Severe Car Accident Injuries – What qualifies as a serious injury?
According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in car accidents on a national level. Because there are so many different variations as far as types of collisions and car accidents, the potential resulting injuries are just as wide-ranging in nature. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are certain broad categories of injuries that are more common in comparison to others. They vary in terms of their severity, the specific part or parts of the body affected, type of injury, their resulting consequences as well as what the required course of medical treatment involves.
The type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car wreck can be evaluated by analyzing a number of factors, such as:
- Were the individuals involved in the car accident wearing their seat belts?
- What kind of impact or collision was involved?
- Which direction were the vehicle occupant’s head and body facing at the time of the collision (i.e., straight ahead or turned in a certain direction)?
- What speed did the collision take place at (i..e, low speed or high-speed crash)?
- Did the vehicle involved in the car accident have airbags and did they deploy?
Prior to discussing each of the specific categories of injuries involved in a car accident (body injuries), it is useful to note that there are also two broad, general car accident categories: (i) impact injuries and (ii) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are often sustained as a result of the vehicle occupant’s body being hit or struck through forceful impact by some part of the car’s interior. In contrast, penetrating injuries have more of an internal as opposed to an external impact, often causing open wounds, cuts, scrapes, and burns, to name a few. They are commonly caused by loose or unrestrained objects such as shattering glass at the time of impact.
Victims involved in car accidents can suffer a wide variety of serious injuries, resulting in extreme pain.
Some of the most serious injuries reported after car accidents include:
Limb Loss and Amputation (Arm and Leg Injuries From Car Accidents)
Amputation refers to the loss of a limb or digit (leg, arm, hand, finger, toe, or amputation of a leg) during a vehicle accident and involves the amputation of the injured limb or digit. Although amputations are relatively uncommon, accidents cause amputations with notable regularity. Human bodies often fail to withstand the impact of serious accidents. Because all motor vehicles are comprised of glass and sharp metal, body parts can easily be cut or amputated in the event of a crash.
Undoubtedly, the experience of losing a limb, whether it is an arm, hand, or foot, during (or as a result of) a car accident is terrifying. The extensive physical effects are easily identifiable; however, the less apparent psychological impacts can also be severe. Undergoing any sort of limb loss and/or amputation presents its own unique difficulties and is traumatic in its own way, (i.e., losing a foot but not a finger). Traumatic limb amputation following a car accident has been shown to lead to numerous psychiatric disorders and an inability to support yourself.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
Our spinal cords work alongside our brains to form our central nervous system. The brain acts as the command center of the body. The spinal cord allows the brain to transmit signals to the body (and for those signals to be transmitted back again). Spinal cord health is essential to maintaining cognitive and physical functioning.
Multiple areas of the spine are at risk of injury during a car accident. The vertebrae, ligaments, and discs of the spinal column can all be negatively impacted in many ways. When a wreck impacts the spinal cord, it can permanently alter a victim’s strength and ability to detect sensation.
Spinal cord injuries are graded based on their impact on a victim. Complete spinal cord injuries are the most severe form of spinal cord injuries. Complete spinal cord injuries occur when a victim loses all or most of their ability to control physical movement below the injury site. Spinal cord injuries can lead to:
- Loss of mobility;
- Muscle spasms;
- Loss or weakening of sensation;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Paralysis; and
Head and Brain Injuries
Much like spinal cord injuries, head and brain injuries can vary significantly in severity. Some of these injuries, while dangerous and painful, often prove to be relatively harmless long-term. Victims who sustain mild head and brain injuries are extremely fortunate. Many others are not so lucky.
Head and brain injuries can cause lifelong impacts and even death. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, may involve sudden damage to the brain requiring life-saving surgery or intensive rehabilitation. Victims’ emotions and personalities can even change after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. Many primary injuries (the ones that occur at the moment of impact) involve specific lobes of the brain. Others affect the entire structure of the brain.
Other Common and Possible Injuries After Car Accident – Minor Car Accident Injuries
While an injury’s severity can determine how life-altering a victim’s accident experience is, it’s important to avoid ignoring injuries that may seem less severe. While the following injuries are not likely to result in death or immense harm, they may still have lasting impacts. Some common car accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: Whiplash is a type of neck injury. It occurs when a person’s head moves back and forth too quickly or violently. Many victims of whiplash experience their necks cracking like a whip when they sustain injuries. Some people with whiplash recover within a few weeks. Others may continue to suffer from chronic neck pain for the rest of their lives.
