By Logan Quirk
Types of Car Accident Injuries – Your Guide to Getting the Compensation You Deserve
There are many different types of car accident injuries, all of which can result in compensation if the accident was not your fault. These injuries range from the very minor to the extremely severe, and some can be life-threatening.
Take a look at our guide to some of the most common car accident injuries that affect claimants in the United States, and gain a better insight into the process of your claim. Don’t forget to get in touch with our team if you have any questions.
Which Car Accident Injuries Are the Most Common?
Injuries to the Head and Brain
Car accidents typically involve high levels of impact, resulting in serious trauma. In many instances, this trauma can involve the head area and can pose a significant risk to the victim.
Any trauma to the head should be considered severe. Even if the victim does not lose consciousness or if the victim’s head has struck the vehicle’s airbag rather than the dashboard or steering wheel, medical treatment should be sought right away.
Injuries to the head or brain resulting from a car accident can be classified in three general categories. These are lacerations or damage to the skin on the head or face, damage to the skull or to the structure of the head, and internal damage to the brain.
- Lacerations and bruising
A laceration or bruise is usually the least severe of the three categories, but this does not mean that it is not a serious injury. A bruise will form after a blunt impact to the head or face, and can include black eyes or other types of damage which do not break the skin. A laceration may also be caused by a blunt impact which breaks the skin, but is most commonly caused by flying glass. In some instances, severe lacerations may require plastic surgery.
- Damage to the skull
If the impact is forceful enough, the skull may become fractured. Fractures of the skull can range from a hairline crack to a more serious opening in the bone. In most cases, these are caused by blunt trauma with enough force to damage bone. As the bone of the skull is intended to protect the brain and any damage can leave the brain vulnerable, victims of this kind of injury should seek treatment immediately.
- Damage to the brain
Any trauma or impact can damage the brain. Even if the skull or skin and soft tissue remain intact, movement of the brain within the skull can cause damage. Minor damage to the brain can cause hearing loss, headaches, problems with vision, confusion, unconsciousness, psychological issues, nausea, headaches, and amnesia, among other symptoms. Remember that even if none of these symptoms are present, it is still important to receive proper treatment and assessment quickly.
Injuries to the Spine or Other Areas of the Neck and Back
Typically in a car accident, the vehicle and its occupants will be traveling at speed and then brought to a stop quickly, either by the driver slamming on the brakes or as a result of the vehicle hitting an obstacle. This sudden shift between movement and zero movement can cause injury to the neck or back.
You’ve probably heard of whiplash. This is an injury that occurs when the head is thrown forwards or backward by a sudden change in direction or speed, causing damage to muscles, ligaments, and nerves. While whiplash is a relatively minor injury with few long term repercussions, the intense pain and loss of mobility that follows can be extremely traumatic.
However, injuries to the neck and back can go beyond this and can be very serious. The spinal column runs from the pelvis area to the base of the skull. It is protected by the vertebrae, or back and neck bones. If these bones are cracked or damaged, or are knocked out of line by the impact or a sudden arrest of movement, this can make the spinal column vulnerable. Damage to the spinal column can cause paralysis or even death so this kind of injury should be treated as extremely severe.
As the spinal column is so closely associated with the brain, damage to this area of the body can also cause other symptoms, all of which may be highly troubling to the injury victim. These symptoms may include;
- Severe fatigue: Damage to the spine or to the general neck and back areas may result in a sudden loss of energy and the feeling of gradually slipping into unconsciousness.
- Dizziness: In many cases, the victim of an injury to the neck or the back may experience lightheadedness and an inability to focus or concentrate.
- Psychological problems: A neck or back injury is not usually associated with psychological difficulties, but illnesses such as depression and anxiety are in fact common symptoms of this kind of injury.
Remember that just because the above symptoms may not be present does not mean that a neck or back injury has not occurred. The structure of the spine is fragile, and any damage should be treated with extreme care.
Burns are among the most common types of car accident injury and can occur after exposure to a naked flame, a heated liquid, or via contact with a hot surface or object. Modern automobiles are designed to be fire resistant, even in the event of an accident. However, this does not mean that burns cannot occur.
If a fuel line or fuel tank is ruptured during an accident, this can cause a fire hazard even in modern vehicles. There are also other aspects to take into account, such as flammable objects external to the collision that can also pose a hazard. If we think about the fire triangle – i.e. heat, fuel, and oxygen;the three things a fire needs to begin combustion – we begin to see how a road traffic accident can easily result in a fire or an explosion.
