Over three million Americans are injured in motor vehicle accidents every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you’re injured in a car accident—whether as a driver, passenger, a pedestrian hit by a car, or a bicyclist hurt when a car door opened in your path—don’t ignore any injuries you may have just because they seem “minor” at the time. Every injury has a value. You may be entitled to compensation for any car accident injury caused by someone else’s negligence, or carelessness:
- Medical bills (present and future);
- Lost wages, both from a temporary or permanent inability to return to your job, and from hospitalization, doctors’ appointments, physical or mental therapy, and other treatments causing you to miss work;
- Child care;
- Personal care;
- Household help; and/or
- Transportation costs.
In addition to these costs, you may experience pain and suffering severe enough to merit compensation. The value of an injury can’t always be determined immediately after an accident.
At The Valentine Law Firm, we have established a long track record of success in obtaining favorable results for car accident victims. We won’t charge you anything unless we achieve a favorable verdict or settlement for you.
The 5 Most Common Car Accident Injuries:
- Soft tissue injuries are the most common type of car accident injury. A soft tissue injury affects connective tissues—muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
“Whiplash” is one of the most common soft tissue injuries, which occurs when the car stops or turns suddenly, or is struck forcefully from behind, causing the neck to “whip” back and forth rapidly. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, reduced range of motion, and increased pain with movement.
Musculoskeletal injuries can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves anywhere else in the body. If these tissues are stretched, compressed or bent during the accident, these injuries can be extremely painful and may prevent you from performing simple tasks such as getting dressed, picking up your toddler, or performing work-related activities. To avoid long-term damage, you should seek medical attention if you experience redness, swelling, inflammation, or pain that gets worse with movement.
- Head injuries range from relatively mild to extremely serious. In many instances, there may be no bruising or other visible sign to indicate that you’ve sustained a head injury. If the car stops or turns suddenly, the head can be thrust against the steering wheel or a side window; when no seatbelt is used and no air bag deploys, the head can strike the front windshield as well. The impact can cause simple bruising or a closed head injury. A closed head injury may damage the fluid and tissue inside the skull. The most severe head injuries can result in permanent brain damage.
A concussion can result when the head is thrown back and forth, even if the head doesn’t make physical contact with anything. Symptoms of a concussion, which may not appear for a few hours, include a headache, temporary loss of consciousness, dizziness, ringing in the ears, or seeing “stars.” A “blackout” or loss of consciousness after the crash may indicate a serious head injury.
- Bone fractures typically result from blunt force. The most common bones to fracture are the hands, arms, feet, and legs. However, the ribs, skull, sternum, hips, head, and spinal cord can also be fractured in a car accident. The symptoms of a fracture are severe pain, redness, swelling, bruising, deformity, and loss of function. Serious car accident fractures are more likely to require surgery, as they may involve multiple fractures or crushing injuries. Accompanying tendon and ligament damage can make injuries even more difficult to treat. Serious fractures are often characterized by the complexity of the surgery required, pain and suffering, and a long period of physical therapy, as well as potential permanent loss of mobility. Broken bones heal at different rates. A simple fracture can repair itself within weeks while larger or more complex breaks can require much more time to heal, considerable medical expense, and significant loss of income. If bone fragments protrude through the skin, these “open” fractures carry a higher risk of infection and present more complications. Some serious fractures require the replacement of the bone and/or the insertion of metal parts in the body.
- Chest injuries can include broken ribs and internal organ injuries, as well as bruises and musculoskeletal injuries. A driver may suffer chest injuries from being thrust into the steering wheel. Anyone in the vehicle may sustain bruises from a seat belt or air bag. Broken ribs can be painful over the time it takes them to heal; internal organ damage can seriously jeopardize overall health and should be evaluated immediately and treated by a health care professional.
- Emotional injuries may not be obvious immediately after the accident. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not uncommon following an accident, particularly if serious injuries resulted either to you or to someone else. Anxiety and depression should dissipate over a few weeks. However, PTSD may not manifest itself until a month or more after the crash. If you can’t overcome feelings of anxiety or depression, or if you develop PTSD, you should contact a doctor or therapist who can help you overcome these effects of the trauma you experienced.
After a car accident, see a doctor!If you’ve been in an accident and experience pain or disorientation—even if you see no visible signs of injury beyond superficial cuts and bruises—you should see a medical professional to make sure that you haven’t sustained any serious injuries. This is especially true if there is any possibility that you sustained a head injury. A doctor will know what to look for based on your recollection of the accident as well as any medical evidence of injury.
Equally importantly, the doctor’s records may substantiate your injury claim later. Because the symptoms of car accident injuries may not appear for days, weeks, or even months after the accident—and the true cost of treating those injuries may not be known for some time—documenting your injuries can be essential to recovering those costs from the person responsible or any insurance company obligated to compensate you.
See a car accident lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.Particularly if you’ve lost income or incurred expenses as a result of an accident, it may be tempting to accept an insurance company’s offer of compensation for your injuries (or for damage to your car). You should never accept an offer without consulting a medical professional and a personal injury attorney to ensure that the offer is fair. Chances are, a quick offer shortly after the accident isn’t. Once you’ve accepted payment and signed a release, you can’t ask for more money later if your injuries are more serious than you originally thought, or require more costly treatment than you anticipated. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your claim and let you know whether the offer is reasonable.