As you get behind the wheel of your vehicle each day, you likely don’t think much about the potential consequences of an auto accident. However, car crashes remain an unfortunate risk that comes with operating a motor vehicle. While fender benders and minor collisions are common, severe accidents can lead to life-changing injuries. As a driver or passenger, it’s important to understand some of the worst types of injuries that can result from a serious car accident. A car accident lawyer can help evaluate your injuries and damages.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are among the worst possible outcomes from a car accident. They can have devastating and long-lasting effects.
Concussions are a common type of traumatic brain injury from car crashes. They occur when the brain slams into the skull, causing bruising and swelling. Concussions often lead to symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. While concussions are usually not life-threatening, repeat head injuries can cause permanent damage.
More severe brain injuries like cerebral contusions or intracranial hemorrhages require immediate medical attention. Cerebral contusions are bruises to the brain tissue that can impair a person’s movement, speech, vision, or memory. Intracranial hemorrhages are bleeding within the skull that puts pressure on the brain. These catastrophic injuries frequently necessitate surgery to relieve swelling and may require rehabilitation to regain function.
In the worst cases, extensive brain damage can have devastating consequences like long-term comas, permanent vegetative states, or even death. The physical, cognitive and psychological impacts on victims and their loved ones are tremendous.
Protecting one’s head and brain should be a top priority for all vehicle occupants. Seat belts, airbags, and avoiding distractions while driving are the best ways to minimize the likelihood of these traumatic and often irreversible injuries in a collision. No one deserves to suffer the painful aftermath of a serious head or brain injury that could have been prevented.
Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries
Neck and spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating car accident injuries. These sensitive areas of the body control critical functions, so damage can cause life-altering impairment.
The neck supports the head and allows it to move, so neck injuries like strains, sprains or fractures can cause pain, restricted mobility and chronic discomfort. More severe neck injuries like ruptured disks or nerve damage may lead to numbness, weakness or paralysis in the arms, hands and fingers.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord transmits signals from the brain to the rest of the body, so injuries can cut off communication between the brain and parts of the body. This can cause full or partial loss of movement and sensation including paralysis, incontinence, and loss of bowel/bladder control. Severe spinal cord injuries may require emergency surgery to stabilize the spine and prevent permanent disability.
If you experience neck or back pain, numbness or weakness in the extremities, or loss of bowel/bladder control after a car accident, seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment of spinal injuries is critical to preventing long-term impairment. You should also consult with a personal injury attorney regarding your legal options for pursuing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
Chest and abdominal injuries are some of the worst injuries you can sustain in a car accident. The torso contains many vital organs, so any trauma to this area of the body can be life-threatening.
Impact from a collision can rupture organs like the spleen, kidneys, liver or intestines, causing internal bleeding. This often requires emergency surgery to locate and stop the source of bleeding. Without prompt treatment, blood loss can lead to organ failure or death.
The force of an impact may fracture one or more ribs. Broken ribs can puncture lungs, causing pneumothorax (collapsed lung). The pain from broken ribs alone can be severe, making it difficult to breathe, cough or move around. Fractured ribs typically heal on their own over 6 to 8 weeks with rest, bracing, and pain medication. However, hospitalization and chest tubes may be required for a punctured lung.
Traumatic Aortic Dissection
A particularly dangerous chest injury is a traumatic aortic dissection, which occurs when the aorta, the main artery carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart, tears open. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery to prevent rupture and massive internal bleeding. Even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, traumatic aortic dissections have a high mortality rate.
Any injury to the chest or abdomen, whether visible or not, should be evaluated immediately by emergency responders following an accident. What may seem like minor pain or discomfort could be a sign of a life-threatening condition requiring emergency care. When in doubt, call 911. It is always better to be safe in these situations. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of chest and abdominal injuries is critical to preventing disability and saving lives.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Broken bones and fractures are some of the most severe injuries that can result from a car accident. The impact of a collision transfers a tremendous amount of energy to the human body that can cause bones to break on impact or be crushed under the weight of the vehicle.