Burn injuries can be very minor, with little damage to the skin other than a painful, initial sensation. However, they can also be extremely serious. Severe burns can cause the body to go into shock. They can cause organ shutdown and death in extreme cases. Other burns and scalds can result in scarring that will never heal of its own accord, particularly if a flammable liquid or substance has come into contact with the skin.
In these cases, plastic surgery and skin grafts may be required to return the appearance of the affected area to normal or to allow the burn victim to live a normal life. Plastic surgery can be highly expensive and will often take a long time to complete. Complications may result in even longer periods of plastic surgery and treatment as doctors work to put the problem right.
When burns occur, it is vital to remove the victim from the source of heat as soon as possible to minimize both the short and long-term effects. In moderate to severe cases, medical treatment should be sought immediately to save the victim’s life and to increase the likelihood of a full recovery.
Damage to Soft Tissue
Soft tissue damage is an extremely common injury in the United States and can occur almost anywhere. An office worker may pull his back muscles or strain his achilles tendon while trying to lift a heavy box of files. A jogger may go over on her ankle during a run, spraining a ligament. Because such injuries are socommon, we tend to view them as minor.
Certainly, these injuries are not life-threatening but they cannot be considered minor as the long-term repercussions can be great. How many times have you heard someone say “luckily it’s just a sprain” after a twisted ankle or an awkward fall onto a wrist? Chances are you’ve heard this quite a few times, but, in truth, damage to tendons and ligaments can be more difficult to treat and to recover from than a simple break of a bone.
This is because of the way in which soft tissue heals. As a ruptured ligament or tendon heals, it may become extended or mishapen, resulting in unstable joints and long term pain and weakness. If the tendon or ligament is completely torn, it will not heal of its own accord at all and will require surgery and a long and painful course of recovery.
Soft tissue can be damaged in many ways during a car accident. We have already discussed whiplash, but the impact can also place high levels of strain and tension on other joints and muscles. For example, if you tense your body and try to hold on to a seat or a door handle – a natural reaction in the moments leading up to an accident – you could damage or dislocate you shoulder joint. If your feet become pinned in the footwell following an accident, this can similarly damage ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
There is also the exit from the vehicle to be considered. Escaping from an automobile following an accident is often a frantic and desperate process, and may require the use of force and strength. All of this makes it easy to suffer a sprain, strain, or a muscle tear.
As we have seen, a bone fracture is typically less serious than damage to soft tissue and should heal more quickly and with less long-term effects. However, when we begin to think about what bone actually is, and what it is for, we understand how serious these injuries can be.
Bone provides the structure for our bodies, allowing us to stand upright and to go about our daily tasks. Bone also provides protection for organs and other vulnerable systems within the body. To achieve these aims, bones are hard and strong. When a bone is broken, it is no longer able to provide this structure, to bear the weight of the body, or to offer this protection.
Broken bones can also cause problems themselves. If you experience a heavy impact to your chest during a car accident, shattered ribs can cause damage to internal organs such as the lungs or the liver, which can be extremely serious or even life threatening. If you break a bone in one of your limbs or around a joint, fragments can cause further damage to soft tissues, exacerbating the problem. Even relatively minor fractures – such as broken fingers or crushed toes – cause severe pain and can be debilitating in the short term.
Should I See a Doctor After an Accident?
Automobile accidents can cause serious injury. The types of car accident injury we have looked at range from the minor to the extremely severe. If you suffer any injury as a result of a car accident, it is advisable to seek treatment from a doctor or other medical professional to alleviate pain and to ensure effective recovery.
With regard to spinal injuries or head injuries, this should be considered an emergency and treatment should be sought immediately. These injuries can worsen over time and can be life-threatening, even several days, weeks, or months after the event.
From a legal point of view, seeing a doctor is similarly important. Many types of car accident injury that are not your fault can result in legal action being taken and the receipt of a cash settlement. This cash settlement will help you pay for treatment in the short and long term, and will compensate you for any other losses experienced.
However, these injuries will need to be proved and evidence of damage and treatment will need to be supplied to ensure success in the courts. This is another factor that makes seeing a doctor so important. Your doctor will be able to provide this proof, making it easier for you to win your case and get the outcome you deserve. A car accident is a traumatic experience. You need to do everything you can to lessen the physical, psychological, and emotional impact on your life.
Want to learn more about types of car accident injuries? Want to inquire about claiming after a traffic collision? Get in touch with our team today.