Matthew Minner | January 9, 2021 | Car Accident
Your compensation after a car accident relates directly to the injuries you’ve suffered. Your injuries, in turn, tie directly to the type of accident.
A full understanding of your injuries will help you receive the medical treatment you need. It will also help you and your personal injury lawyer get a settlement, or damages award, that compensates you fairly.
Here are some facts about car accident injuries and how they might affect your personal injury case.
What Happens in a Car Accident
Car accidents transfer a massive amount of energy. The energy of a vehicle depends on its mass and speed. This explains why truck accidents will often cause more damage and worse injuries than most ordinary car accidents.
Another important fact about collisions comes directly from Newton’s laws of motion. These laws state that an object in motion wants to remain in motion. And an object at rest wants to stay at rest.
When you collide with something at 30 miles per hour, your body wants to continue to travel at 30 miles per hour until it hits something. Your body might collide with the seat belt, airbag, door, window, steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield to slow it down.
When someone collides with you while you are stopped, your body wants to remain stopped. Your seat, door, steering wheel, dashboard, or center console will strike you with an enormous force to push your body into motion.
In either case, the force exerted on your body to change its motion can tear, break, and crush it.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Each of these accidents is associated with a few common types of injuries.
Broken bones happen when a sudden change in direction causes your body to hit the inside of the vehicle. Side collisions could break bones in the arms and legs. Seat belt impacts could break ribs, collar bones, and vertebrae. Impact with the steering wheel, side window, or windshield could break facial bones.
Injured people with broken bones usually recover fully within a few months; but some breaks, like a fractured vertebra or skull, might cause lifelong problems.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains occur when muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretch and tear. These injuries result from the twisting, bending, and snapping forces that your body experiences in a collision.
These tears might be partial or complete. Severe partial tears or a complete tear might require surgery to repair and may even lead to permanent disabilities.
Whiplash is a neck strain that occurs most commonly in rear-end and front-end collisions. As the collision happens, the neck tries to hold the head from being whipped forward or backward. But the enormous force exerted overcomes the neck’s strength and strains the neck muscles.
Whiplash can have some unusual symptoms, particularly if the nerves in the neck are impacted. Some of the symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain, stiffness, and weakness
- Numbness, pain, or weakness in the shoulders, arms, and hands
- Dizziness and nausea
Minor whiplash may go away with rest. Severe cases might require medication to control the pain and physical therapy to restore muscle function.
The back is made up of muscles, special bones called vertebrae, and intervertebral discs. Like whiplash, back injuries often occur in car accidents due to the body twisting, bending, or snapping.
Some of the back injuries that occur in car accidents include:
- Strained back muscles: Collisions can damage back muscles, leading to pain when walking, sitting, or even laying down. Strained back muscles can be treated with physical therapy.
- Broken vertebrae: Since the vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine, fractures can lead to bone chips in the spinal column or compression of the spinal cord as the vertebra slips out of place. The pain may not end after the fracture heals if the spinal cord is affected.
- Damaged disc: Discs are the spongy shock absorbers that rest between vertebrae. During a collision, they can be damaged causing the disc to compress, bulge (herniate), or tear. Damaged discs cause severe pain if they press on the spinal cord. Physical therapy can help reduce pain from damaged discs, but disc injuries will often last for the rest of your life.
Back injuries can have devastating financial effects. A back injury may prevent you from working or may even require you to change jobs.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Back injuries can lead to spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord contains many of the major nerves. When it is injured, you may experience weakness, numbness, pain, or even paralysis.
Spinal cord injuries can also cause a loss of muscle control. This might manifest as a loss of coordination or balance. You might experience difficulty urinating or moving your bowels.
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries cannot be repaired. As a result, it is likely that you will experience the effects of a spinal cord injury for the rest of your life.
When you bounce around inside your vehicle during a car accident, your brain bounces around inside your skull. A traumatic brain injury can result from this bouncing.
Brain injuries can also occur when the skull is penetrated. For example, a skull fracture can push a bone fragment into the brain.
Finally, brain injuries can happen when the brain is starved of oxygen. Severe bleeding or an injury that halts breathing temporarily can lead to a brain injury.
Any type of brain injury can lead to lifelong cognitive, behavioral, and mental problems.
Getting Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
Kentucky has a no-fault insurance system. This means you must file a claim with your insurance company to recover compensation for your personal injuries.
To support a claim, you should:
- Obtain a diagnosis: Always see a doctor after an accident. Insurance companies will require medical records to prove your injury.
- Seek treatment: To pay or reimburse you for treatment, the insurance company needs to know what treatment you received and its cost.
- Speak to a lawyer: Personal injury lawyers know how to negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your car accident injuries. Remember, some car accident injuries might affect you for the rest of your life.
Car accidents can have severe effects on your finances and health. Understanding your car accident injuries can help the evaluation of what you need from your personal injury case.