The most common broken bones from car accidents are:
- Ribs: The ribs protect many vital internal organs, so broken ribs can lead to punctured lungs or other organ damage.
- Legs: Breaks to the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), or fibula (calf bone) often require surgery and a long recovery process.
- Arms: Broken arms, especially upper arm (humerus) or forearm (radius and ulna) fractures, may need plates and screws to heal properly.
- Pelvis: A broken pelvis is an extremely serious injury that requires immediate medical attention and hospitalization. Surgery is usually necessary to stabilize the pelvis.
- Vertebrae: Broken vertebrae in the spine can compress or sever the spinal cord, causing permanent damage or paralysis. These injuries are medical emergencies.
The severity of broken bones depends on the specifics of the fracture, such as whether the broken bone punctured the skin, if it is misaligned or crushed, if multiple breaks are present, and which bone(s) are affected. Prognosis also depends on prompt and proper treatment. Broken bones may require setting the bone, casts, splints, plates and screws, or other surgical procedures to heal properly. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are often needed to regain strength and range of motion.
In many cases, broken bones from car accidents can have lifelong impacts on mobility, function, independence, and quality of life. Seeking compensation for these devastating injuries may be necessary to pay for ongoing medical expenses and other costs. Speaking with a personal injury attorney is advisable to understand your legal rights and options after suffering broken bones in a crash.
Burns are among the most severe injuries that can result from a car accident. When vehicles collide or crash, fires can start and spread rapidly, causing severe burns. Even without a fire, the hot metal and broken glass in a wrecked vehicle can lead to burns.
According to the CDC, nearly 2 million burn injuries occur in the U.S. each year, with over 40,000 hospitalizations due to severe burns. Car accident burns typically require intensive medical care and can result in physical scarring, disability, and even death.
The severity of a burn depends on both the temperature of the heat source as well as the length of exposure. Burns are classified into three categories:
First-degree burns affect the outer layer of skin. They appear red and painful, similar to a sunburn. First-degree burns usually heal on their own within a week.
Second-degree burns penetrate into deeper layers of skin. They cause blistering and severe pain. Second-degree burns often require medical care like cleaning, bandaging, and antibiotics. Healing can take weeks to months.
The most severe burns, third-degree burns affect both the outer and underlying layers of skin. They can damage nerves, muscles, and tendons. The skin may appear charred or translucent.
These burns require immediate emergency care and hospitalization. Skin grafts or other surgeries are typically needed, and healing is a long process that can take months to years.
In a vehicle fire or collision, burn injuries demand quick and competent emergency response to minimize damage. Seek medical help right away for any burns, as even seemingly minor burns can become life-threatening if left untreated. With proper treatment, many burn victims are still able to recover and heal, though the physical and emotional scars may remain.
Call Fletcher Law For Help With Your Car Accident Injury Case
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss filing a claim. Fletcher Law has successfully helped victims of car accidents for over 30 years.
\n\n###Severe Injuries Require Skilled Legal Representation
Car accidents can lead to life-changing injuries that require extensive medical care and time away from work. Our attorneys have handled cases involving:
•Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) - Damage to the brain from impacts can cause cognitive, behavioral and physical issues. TBIs require diagnosis, treatment and long-term management.
•Spinal cord injuries - Injuries to the spinal cord often lead to loss of mobility and sensation. Spinal cord damage frequently necessitates surgery, rehabilitation and lifetime care.
•Internal organ damage - Impacts from car accidents can rupture or bruise internal organs like the spleen, kidneys, liver and lungs. Surgery and hospitalization are typically needed to treat internal organ injuries.
•Fractures and broken bones - Broken ribs, pelvises, hips, legs and other bones require emergency care, casting, possible surgery and physical therapy. Severe breaks can take months to heal and may never fully recover.
•Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Living through a traumatic auto accident can lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression and other psychological issues that significantly impact quality of life.
The effects of a serious car accident injury can haunt victims for life. At Fletcher Law, our personal injury attorneys understand what you’re going through. We will fight to get you the maximum compensation so you can focus on your recovery. Call us today for a free case review.