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  • Common Car Accident Injuries

    A car accident can cause severe injuries to any part of the body. Even a seemingly minor accident can result in catastrophic injuries, which may not show up for days or weeks from the moment of impact.

    The severity of a car accident injury will depend on several factors, such as:

    • Seat belt use.
    • Position of the body at the time of impact.
    • The speed at which the collision occurred.
    • Location of impact: rear, side, or front.
    • Airbag deployment.

    If you are involved in a car accident, you should always accept medical care at the scene of the collision and at any time unusual symptoms occur. It is also important to schedule an appointment with your primary physician after a collision.

    Most car accident injuries fall into two broad categories:

    • Impact injury: When a person’s body hits something inside or outside the vehicle.
    • Penetrating injury: When a body part sustains an injury from shattering glass, loose objects flying about the car, or penetration from a stationary object.

    The following are the most common car accident injuries:

    Traumatic Brain Injuries

    Car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can cause long-term disability or even death. A TBI occurs when a person’s head is injured by a forceful blow, such as hitting their head violently on the car’s roof, or an injury that pierces the skull and brain.

    TBI can affect virtually every part of the person’s daily living, such as thinking, cognition, hearing, and movement. Many people with a TBI will need lifelong care and help, and some may never recover their pre-accident capabilities.

    Spinal Cord Injuries

    In an accident, the body is often violently thrown about the vehicle or is twisted into unnatural positions. Depending on the circumstances, a person can end up with spinal cord injuries that result in full or partial paralysis:

    • Monoplegia affects only one arm or leg.
    • Hemiplegia affects one arm and one leg on the same side of the body.
    • Paraplegia affects both legs.
    • Quadriplegia, or tetraplegia, affects both arms and legs.

    Back Injuries

    Back injuries are relatively common in car accidents, especially if the person is forcefully hurled back and forth or against a stationary object. A back injury may not always be felt right away. Sometimes, back problems take days, weeks, or even months to surface.

    A significant consequence of back injuries is that they can plague the sufferer for years or a lifetime. They may go away, and a particular motion or activity will make them flare up again. Keep a close eye on your back health after an accident, even if it was a minor one.

    accident injuries

    Internal Injuries

    It is nearly impossible to control the body in an accident. Internal injuries are common, as the body may smash against the steering wheel, steering column, or other interior parts of a vehicle in a collision. In some cases, the person may be ejected from their car and their body can slam against the ground.

    Internal injuries are not always readily apparent. Sometimes, they take a few hours to become painful or swollen enough to be noticed. Other times, blood loss from internal bleeding signals quick distress. Always get checked for internal injuries after an accident. Many internal injuries require emergency treatment.

    Broken Bones

    Even a seemingly minor accident can fracture or break bones. Commonly broken bones are legs, arms, wrists, ankles, ribs, and the pelvis. The breaks and fractures may be simple and require only a cast for healing. Others can be severe and require surgery and the use of pins and other devices for repair.

    Loss of Limbs

    In an accident, a person’s extremities can be amputated, or the injuries may be severe enough to require surgical amputation. When that happens, a person may be facing lifetime disabilities, including the inability to earn income or earn it at the level they had before the injury.

    Neck Injuries and Whiplash

    Even at low speeds and with seat belt use, whiplash is a common injury after an accident. The abrupt movement of the head can damage the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck, resulting in whiplash.

    In addition, cervical problems such as disk injury and dislocation can also arise in the neck after an accident, sometimes requiring surgery.

    Burn Injuries

    By their very nature, vehicles run hot. If a driver is exposed to hot fluids, chemicals, steam, or hot surfaces, they can be quickly burned. Also, it is not uncommon for a car to catch fire in an accident, elevating the chance for a severe burn injury.

    Severe burns will often require skin grafting and may disfigure a person for life. Even a slight burn in an accident should be treated to prevent future complications.

    Disfigurement and Scars

    Broken glass and forceful impact against windows, the dashboard, an airbag, or any other hard surface can leave a driver with horrible gashes and lacerations. Some of these may require plastic surgery to correct, and many will result in lifelong scars and facial disfigurement.

    Knee Injuries

    Due to the position of the knees in a vehicle, a crash could send them into the steering column or dashboard, or they could be injured by a smashed exterior that traps the knees. Tears of the meniscus, tendons, cartilage, or muscles around the knee are common, as are kneecap and other bone injuries.

