Injuries sustained in a car accident range from minor to severe and can affect all parts of the body, not to mention change your life.
When those injuries result from someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have options. If you, a family member, or a loved one has been in a car crash, your injuries should be part of a personal injury claim. It may be helpful to understand the full scope of possible injuries a motor vehicle accident can cause.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
There are many facets to car accident claims — but the most important thing to address after an accident is your health. Most injuries show up in the minutes or hours after a car crash. But some can take days, weeks, and in some cases, months to fully manifest.
If you’re in a car crash, a personal injury lawyer can help you recognize the full scope of your injuries, including the long-term effects. Accounting for the aftermath of an accident, including recovery, treatment, loss of work, pain and suffering, and permanent deficits, is critical in getting you the compensation you deserve.
A personal injury attorney well-versed in car accident laws can help you understand the options for filing a claim or pursuing litigation should a case go to the courts. They possess the knowledge and expertise necessary to work with insurance companies, insurance adjusters, and the courts to ensure your financial burdens are included in your personal injury claim.
LET’S LOOK AT THE MOST COMMON CAR CRASH INJURIES.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Bruises
In any crash, there is a risk of minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Many of these types of wounds result from protective measures like seatbelts or airbags. Others can occur from a broken windshield or a collision with a dashboard or steering wheel. These less serious injuries usually heal in the week or two following an accident. Cuts may need to be stitched and scrapes bandaged, but there isn’t much you can do for bruising. If swelling occurs, ice is in order — otherwise, keep a close eye on your injuries.
While most bruises heal quickly and on their own, monitoring them is always a good idea. Sometimes they can be a sign of something much more severe such as a hematoma or internal bleeding.
Some bruises can go as deep as the bone. These are very painful and take much longer to heal. If you have bruising on your head, pay close attention. These can indicate a brain injury.
Scars and Disfigurement
In serious car accidents, there can be broken glass, shards of metal, extreme heat, fire, etc. In these cases, facial trauma is more common. Such wounds can result in scars or disfigurement. In some situations, reconstructive or plastic surgery is necessary.
Significant injuries can cause much more than physical trauma. When a person is permanently scarred or disfigured, it is not uncommon to experience depression and anxiety. Deep scarring can result in limited movement and chronic pain.
Broken bones or fractures usually result from a high impact collision. Sometimes these are not immediately recognized. The adrenaline from a car accident can easily mask the pain of a broken bone. What is seen as chest and rib bruising may be broken ribs.
Car manufacturers continue to improve automobile safety, but broken bones remain common injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
Wrist and Hand Injuries
Hands and wrists are full of delicate bones, ligaments, and tendons. It is not uncommon for someone to raise their hands to protect their face in a car crash. When this happens, your hands and wrists can experience trauma. Glass and debris can get lodged in the flesh, essential structures can be cut, and bones can break. Even damage to a single tendon or ligament can be life changing.
In some cases, surgery is in order, and if the damage is too severe, amputation may be necessary.
Leg and Foot Injuries
Leg and foot injuries are common, especially among drivers. In head-on collisions, legs tend to take much of the impact. A foot is full of little bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that can break or tear. Lower leg, knee, or thigh bones can fracture from the force of an accident, and soft tissue damage can occur.
Head, Neck, and Spine Injuries
Some of the most serious injuries that result from a car accident involve the head, neck, and spine. These three structures are interconnected — an injury to one often involves another. Head injuries include facial injuries, neck injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Spine injuries include the neck, back, and sometimes paralysis.
Facial injuries can be challenging. The face is home to many sensory organs, including the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. And each of these is delicate, so minimal trauma can still be devastating.
Injuries to the face include:
- Facial fractures
- Lacerations or skin tears
- Eye injuries, including blindness
- Soft tissue injuries
- Facial deformities
- Tooth loss
- Damage to tissues
The neck is a base for the head to tilt, lean, and turn. This requires many little bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments to work together.
In a car accident, the force of sudden movement can cause whiplash; a quick forward and backward snap of the neck, much like that of a whip. Trauma from whiplash can take months to heal and even cause permanent injury. In collisions where airbags deploy, neck injuries often happen.