- Cuts and scrapes: Large lacerations can be life-threatening. However, a large majority of accident victims manage to walk away from crashes with only minor cuts and scrapes. It’s important to ensure that you care for these injuries properly and seek medical attention as necessary. Injuries may easily become infected or more severe if left untreated during the healing process.
- Fractured bones: Bone fractures may prove life-changing, but most are considered minor injuries. Minor fractures can still be exceptionally painful compared to more catastrophic instances of shattering. Broken bones that aren’t immediately detectable or don’t break the skin are often much simpler and easy to treat. A leg fracture is an example of one of the most common examples of such car crash injuries.
- Traumatic brain injury: Much like bone fractures, TBIs range in severity. Many traumatic brain injuries cause long-term health problems or disabilities. Others, like minor concussions, may prove temporarily dangerous but otherwise non-serious for victims.
- Soft tissue injuries: The term “soft tissue injuries” is intentionally vague. These injuries can afflict virtually any muscle, ligament, or tendon during the course of an accident. Whiplash is one type of soft tissue injury. ACL injuries are another example of a soft tissue injury that occurs frequently.
Driving Behaviors Can Increase the Chance of Serious Injury
Many driving practices lead to car accidents, injuries, and even death. To avoid traffic accidents, first and foremost, one should adhere to the basic rules of the road. Abide by posted speed limits, navigate based on information provided by road signs, and avoid aggressive behavior. Many drivers fail to follow these basic rules, posing a tremendous risk to others on the roadways.
Drivers should take steps to operate their vehicles cautiously and safely. If you notice another driver acting erratically or not paying attention, you should distance yourself from them. Certain scenarios may even warrant phoning local authorities to report suspected driving under the influence.
Regardless of who’s driving questionably or why, here’s an overview of some driving behaviors that might lead to serious injury:
- Distracted driving: Texting, eating, fiddling with the radio or some other part of the vehicle, talking on the phone.
- Impaired driving: Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Speeding: Many drivers speed; others use speeding as an aggressive driving tactic.
- Road rage or aggressive driving | Not every instance of aggression indicates road rage, but both pose a real threat to nearby vehicles.
Why Do Serious Injury Accidents Occur?
We rely heavily on our automobiles every day. They provide mobility, enabling us to get to and from home, school, work, and other obligations and appointments. Automobiles make it easy to head to the store to grab ingredients for dinner or supplies for a surprise party. If it weren’t for cars, many of us would go years without seeing some of our most cherished loved ones. Undoubtedly, we rely on our vehicles for a myriad of daily tasks and special events. However, it’s important to recognize the dangers associated with these useful and powerful machines.
The average car weighs more than two tons. That’s over four thousand pounds of metal and heavy machinery. A truck may weigh 20 times that.
When other drivers demonstrate negligence or recklessness on the road, their vehicles can quickly turn into threatening weapons. Drivers must acknowledge and understand the risks that will face on their local roadways.
Car accident victims may suffer a wide range of serious car accident injuries varying in severity. Accidents may involve relatively minor injuries or possibly, severe, bad car accident injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation. The more severe the injuries are, typically the more likely the injuries are to require lifelong accommodations for victims. A critical injury is one that can result in the loss of senses, mobility, or basic physical abilities. Below, we’ve outlined common factors that influence the severity of an accident and the resulting injuries.
Important Car Accident Statistics
To understand how car accidents cause serious injuries, you must be aware of the prevalence of accidents and common causes. It’s difficult to understand the gravity of a situation without context. Here’s a roundup of some of the most shocking statistics concerning car accidents and injuries:
- More than 160,000 injury crashes occur throughout Florida every year.
- More than 10 percent can be classified as incapacitating injury crashes.
- National lifetime crash injury costs exceed $18 billion.
- The costs of lifetime work lost due to accident injury total $33 billion.
- Men are hospitalized more often than women following a crash.
- Over three million people in the United States are injured during car accidents each year.
There is no doubt that motor vehicle accidents are a major source of a variety of injuries every year. Whether in Florida or elsewhere, you face the risk of falling victim to traumatic and life-changing injuries when operating a motor vehicle. The statistics mentioned above allow drivers to become aware of the inherent risks of car accidents. They also provide information regarding the adverse effects of motor vehicle accidents.
