story of a real case, because the victim had become a bit of a celebrity. This is Sian Green, an Irish woman who was pinned against a wall by a NYC taxi in 2013. She lost her leg entirely, but there was ensuing drama that kept her in the news (including that she's become a spokesperson of sort for amputees' rights, impressively). Probably helps that she got engaged and won a 27 million dollar lawsuit against the city along the way. She's done a lot of TV interviews talking about the accident and her recovery. So there's a lot of first-hand reportage you can draw from.
posted by spitbull at 7:30 AM on February 18, 2015

What would happen to a person who gets their leg pinned between a revving car and a building?

Bear in mind the type of vehicle and speed of impact is important - if it is a normal family car just pushed gently against a wall (so initially touching) and then flooring the throttle, the pressure will be exerted at bumper height exactly - ie around the shin/knee area exclusively. If it were a truck, that bumper will push them at thigh to waist height (which is potentially much more wide reaching an injury) or even at chest height for a commercial or large truck. Worse and up to head height and *SQUISH* if it is a Semi.

A car of normal-ish power just pushing against someone with no run-up is not that big a load and (a mentioned above) is not necessarily guaranteed to break a leg unless there was some kind of angle to the leg or a non-flat surface behind. If it had even a foot or so run up, though it'd likely do much more damage. If it had any kind of speed (<1>10mph the area acting on the pedestrian is unlikely to be different than the stationary shove example. Only >10 mph would you get much chance of deformation of the front end of the car, which not only suggests significant force transferred to the pedestrian to produce that deformation, but also means the subsequent shoving acts over a larger area.
posted by Brockles at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2015

My brother-in-law was pinned against a wall by a disgruntled ex-co-worker after his freshman year of college. It was not a high-speed hit, but it fucked up his knee enough that he lost his football scholarship.
posted by notsnot at 8:10 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to work with a woman who was injured when a drunk driver hit the car parallel-parked behind her when she was adding water to her engine -- one of her legs was caught between the bumper of the two cars. She ended up with an above-knee amputation, the injury was so extensive. But that involved a car racking up significant speed before hitting the car that hit her.
posted by KathrynT at 8:25 AM on February 18, 2015

I know a guy who had that happen, a slow speed pinch between a truck bumper and something (either another bumper or a building, I'm not sure). His leg had to be amputated above where it was crushed and he now has a high tech artificial lower leg.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2015

pinned between a revving car and a building

You didn't ask about this, but "a revving car" isn't necessarily moving at all. If you said someone was standing between a revving car and a building I would assume the car was stopped (although this isn't the wisest thing to do, because people can forget you are there or accidentally put the car in gear).

Here's a video of a woman revving a car. Note that you can also rev the engine with the hood down.

You can also rev a car in neutral while it is rolling. Vroom, vvvvroom!!

Fortunately all the times I've seen people get between revving cars and buildings the worst that's happened is that the people have gotten annoyed at me for suggesting that they not stand there. You'll want to describe what happened in a different way, or a more specific way, if you want it to seem plausible the person was injured. Maybe the driver revved the engine and then purposefully dropped it into first, or had a seizure and hit the shift lever, or something.
posted by yohko at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2015

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