Every year, more than two million people experience whiplash, the most common injury in a car accident. Usually, whiplash is caused by rear-end collisions.
Signs of whiplash include:
- Stiff or painful neck
- Neck pain that increases with movement
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Upper back, shoulder, or arm pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Head feels heavy
Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Neck injuries often result in concussions. Any time the brain is set in motion and comes to a sudden stop, a concussion can result. In the case of car accidents, the brain often bounces off the skull’s interior, resulting in brain trauma. This is especially true of collisions where drivers or passengers are traveling at high speeds.
Often, concussion symptoms resolve with appropriate treatments and therapy. But every concussion is potentially life-threatening in nature. These injuries can cause chemical changes in the brain, leading to the following:
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of concentration
- Memory loss
- Diminished problem-solving skills
- Nausea and vomiting
Every concussion is considered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but they are often minor compared to more severe TBIs.
Traumatic brain injuries are often slow to appear and can be challenging to diagnose. A minor issue with the memory, brain, or body may signal a more significant injury involving the brain. Because of their slow onset, they can be difficult to attribute to a car accident, especially if an adjuster tries to settle quickly.
TBIs may result from a blow to the head or a penetrating object. Many cause permanent brain damage; the most severe can lead to death or permanent disability.
Make sure to take note of the following symptoms of a brain injury:
- Personality changes
- Poor concentration
- Memory loss
- Blurry vision
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
Back injuries are prevalent after a car accident and are one of the biggest causes of disability. Any time the spine is required to move in a direction suddenly and forcefully, a back injury is likely. And back pain is one of the worst types of pain because it affects every aspect of your life.
There are many types of back pain that result from car crashes. Here are a few of the most common:
- Strain – results from stressed or strained muscles and tendons
- Tear – results when muscles or tendons tear
- Sprain – when ligaments are overstretched or tear
- Bulging disc – when a portion of a disc bulges, impinging nerve roots or the spinal cord
- Herniated/slipped/ruptured disc – when a disc ruptures and causes pressure on nerve roots or the spinal cord
- Vertebral fracture – when a vertebra breaks
- Pinched nerve – pressure on a nerve causing pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of motor function
- Nerve damage – pain, weakness, or loss of function caused by trauma to the nerves
Paralysis is the result of severe back or neck injuries. This occurs when a spinal cord injury prevents the brain from communicating with parts of the body. Paralysis can also be caused by severing a nerve root that exits the spine, resulting in limb paralysis.
About half of all spinal cord injuries are caused by car crashes, and there is no cure. These injuries often require surgery, intense rehabilitation, chronic pain treatment, and mobility equipment or a wheelchair.
Generally, paralysis is the inability to move one or both arms or legs. It is also possible to have paralysis of a partial limb, such as a hand or foot.
Symptoms of paralysis include:
- Loss of feeling
- Inability to sense temperature
- Loss of movement
- Muscle spasms
- Involuntary reflexive movement
- Breathing difficulties
- Chronic pain
In a high-speed collision, blunt force trauma is unavoidable. Injuries to muscles, bones, and organs can result in active bleeding. This type of injury may not appear right after an accident. The risk of internal bleeding is why anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident should visit the emergency room.
One of the most common sources of internal bleeding is the improper use of a seatbelt. When a shoulder harness sits too low, a collision can cause the seatbelt to damage internal organs. You should always treat abdominal bruising very seriously.
Loss of Limbs
In extreme cases, a car accident can cause traumatic amputation or damage a limb so much that it needs to be removed.
Losing a limb means a lengthy and costly rehabilitation. Not to mention the cost of prosthetics and assistive devices. Permanent disability is likely after losing a limb and can significantly impact your quality of life. About one in 200 people live with the loss of a limb.
WE CAN HELP
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident caused by another driver, you should speak to a car accident attorney. A consultation is free, and their experience with car accident injuries makes them the perfect ally for car crash victims.
At The Advocates, we will provide advice, answer questions and work with you to determine the facts and factors that affect your case. Our attorneys have your best interests in mind and will not accept payment unless your case is won. As we present the evidence of your case, we will work to the best of our ability to get you and your family a reasonable settlement amount.
Involving an Advocate in your car accident claim increases the likelihood that you will receive compensation that will cover your losses.