Have you ever been involved in a car accident? I was involved in a car accident in 1998 and my memory of that day still haunts me. It had just started raining and the roads were wet. The light had just turned green as I approached the stopped traffic in front of me as I was slowing down. When traffic wasn’t moving as quickly as I was expecting, I had to come to an abrupt stop and the car behind me was following to close. As I looked up in my rearview, my worst fears were about to come true. The car ran into the back of my SUV. I remember briefly blacking out before looking up to see if I was about to hit the car in front of me.
Disclosure: Please seek medical advice from a doctor if you have questions or concerns about any injuries as a result of a car accident. Once stable contact a personal injury lawyer for questions regarding your specific injuries.
After the accident happened, I remember moving my car to the median to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. I quickly turned around to check on my daughter, who was almost 2, to make sure that she was okay. She was buckled tightly in her car seat and she didn’t show any signs of being injured. Looking back, I probably should have had her check out.
At the scene, I didn’t notice any signs or symptoms of a major injury. A few hours later, I noticed that my neck and back was starting to hurt so I went to the ER to be checked out. The ER performed x-rays and sent me home with several bottles of medication. Around day 3, the pain continued to increase. When I noticed that my pain wasn’t going to go away, I contacted a personal injury lawyer.
Dealing with the medical bills and on-going pain is a scary experience, especially when you are living on a fixed budget. A personal injury lawyer, Hunter Law, P.A., has the experience to deal with the aftermath of a car accident. Plus, the last thing that I needed was to accidentally say the wrong thing to the other parties insurance company.
Enough about my story, we wanted to share with you the different types of injuries that can happen when you are involved in a car accident.
Neck and Back Injuries
A car accident can leave you with neck and back injuries. These injuries can range from mild to severe depending on the severity of the crash. Even if you don’t feel like you are injured or feel any pain, it is best to seek immediate treatment. Sometimes it can take several weeks or even months for injuries to surface from a car accident and without treatment, these injuries could manifest into permanent damage.
The force that is put on your body when you are in a car accident can cause neck and back pain, typically low back. Injuries can be found in the tissue that surrounds your neck or spine. The injuries that are seen frequently occur in the muscles, tendons, facet joints, nerves, and discs. You will need to be seen by a doctor that is familiar with injuries from car accidents.
The damage to facet joints can’t be seen on x-rays or MRIs. A trained orthopedic or pain management doctor can diagnose these injuries using physical palpation.
Whiplash is a common injury that typically occurs when you are involved in a rear-end collision. When your car is struck, your head violently jerks backward against the headrest and thrust forward. It is even possible to hit your head on the steering wheel when your head thrusts forward. This sudden movement causes the muscles and tendons in your neck to stretch or tears depending on the severity of the head movement.
If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, you should be checked by a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms of whiplash:
- stiff neck
- neck pain
- additional pain when moving your neck
- tender or pain felt in your shoulders, upper back or arms
- numbness or tingling that travels down the arm
- fatigue (even your neck/back muscles)
- blurry vision
- problems sleeping
- memory problems
- new or worsening depression symptoms
- difficulty concentrating
Herniated Disc (Bulging Disc)
Your spine has 24 donut-shaped discs. The discs are positioned between the vertebrae. Each disc is made up of a tough connective tissue that is filled with a jelly-like substance. Discs are designed to act as a shock absorber and prevent the vertebrae from rubbing together. A disc isn’t designed to move due to limited space. When you are involved in a car accident, the discs can swell and it can push through the outer layer. A disc may become distorted or bulge. The bulging disc can weaken the outer membrane and can cause the disc to tear. A bulging or torn disc applies pressure to the surrounding nerves. If the disc tears or ruptures it can cause the jelly-like substance to leak out into the spinal cord and causes it to compress surrounding nerves.
