According to the NHTSA (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811851.pdf), nearly 17,000 American lives were saved in 2012 by seat belts, frontal air bags, motorcycle helmets, minimum drinking-age laws, and child restraints. Although the victims of these accidents survived, many suffered a variety of injuries common to car accidents.
Contrary to popular belief, apparent damage to the vehicle does not necessarily correspond with the severity of the personal injuries or the fatality rate. Where a driver or passenger is located within the vehicle relative to the point of impact is much more likely to play a role in the extent of their injuries. Some people escape from mangled and twisted wrecks with barely a scratch, while others suffer long-term pain or are killed in what appears to be a minor fender-bender.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, it is important to see a doctor ASAP, even if you do not feel or see immediate injury. Your adrenaline rises during the incident, and you may not feel pain until hours later, when the excitement has died down. A doctor can evaluate whether x-rays or MRIs are needed, and his professional opinion may be vital if legal action is pursued by any of the parties involved in the accident.
Some common injuries which are caused by motor vehicle accidents are obvious; cuts and lacerations, for example, from glass, sheet metal, or projectile objects, are immediately apparent although they may not be severe enough to need medical treatment. Bone fractures may be obvious, as well, particularly compound fractures which break through the skin, or transverse fractures, in which the bone is broken completely in half by the force of impact.
There are many injuries, however, which may not be readily apparent. Whiplash is one of the most commonly reported injuries, often occurring in low-speed, rear-end collisions. It occurs more often in women than in men, but the effects may not manifest themselves until weeks after the accident. Whiplash is associated with a wide-range of symptoms, including neck tenderness or stiffness, headaches and dizziness, blurred vision, numbness in the hands and fingers, and cognitive difficulties. The majority of patients who experience whiplash may still be suffering from the symptoms up to six months after the accident.
Like whiplash, other injuries to the spine, back, shoulder, and neck may be difficult to diagnose but can cause long-lasting pain and suffering. Your doctor is best qualified to determine whether an x-ray or MRI should be scheduled or if you should see a specialist.
Broken bones are quite common in car accidents, but often go unnoticed. Hairline, greenstick, and buckle fractures are very common in younger car accident victims, whose bones are softer and more pliable. The area may feel bruised and tender soon after an accident, but a physician should be consulted to determine whether there is a breakage.
Internal injuries in car accidents are usually caused by blunt trauma, where the body comes into contact with an object, such as the steering wheel. Abdominal organs, such as the spleen and stomach may be compressed in an accident, which can cause rupturing, or the lungs may be punctured by a broken rib. Any of these may cause internal bleeding which may quickly become life-threatening if left untreated.
Closed-head injuries are another common form of car accident injury. While there may be no visible lacerations, the force of impact in a car accident can cause damage to the brain. The damage may range from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Bruising or swelling caused by the accident may not be felt until later, so in the case of any head injury, evaluation by a physician immediately after a car accident is vital.
The emotional stress of being in a car accident should also not be ignored. Anyone who has been in an accident may suffer psychological trauma, especially in the case of serious or fatal incidents. Many car accident victims are debilitated by depression, nightmares, phobias, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. A full medical examination after a car accident should include an evaluation of the victim’s psychological state.
This overview is not intended to substitute for a doctor’s evaluation, rather to point out the necessity of seeing a doctor immediately after you are involved in any type of motor vehicle accident. After you’ve been examined by a doctor, please call the car accident Trial Lawyers at Dolman Law Group at (727)451-6900. We can help you navigate the complicated legal issues that may be yet to come.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765