The gas-powered engine gave us the freedom to travel and a method to transport goods to such an extent that this one invention reshaped our modern society. However, there is a dark side. With vehicles ranging from commercial trucks to compact cars navigating thousands of miles of road, various forms of car crashes will happen and injuries are inevitable. When you are injured in a car crash, it is disorienting and confusing.
You need medical attention and your injuries may limit what you are now able to do. It is a stressful time and on top of everything, the medical bills put a strain on your finances. If you were injured by the negligence of others, it makes sense to file a claim to seek compensation for your medical bills and losses suffered as a result of the car crash. It is a complicated procedure to file and defend a claim, and when you are injured in a car wreck, it is wise to seek help.
The best car accident lawyers know how to assemble, present, and defend a claim and maximize your chance for a fair settlement. The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky offer a free, no obligation initial consultation to review your case. We can scrutinize the details and assess whether or not you have a strong case. You have nothing to lose to talk with us, but maybe you have something gain.
Factors that Influence the Type and Severity of Injuries in a Car Crash
Every car accident and the ensuing injuries are unique because the factors at play during a crash are diverse and numerous. This is a complex topic and there are detailed studies on the variables that affect the severity of two car crashes. But in summary, some of the variables at play include questions like:
- Were the occupants wearing seat belts?
- Did the car get hit from the rear, side or front?
- Were the occupants facing forward or was their head or body turned to the side or back of the car?
- Was it a low-speed collision or a high-speed crash?
- Did the car have airbags?
- What was the weather?
- How old were the occupants?
- What type of vehicles were involved?
- Where did the cars collide? (e.g. in an intersection, on a highway, on a dirt road, etc.)
- Were fixed objects involved? (e.g. light poles, road signs, guardrails, etc.)
And one UK study found that the important variables are determined by whether you are driving in a non-urban or urban area. In short, the number of variables dictating if, how, and the degree you are injured are so diverse and numerous that just about any type of injury could result from a car accident. So, the variables are almost limitless and the dynamics of what happens to passengers is being studied every day to better protect car occupants. But the list of injuries commonly suffered during a car crash remains extensive as demonstrated in car crashes every day. Based on the wounds treated in hospitals over decades of time, there are injuries that can be labeled as common to car crashes.
A Variety of Injuries Can Result During a Car Accident
The automobile was invented in 1885 and the first recorded car accident occurred in 1891, and not surprisingly both men in the car were injured in the wreck. Car crashes have been with us for a long time and experience has shown us that a number of injuries are possible when a car is crashed. Some of the possible injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Head and Neck Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Back and Spine Injuries
- Chest Injuries
- Arm and Leg Injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Disfiguring Facial Injuries and Scars
- Eye injuries
- Limb Loss and Amputation
- Knee, foot and ankle injuries
- Shoulder and Wrist injuries
- Wrist Injuries
- Lacerations and bruises
- Crush Injuries
This is a long list, but remember there are still a number of other possible injuries that one can suffer during a car crash that are not on this list. If you are unfortunately injured in a car crash, you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer and review your case. The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation. You have nothing to risk by talking to them, but if they take our case, you gain a valuable partner and improve your chances of a successful claim. They are veteran accident lawyers who bring years of experience and knowledge to help you navigate the convoluted legal process and defend your rights.