A herniated disc is very painful and can cause major complications depending on where the problem disc is located on the spine. It is important to heed the painful warning signals and seek treatment immediately to prevent long-term problems. A car accident can cause herniated discs. If your doctor finds evidence of a problem with your discs, your medical bills can rise very quickly. With proper treatment, it is possible for the disc to heal itself. However, this occasionally doesn’t happen and will require more extensive testing and possibly even spine surgery. Never take “no” or have a doctor tell you that your disc “isn’t that bad” if you are still in pain. Continue to seek answers so you don’t settle too quickly or think that the problem will eventually go away. This is what happened in my personal injury case and now I suffer from major complications because I was told that I was young and my body would eventually heal itself.
A car accident that results in a fire can inflict burns if you are trapped inside of the car or when being pulled out of the burning car. Burns are painful injuries and can be classified based on the severity of the tissue burned.
- First-Degree Burns – Are minor burns that cause injury to the skin’s surface. It causes redness, swelling, and pain.
- Second-Degree Burns – A second-degree burn causes damage to the outer layer and the second layer of skin. It causes painful blisters, swellings, severe pain, and permanent scarring.
- Third-Degree Burns – Third-degree burns cause major damage because it penetrates to the fat layer that is beneath the skin’s surface. It will cause major permanent scarring, possible damage to nerves, feel numbness in the area burned, increased risk for infections, and even life-threatening breathing issues.
You can also receive burns if the airbags deploy and even get burned the friction caused by the seatbelt locking into place.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The tissue surrounding your bones can be injured when you are in a car accident. Soft tissue injuries are harder to diagnose because doctors don’t have imaging to provide evidence of the extent of the injury. They can papillate the area where it hurts but they don’t always understand how much it hurts. Please speak up if you feel that you have soft tissue injuries. When I was injured in my car accident, my personal injury lawyer and doctors never mentioned potential injuries to the soft tissue in my back. It is important that you are honest with your doctor and personal injury lawyer so that they know the extent of your injuries.
Broken bones are a common injury that typically occurs in high-impact collisions. The crash causes an extreme amount of force that is applied to the bones. Too much force or pressure can cause a fracture or severely broken bones that require surgery to correct. If you have broken bones, you will need a good personal injury lawyer to represent you. Part of their representation includes helping you with the medical bills, time off for work recovery, and expenses incurred if you are unable to work.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Car and motorcycle accidents account for half of the new spinal cord injuries every year. While accidents cannot always be prevented, it is important to stay completely, unless the vehicle is on fire, still if you suspect a spinal cord injury or possible damage to your spine until paramedics arrive. The EMT’s have the proper training to be able to help move you safely so that the chances of permanent damage decrease.
Spinal cord injuries can cause permanent disability. Even if you have been evaluated by a doctor at the Emergency room immediately after the accident, it is still important to watch for the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury. An injury may not show up immediately. The symptoms of a spinal cord injury or damage to your spine, surrounding soft tissue, ligaments, tendons, and discs, can even come on slowly.
It isn’t uncommon for car accidents to cause emotional problems. While most people tend to focus on their physical injuries, we wanted to make sure that you are aware of the emotional problems that may arise after a motor vehicle accident. Look for the following symptoms of emotional problems:
- mood swings
- feel humiliated
- sleep problems
- crying spells
- lack of appetite
- no longer interested in things you enjoy
Don’t feel guilty for feeling the emotion side effects that are a direct result of an auto accident. It has been almost 20 years since my accident and I am still fearful of being in a wreck. I don’t make a very good passenger either as a result because I am not in control of the car.
Internal bleeding can be a life-threatening injury and needs immediate examination to determine where the bleeding is at so that it can be stopped. If you suspect that you have internal bleeding or injuries try to relax and stay as calm as possible until EMTs arrive on the scene. They can do a quick examination and get you to the emergency room quickly for an evaluation by a doctor. Don’t be surprised if they cut your clothes off because they don’t want to move you until they know that you are stable. If you do suffer from internal injuries, you will need a personal injury attorney to help you with the medical bills, expenses, and pain and suffering.
Hiring the right personal attorney is important if you were involved in a car accident that left you with injuries. Most personal injury lawyers don’t require payment upfront and only get paid when you get paid. Car accidents can be devastating and you don’t have to go through it alone.