Common types of injuries after a car accident range from mild forms of whiplash to catastrophic injuries, like spinal cord trauma. While some of these injuries could resolve in weeks, other victims require advanced medical care for the rest of their lives.
A car accident can leave you hurt in more ways than one. You could also face psychological trauma or feel the strain of financial challenges as you miss work during your recovery. Having a car accident attorney could be very beneficial to your case. Learn more about the types of injuries victims face after a crash and the steps they can take to achieve physical and financial recovery.
What Happens to the Body During a Car Crash?
As anyone who’s been in a car accident, you know the damage that can result. While observers outside may see the destruction of the vehicles, the occupants see their share of damages inside.
That’s because the forces in a crash transfer from the vehicles to the occupants. A car will first hit an object or another vehicle, and then the occupants inside the vehicle could strike surfaces and objects inside the car—seat belts, airbags, side windows, or the steering wheel. Then, there can be more unseen forces inside the occupants’ bodies as internal organs hit the rib cage or the brain moves inside of the skull.
The Force of Impact Can Result in These Health Conditions
- Frontal collisions cause front seat occupants to collide with the car’s dashboard and steering wheel, causing rib fractures, abdominal and chest injuries, and internal organ injuries.
- Rear-end crashes can lead to spinal fractures and neck injuries.
- T-bone crashes can lead to crushing injuries for the occupant closest to the collision site, such as pelvic fractures, skull fractures, neck fractures, and other major injuries.
It’s no surprise, then, that car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death—a problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls a public health concern. The CDC says that 40,000 people passed away from car accident injuries in 2020, which comes to more than 110 fatalities per day. In that same year, car accidents led to 2.1 million emergency room visits.
Common Physical Injuries Car Accident Victims Face
If you experienced a car accident, you may face a range of physical injuries. While some of these injuries could present immediately after the crash, symptoms for other types of injuries may take time to observe.
Some of these conditions include:
- Whiplash: Neck stiffness, loss of neck motion, headaches, and other symptoms could be a sign that you have whiplash. Often, these injuries can heal within a few weeks, yet some leave victims with chronic pain.
- Broken bones: These injuries can greatly range in severity. You may have a minor fracture, a compound fracture, or even an open fracture that punctures the skin. On top of limiting your mobility, some broken bones require surgery.
- Neck and back injuries: This can include herniated or ruptured discs— or even paralyzing spinal cord injuries. You may need to undergo physical therapy or surgery to recover.
- Internal bleeding: Abdominal trauma can mean intestinal, bowel, spleen, liver, and other internal injuries outside the abdomen. Knowing if you have internal injuries can be challenging, but if you have bleeding in your stool or abdominal pain after a crash, you should seek medical attention.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): These injuries may be mild, moderate, or severe. A TBI can include anything from a concussion to a major penetrating injury involving a skull fracture. A TBI can affect victims in many ways, from coordination dysfunction to behavioral symptoms.
- Bruising: While bruising can be painful, these injuries typically only last a few days or weeks. Bruising often resolves on its own.
- Soft-tissue injuries: These could include sprains, strains, and ligament damage. Often, when victims brace themselves for collision, this can lead to ankle, wrist, or joint trauma. You may need to use ice or heat therapy to heal. You may even require surgery.
- Lacerations: You may have cuts from objects flying through the vehicle or from injuries after a vehicle ejection. You may need emergency care for your wound, including stitches.
- Loss of limb: When you have serious injuries to an extremity, you may require amputation. Loss of limbs can also occur during a car accident. You may require rehabilitation or a prosthetic to recover.
When Your Symptoms Seem Minor or Are Delayed
As mentioned, not all injury symptoms appear immediately after a car accident. No matter what symptoms you notice in the hours or days after a crash, be sure to seek medical treatment.
Never downplay your injury symptoms.
After all, they could be a sign of serious injuries, such as:
- A concussion: Watch for signs of headache, dizziness, balance problems, nausea, and other symptoms.
- A herniated disc: Numbness, tingling, arm or leg pain, and weakness could all indicate this injury.
- Cervical strain or whiplash: Look for symptoms like neck stiffness, shoulder or neck pain, arm numbness or tingling, and fatigue, among other symptoms.
- Internal bleeding: Your symptoms could vary depending on the location of the bleeding. Internal head bleeding could come with sudden headaches or coordination or balance issues. Abdominal bleeding could involve chest pain, dizziness, or bleeding from the body’s orifices.
These are just a few of the most commonly overlooked car crash injuries. Unfortunately, many of these injuries can worsen if left untreated. Be sure to get prompt treatment—which is important for your health and possible personal injury case.
Psychological Injuries Car Accident Victims May Face
Car accidents are often traumatic.
