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Can a Car Accident Cause Commotio Cordis?


After Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest during a football game this past Monday, experts have weighed in on the potential causes for the catastrophic event. Fortunately, Hamlin has made significant improvement in the last few days. 

There were a number of speculations tossed around within the medical community regarding the accident, but one was seen most often: Commotio Cordis. 

So, what is Commotio Cordis? Commotio Cordis is a disorder that causes cardiac arrest due to a sudden and forceful impact to the chest. The precise timing and force of the impact to the chest essentially causes the heart to stop beating – generally speaking, the impact induces ventricular fibrillation. If Commotio Cordis is not treated promptly and correctly, it can be fatal. 

Commotio Cordis is extremely rare, with only about two dozen cases per year. It is most commonly seen in sports such as baseball and hockey, where the baseball and hockey puck cause a devastating impact to the chest. However, Commotio Cordis can be caused by other events other than these specific sports. 

Can Commotio Cordis Occur in a Car Accident?

Because Commotio Cordis is caused by a sudden, blunt impact to the chest, it can potentially occur in a car accident, as chest trauma and chest injuries are commonly seen in car accidents. 

However, Commotio Cordis is often caused more so by the timing of the impact rather than the force of the impact, so it varies depending on the situation. It can occur whether or not the passenger/driver is wearing a seatbelt. 

According to the car accident lawyers at Haffner & Morgan LLP., rear-end accidents and head-on collision accidents have the potential to cause life-threatening injuries, this includes chest injuries such as Commotio Cordis. 

Commotio Cordis Precautions

Preventing Commotio Cordis is challenging, especially in a car accident, where the event is often unexpected and sudden. However, there are steps you can take to lower the likelihood of Commotio Cordis happening. 

Wearing a seatbelt at all times and driving defensively lowers the chances of getting in a car accident in general. It is extremely important to know how to correctly administer CPR, as it is crucial in treating Commotio Cordis. 

Additionally, an automated external defibrillator is extremely important in treating Commotio Cordis. If you can get your hands on one, and know how to correctly operate it, it is smart to have an AED on hand in the case that Commotio Cordis does occur. 


Commotio Cordis is a rare, but potentially fatal cardiac event that occurs when a person is struck in the chest with force. Treating Commotio Cordis as early as possible is essential in the survival of the victim, and the longer they are left untreated, the less likely their recovery becomes. 

Car accidents often cause blunt-force trauma to the chest, so Commotio Cordis can occur due to a car accident, among other incidents. 

If you or someone you know has experienced a car accident and has chest pain or difficulty breathing, it is paramount that you seek medical attention. 


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