Most Common Types of Car Accidents and the Serious Injuries They Cause
There are limitless scenarios that may involve two or more vehicles colliding with one another. Some types of vehicle accidents, however, are known to be exceptionally dangerous. Rollover, side-impact, head-on, and rear-end collisions all place vehicle occupants at increased risk of serious injury or death. More serious crashes tend to expose vehicle occupants to the increased impact of the force associated with the nature of the motor vehicle accident.
Rollover accidents are inherently complex and violent. Commonly, these types of motor vehicle accidents end up in mind-blowing compilation videos show on the news and on social media. The likelihood of a rollover hinges heavily on the type of vehicle involved in a crash. SUVs, for example, have a high center of gravity, which increases the likelihood of rollover accidents when compared to smaller sedans. Additionally, the behavior of drivers, as well as road and weather conditions may increase the risk of rollover.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that almost 85 percent of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle crashes. Many drivers operating larger vehicles experience a rollover after attempting to perform unexpected emergency or last-minute maneuvers. However, rollovers are also common in accidents involving multiple vehicles.
Rollover accidents cause serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, and amputation.
The terms broadside or T-bone collisions are used to refer to side-impact collisions. Side-impact collisions are extremely dangerous and can cause extensive damage. During a side-impact collision, one vehicle impacts the side of one or more other vehicles where the vehicle doors are located. By their very nature, these crashes present a unique risk to drivers and passengers. Another vehicle makes contact with your vehicle in the exact spot where you or your passengers are sitting. Unsurprisingly, this type of accident significantly increases the risk of serious injury for vehicle occupants.
The majority of side-impact collisions occur at intersections or in parking lots. In these situations, vehicles naturally travel perpendicular to one other, increasing the possibility of side-impact collisions.
Head-on collisions can also prove to be exceptionally dangerous, especially to drivers and front-seat passengers. When two vehicles’ front ends collide, it presents an immediate risk of fatality. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported a 58 percent fatality rate for vehicle occupants involved in crashes involving frontal impact.
Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents that regularly occur on roadways. They can occur in a variety of situations where vehicles are moving in close proximity to one another, including at stop signs, traffic intersections, and while in heavy traffic. Rear-end collisions range in terms of severity, from minor fender benders to severe and fatal car crashes causing serious injuries. Whiplash is perhaps one of the most frequently sustained injuries in rear-end collisions, along with other types of neck and back injuries, head injuries, and soft tissue injuries.
Commercial Vehicles and Trucks Cause Some of the Worst Car Crash Injuries
Commercial vehicles and trucks pose significantly higher risks on the road due to their exceptionally large size and weight. This is particularly applicable in situations where the collision takes place between a large commercial vehicle and a small personal car, such as when the truck hits a significantly smaller vehicle. These types of serious injury accidents tend to result in damage and injuries which can only be described as disastrous and potentially even fatal. The serious injuries in these types of crashes can include anything ranging from traumatic head injuries, broken and/or crushed bone injuries, injuries to the spinal cord, severe burns, and in some instances, are as drastic as hazardous chemical exposure depending upon what type of cargo that particular commercial vehicle is carrying.
Did You Suffer a Serious Injury in an Auto Accident? A Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Many victims find themselves unsure of which steps to take after experiencing a serious car accident. This is especially true for individuals who have sustained injuries and particularly true for those suffering more serious injuries. Undoubtedly, victims of a car accident will experience immense physical and emotional stress. The last thing on a victim’s mind is contacting an attorney.
What most people fail to understand is that a car accident attorney can help take some of the stress off your shoulders, so you can focus on your recovery. Empathetic and trustworthy legal professionals aren’t interested in taking advantage of you. Rather they want to make themselves available to protect you from the people who are. Entities who may have it in their best interest to take advantage of you include insurance companies or other organizations that may be responsible for damages. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the better prepared you’ll be to fight for your rights.
Retaining a licensed and knowledgeable car accident attorney can:
- Simplify the legal process;
- Make it easier to seek and receive medical treatment and chiropractic care;
- Increase your likelihood of success in court;
- Allow you to obtain greater compensation for emotional and physical damages; and
- Empower you to stand up for your rights.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765