On top of the physical injuries involved, victims may also face emotional and psychological challenges, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a common challenge for car accident victims. In one study of traffic accident victims, 32 percent of participants reported having PTSD, while about 17 percent reported having depression. Anxiety affected about 6 percent of victims.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can involve flashbacks and troubling images from the accident. Victims may also face nightmares and severe anxiety. However, people with PTSD can seek treatment and may benefit from learning coping skills, undergoing therapy, taking medications, and getting other forms of support.
Other significant mental health challenges can affect victims after a crash. Many victims report that the crash significantly affects their social life, education, or work life.
Financial and Non-Financial Losses Related to Car Accident Injuries
Whether you faced mild or severe injuries, you could also have other big challenges after a crash: medical bills, lost income, and other financial pressures. The financial damage of a car accident can quickly add up.
However, if you’re facing unpaid bills or missed income, you could seek compensation. You could bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit when someone else is at fault for your accident.
You could be entitled to recover the cost of your:
- Healthcare expenses: This could include your emergency room bill, ambulance services, diagnostic testing, medications, surgeries, hospitalizations, physical therapy or other forms of rehab, and any other care related to your crash injuries.
- Future healthcare costs: If your doctors believe you may need ongoing or future treatment, you could also get compensation for these costs.
- Lost income: Your injuries could leave you unable to work. You could have missed paychecks, gig work, or other opportunities to earn income as normal.
- Reduced earning capacity: Some victims may go on to see career decline over the long term. You could seek compensation if you need to take a different job or reduce your hours long after the crash.
- Miscellaneous expenses: From your trips to see a doctor to the cost of purchasing medical devices, your out-of-pocket expenses also add up.
You could even make a recovery for the non-financial losses you faced. These could include:
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
- Scarring and disfigurement
When you handle your case independently, it can be hard to know everything you qualify to seek and how much. However, if you work with a personal injury lawyer, they can explain what you could recover in a settlement or an award and how to get paid after a car accident.
Steps to Take When Seeking Compensation for Your Car Accident Injuries
The hours and days following an accident can feel chaotic and painful. You feel overwhelmed by questions, unsure of what to do next. Bear in mind that taking a few important steps can make all the difference for your case.
If you want to seek compensation for your losses, consider doing the following after a crash:
Get Medical Attention Promptly
As mentioned previously, getting prompt medical attention for your injuries is crucial. In doing so, you can prevent health complications and get started on healing sooner rather than later.
Also, going to see a doctor or going to an emergency room will also document that you suffered injuries in the crash. That creates a link between the accident and your injuries. When you don’t see a doctor for weeks after the accident, the insurance company could argue that your injury resulted from another cause.
Follow Through With Medical Attention
Visiting a doctor is just one way you can lay the foundation for your injury claim. Yet, you should also complete your necessary medical treatment. This may include taking medications as prescribed, attending physical therapy, and undergoing certain procedures.
Doing so prevents the insurer from arguing that your negligence worsened your condition. Also, following your treatment plan helps you reach maximum medical improvement.
Avoid Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Soon after the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may make you a settlement offer. You may think that this is a good sign and happily accept. Unfortunately, signing a settlement agreement too early can have lots of adverse consequences for your case.
The insurer often tries to offer you a lower settlement offer initially. This first offer may not include your future medical costs or your pain and suffering in this amount. So, if you need more medical treatment weeks after accepting a settlement, you may need to pay for them out of pocket.
If you hire a lawyer, they can negotiate a fair amount that reflects your true losses.
Get a Free Case Review
When you get a legal case review from a law firm, they can explain your legal options in detail. For instance, you may not know that you could file a lawsuit or negotiate for a higher payout. A law firm can explain how the financial recovery process works and what an attorney can do to maximize your settlement or award.
Most firms offer these case reviews for free, so there’s no risk or obligation involved in asking your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions from Vehicle Accident Injury Victims
Consider these answers to common concerns injury victims face.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Georgia law notes that immediate family members can initiate a wrongful death action after losing a loved one. For example, the decedent’s spouse can seek recovery for “the full life of the decedent.” If the decedent did not have a spouse, then their children or parents may initiate legal proceedings.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Some injury victims choose to represent themselves. However, the American Bar Association (ABA) advises against this. Often, victims can face challenges or lowball offers during the claims process. With a lawyer on your side, you can push against these setbacks and negotiate for a fair financial recovery.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?
Many injury lawyers work based on contingency, which means that you may not owe anything to get started. With contingency fees, you owe nothing unless the attorney gets results for you.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Get a Consultation
Having experienced an injury in a car accident your next step should be to reach out to a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer would be able to go over your case details and get you started on filing your claims. Contact us today to begin your consultation.