Motor vehicle collisions killed 37,461 people in the U.S. in 2016 and injured 3,144,000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sadly, almost all of these crashes are not accidents, as we’ve previously discussed. Rather, they result from choices people make. Whether a driver is distracted by a cell phone conversation, is impaired by alcohol, or has failed to maintain his car’s brakes, decisions that contribute to a fatal car crash, or one that results in serious injury, are the result of fault, not chance or an unavoidable accident. However, as we explain in the linked article above, we employ the term “car accident” because it is the term most frequently searched by injury victims.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer will begin dealing with insurance companies directly, allowing you to focus on healing.
Our law firm has helped numerous victims hurt in car accidents, and over the years we’ve seen the unfortunate suffering that comes from a multitude of injuries. While car crashes can happen in many ways, with a wide range of results, there are some injuries that are particularly common.
5 Common Car Accident Injuries:
The force of a rear-end collision or other impact between two cars can cause the head to snap forward to the point of restraint and then back, or from side to side. These sudden movements can strain or sprain neck ligaments or cause injury to joints or discs.
Mayo Clinic notes that common signs and symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness and headaches. While most whiplash injuries resolve after a few weeks with treatment, others, such as herniated discs or damaged joints, can be much more serious and can cause chronic pain and other long-term complications. Treatment may include lengthy physical therapy or surgery for the more severe injuries.
Back Injuries/Spinal Cord Injuries
The force of collisions between cars causes drivers and passengers to be thrown forward, backward or to the side, even when seatbelts are buckled and air bags deploy. This violent movement can cause soft tissue injuries in the back or a slipped disc, or a much more serious spinal cord injury.
While dislocated discs and strains and sprains to ligaments, tendons, and muscles may heal within a few weeks when medical care is provided, spinal cord injuries are life-changing and often cause permanent physical limitations. How limited a person may be after a spinal cord injury depends upon the location of the injury and how severe it is. For example, some still experience some sensation and/or motor function below the affected area.
People often call paralysis due to spinal cord injury “tetraplegia” or “quadriplegia” if the paralysis affects all four limbs, the trunk of the body and the pelvic organs. “Paraplegia” is paralysis that affects the legs, pelvic organs and all or part of the trunk.
Anyone who experiences a significant trauma to the head or neck must be medically evaluated immediately because, according to Mayo Clinic, serious spinal injuries aren’t always immediately obvious.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
In an accident, car occupants’ heads can strike the dashboard, the steering wheel or a side window. Loose objects in the car – such as a cell phone or soda can – can hit a driver or passenger in the head. A pedestrian hit by a car might strike her head on the car itself or on the pavement. In some instances, a traumatic brain injury can result even without a direct blow to the head.
A concussion or mild TBI may resolve with lots of rest, while a moderate or severe TBI can cause long lasting, serious difficulties or even death. Surgery may be necessary to alleviate pressure or stop bleeding. Recovery is lengthy for many victims of a significant brain injury, with some forms of damage permanent in nature.
Not all symptoms of a traumatic brain injury appear right away. In fact, signs of a TBI can show up hours or days after a car accident.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents, according to Mayo Clinic, are the most common cause of blunt thoracic (chest) injuries and may result not only by direct trauma but by compression or acceleration or deceleration forces.
Drivers can have chest injuries ranging from bruises to broken ribs or internal injuries after a car crash. Car accident victims may suffer collapsed lungs, a fractured sternum or internal bleeding. The force of an impact can jolt a driver’s body forward to strike the steering wheel. While wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces the risk of more serious injury, a driver or passenger can still end up with damage from being belted or struck by a deploying air bag.
Knee and Leg Injuries
The lower body may be injured in a crash if it contacts the car’s interior, whether the door, floor, dashboard or seats in front of a rear passenger. Knees are particularly susceptible to damage when they hit the dashboard. Tears, dislocations and fractures of the knee are more common, but ankles and toes can break, too. While ligament strains or tears may heal with treatment and physical therapy, some more serious or multiple injuries may require surgery.
Though it takes a considerable amount of force to break the largest bone in the body, the thigh bone or femur, any of the three leg bones can break in a bad accident. Bones broken in multiple places, or compound fractures involving the bone protruding through the skin, may require surgical repair. Doctors pin the bone to hold it in place or, in more significant injuries, have to install a rod.
Knee or leg injuries may make it difficult to perform normal daily tasks at home or work during recovery, which can take weeks or months.
If you are in a car accident, it’s crucial that you see a doctor immediately. After a crash, you may feel that you’re ok or that your injuries are minor, but you may be more seriously hurt than you realize. Some injuries don’t immediately present symptoms, while others may grow worse over time without treatment.
Delays in seeking treatment raise red flags for insurers. Waiting more than a week to seek treatment is red-flagged by some insurers, while waiting more than 30 days often gets a claim tagged as “presumptively fraudulent.”
Obviously, then, should you need to hire a lawyer to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver, being able to show that you were treated immediately after a collision can be critical. A delay in seeking treatment is often a basis for denying or downgrading an injury, or arguing that you were not hurt in the crash but in another incident.
Suk Law Firm has focused exclusively on serving victims in personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1988. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of clients, and we are ready to assist you. Contact us today.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.