Five Common Car Accident Injuries
Many analyses of car crash injuries break the long list into two broad categories: impact and penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are those broken bones, crushed ribs, or the concussion suffered when your body parts crash into the steering wheel, windshield, headrest, dash, door, foot pedals, or any other hard surface inside the car. Bruises, broken bones, and concussions are examples of injuries that can result from impact. Penetration is when glass, or other loose objects inside the car cut, lacerate, or scrape the skin. These types of injury range from minor cuts and scrapes to the deeper lacerations that require stiches, staples, or skin glue. But if you look at the actual car crash injuries that appear commonly in emergency rooms, you will find the five most common injuries often associated with a car accident are:
- Soft tissue sprains, strains, and tears,
- Scrapes and cuts,
- Head trauma and injuries,
- Chest injuries, and
- Arm and leg injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The National Cancer Institute defines soft tissue as “muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body.” So, soft tissue injuries are the sprains and strains of the ligaments, tendons, and fibrous tissues, or certain muscles or nerves that support the body. One of the most common soft tissue injuries associated with car wrecks is whiplash, caused by violent whipping of the neck muscles and tendons that are strained, sprained or torn. But whiplash is a vague, outdated term and the soft tissue injuries to the neck are now often referred to as cervical strains/sprains or hyperextension. Soft tissue injuries are also responsible for a number of back problems. The amount of soft tissue in the back is significant and twisting, pulling, jerking, or tearing of the soft tissue in the back is also common in car accidents. Symptoms of soft tissue injury include:
- Stiffness in the neck
- Sharp neck pain
- Back pain or difficulty bending/moving
- Cognitive issues, such as problems with memory and concentration, or blurry vision
With the excitement just after a car accident, and the adrenaline or shock your body may be experiencing, soft tissue injuries are not always noticeable after a car crash. The damage and pain may not become obvious until hours or days after the wreck. So, if you are offered medical attention at the crash scene, take it. You may be hurt worse than you think. Another problem with diagnosing, and documenting, soft tissue injuries is that they do not show in X-rays or other medical imaging tests. However, it is important to make sure you see your doctor to get the proper medical care. Soft tissue injuries can cause substantial pain and discomfort. Soreness, swelling, bruising, and stiffness can be expected and you will require medical treatment. But it is also important to document the injuries in case you need to file a claim. Part of filing a claim involves proving your damages and losses. You saying your neck hurts will not be enough. You need to be able to show what injuries occurred, and where, as well as how severe they were. Unlike a broken bone which can be photographed via an X-ray, soft tissue cannot be documented in a similar black-and-white manner. Without a medical professional confirming your injuries, it becomes more difficult to “prove” your injuries resulted from the car accident, and how severely they impacted your life.
Scrapes and Cuts
When there is a car crash, loose objects inside the car can become projectiles rocketing through the car’s interior. This may include things like cell phones, eyeglasses, purses, dash-mounted GPS systems or dashcams, etc. If any of these loose items crash into you, they can easily cut and bruise your skin, or cause injury to eyes, brain trauma, or broken bones. Broken glass may also fly around in the car cabin and any broken glass is an obvious danger. Modern cars use tempered or safety glass to reduce this risk, but cuts from glass are still common in a car crash and glass can cause deep lacerations, surface cuts, and scrapes.
Cuts or scrapes can also result when an accident sets off your airbag. The action of the bag deploying and your landing into it is a rapid, harsh event. And when an occupant crunches into the airbag, they are not landing in a fluffy pillow. An airbag deploys rapidly, and “in about 1/20th of a second at an average of 144 mph and as fast as 210 mph. Airbags installed prior to March 1997 likely use up to 1200 lb of pressure, while second-generation or lower-powered airbags generate 25% to 30% less.” Abrasions are common when an occupant impacts an airbag. In addition, the inflation device releases heat and burns are sometimes seen when the airbag is activated.
Some scrapes and cuts can be relatively minor and require no medical treatment. But more serious injuries can result in loss of blood and may require stitches. It is also important to treat and bandage cuts or lacerations to prevent infection. You may get treatment for cuts and scrapes at the accident site or in an emergency room, but it is not uncommon to see future visits to your doctor’s office. For example, you may need to have stitches removed. And your cuts or lacerations can become infected and may need attention.
Cuts and scrapes can be a major disruption to your life. When bandages are needed for lacerations or other serious cuts, the impairment from the bulky gauze or tape may make it hard to work. Plus, you need to keep the bandages clean by frequent changing of the dressings. Cuts and scrapes are often depicted as minor and worth worrying about. But as with any injury suffered in a car accident caused by the carelessness of others, you need to document your cut and scrape injuries, preferably with your doctor.
You will also need to record all the medical expense and all the related expenditures. A serious laceration or cut can note also impact to your usual quality of life, for which you may be able to receive compensation. If you need to miss work because of your injuries, you may be able to collect those losses through a claim. Record your expenses and losses diligently and organize your paperwork, you will need it if you file a claim for your scrapes, cuts, or lacerations.
Head injuries can range from relatively minor to severe. As already noted, the heads of the car occupants can experience sudden and unnatural movements causing muscle strains in the neck and back. But an impact with a window or dashboard can cause scrapes and bruises on the head or even deep lacerations. Severe head movements or impacts can cause a closed head injury where the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged.
Minor closed head injuries often result in concussions, while severe cases can result in brain damage. And in some cases, the skull will be penetrated or fractured. Other head injuries can involve damage to the eyes. Minor injuries might be a simple black eye or minor cuts to the eyelid or eyebrow. But the eyes are sensitive and they can be more seriously damaged with things like:
- Damage to the surface of your eye (“corneal abrasions”), which are painful, and may affect your vision.
- Lacerations, even on your eyelid, can cause serious damage to your eye.
- A fracture to the bone around your eye (orbital fractures).
- Retina detachment.
- Loss of vision.
Our eyes are important and if you think you have any sort of damage to your eyes, see the appropriate doctor immediately. For that matter, with any head injury, make sure you get the needed medical attention from the proper doctor. With the head housing our eyes, brain, teeth, etc. you may need to see a dentist, eye doctor, brain specialist, etc. to get the suitable care.
Head injuries, such as brain trauma, can be serious and the medical bills can become large. Plus, many victims need future care for the rest of their life. You have a right to collect for these damages if the injuries were caused the neglect of others, but it can be hard to collect. The personal injury lawyers know how to present and defend large serious claims and you should consider retaining their service.
The steering wheel is a major source of chest injuries for drivers. In the sudden stop of a car crash, the body is thrown forward and if the seat belt or airbag does not stop you in time, you so not have far to go before you collide into the steering wheel with your chest. The resulting injuries may be minor in the form of contusions or bruises, but can also be more serious resulting in broken ribs or internal injuries. The second situation that commonly causes chest injuries is when the passenger impacts the dash. The dash is further from them and they must travel forward further to impact the dash than the driver does to impact the steering wheel. Also, the airbag is often larger on the passenger side, but not necessarily more effective. This means that the passenger and driver have different experiences in a car crash that deploys the airbags.
And they may see very different degrees and types of chest injuries. The third frequent source of chest injuries is the seat belt. When you are in an accident, the force against the seat belt can be large. If you have the shoulder harness too high, it can cause abrasions to the neck. In hard impacts, the belt may cause bruises or broken ribs or collar bones. In some accidents, the seat belt can even crack the sternum.
Chest injuries are concerning since they may also impact the heart and lungs. (It is common for passengers with lap belts to also receive spinal fractures.) So, while saving many lives, the restraint offered by the seatbelt can injure you in a violent wreck. With all chest injuries, get medical attention immediately. Complications can result if chest injuries are not treated properly and you may not realize the seriousness of your chest injury until a few days after the accident. Also, like any injury incurred from a car accident, you should organize and record all your medical bills and expenditures related to the chest injuries.
Arm and Leg Injuries
The same forces that jerk and throw a person’s head about in a car crash will also act on arms and legs. For example, if your car is involved in a side impact, your arms and legs might be slammed into the door. A car occupant’s legs have little room for movement and it is common for knees to hit the dashboard or seats in front of them. In head-on collisions, leg injuries are common as the legs are forced up or lurch towards the chest, colliding with the steering wheel or dash causing bruises, cuts, and scrapes. Broken bones can also result.
Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to your arms and legs might be meager bruises or scrapes, but sprains and even broken bones can result. The driver’s wrist and elbows can experience large forces and as the steering wheel lurches, causing things like soft tissue sprains or strain or broken bones. And passenger arms can be injured on dashboards or the seat in front of them. Keep in mind that some injuries are not readily apparent following a car accident.
Depending on the nature of the arm or leg injury, it may take a while for symptoms to appear. So, if you are in a car crash caused by the neglect of others, it is best to seek medical treatment for even the slightest discomfort or early indication of injury. And with all injuries suffered in a car wreck, keep meticulous records. All the receipts and information that can document your direct expenses and losses caused by the accident will be required if you decide to file a claim.