    Foot and Ankle Injuries

    Like the knees, the feet and ankles are well-positioned for injury in a car accident. Sprains and fractures are relatively common, while amputation of toes and feet can happen in serious accidents.

    Shoulder Injuries

    Shoulders are commonly injured when a driver or passenger tries to brace themselves in an accident, such as against the steering wheel or dashboard. The shoulders will often lock into place, absorbing excessive force from the impact. Other times, the shoulder itself will hit a stationary object, causing fractures, rotator cuff injuries, and other damage.

    Hand and Wrist Injuries

    Much like shoulders, a person may use their hands to brace themselves during impact from an accident. As a result, broken wrists are standard, as are fractured fingers and deeply bruised or lacerated hands.

    Bruises and Lacerations

    Broken glass, torn metal, and objects flying around in the car can easily cause gashes, cuts, scrapes, lacerations, and bruises anywhere on the body.

    Road rash is also common. Road rash is a term used to describe the deep, painful abrasions from the skin being dragged or skidding on the pavement.

    Soft Tissue Injuries

    Muscles, tendons, and ligaments through the body are susceptible to injuries in a car accident. There could tears, sprains, strains, bruising and other injuries that are often very painful and could be recurring or long-lasting.

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

    Even minor accidents can be traumatic and have long-lasting mental and emotional effects. A person could suffer debilitating thoughts and emotions that last for years due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may need mental health counseling and other support to help them drive again or rid themselves of persistent negative emotions.

    What Injuries Could Show Up Later After an Accident?

    Several injuries may take hours, days, or even weeks to surface. That is why it is critical to try and get them diagnosed before they can cause considerable pain and damage.

    After a car accident, always accept medical help from the emergency medical technicians on the scene, no matter how you feel. They are trained to find a problem you may not yet feel. Within days of the accident, also visit your primary care doctor. Again, they are trained to spot damage.

    Always seek medical treatment after an accident whenever new symptoms appear, even months later. There is a good chance that new pain or other illness could be related to the accident and require emergency treatment.

    The body is designed to protect itself from pain in an accident. Adrenaline often kicks in, often delaying the sensations of pain and injury. That is why it is critical to get checked by a medical provider after an accident, regardless of symptoms.

    The following are common injuries that may have delayed symptoms:

    • Whiplash: Symptoms include neck pain, tingling sensations, headaches, tenderness, fatigue, and d
    • Brain injuries: Common symptoms include headaches, confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, irritability, depression, nausea, and fatigue.
    • Back and spinal cord injuries: Symptoms include paralysis, swelling, back pain, limited range of motion, and muscle spasms.
    • Soft tissue injuries: Pain in soft tissues with movement, weakness in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, back, knees, and muscle spasms and twitches are common symptoms.
    • Internal injuries: Internal bleeding and other damages could take some time to affect you. By then, they may require emergency treatment. This is another reason anyone in an accident should always seek medical care immediately. Symptoms of internal damage include abdominal pain, tenderness, bluish discoloration of the belly, nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

    What Should I Do if I am in a Car Accident?

    You can take specific steps to help ensure that an insurer will fairly cover your losses or that you will have a strong case if a lawsuit is needed. The bottom line is that you suffered damages caused by another person, and you deserve justice.

    These tips are good to remember and follow as much as possible if you are in an accident:

    • Call 911. This will serve two purposes: summoning medical help and ensuring police response.
    • Always seek medical help on the scene. Get checked by paramedics and see your doctor after the accident as well. If paramedics advise you to go to the hospital, take their advice. Undergo diagnostic testing and any other activities a doctor recommends. Furthermore, seek medical care anytime a new symptom arises. If you do not accept or seek medical attention, an insurer can claim that you were not hurt and refuse to pay any medical bills.
    • Get a copy of the police report. Law enforcement will perform an initial investigation, interview the involved parties and witnesses, examine the scene, inspect the vehicles, and provide their determination as to who was at fault. A police report that names the suspected at-fault party is critical evidence in proving liability.
    • Take pictures and videos of the scene. Capture the accident scene in its entirety: vehicle damage, strewn parts, the position of the vehicles, location of the accident, weather conditions, road conditions, and injuries.

    after a car accident

    • Obtain witness information. If able, talk to witnesses, get their names, and contact information. Often, witnesses will not wait at the scene until law enforcement arrives. As a result, facts become your word versus the other driver’s claims.
    • Keep careful records of injuries and medical bills. Explain thoroughly and in detail what hurts and what happened. Your words will be noted in medical reports and records, which an insurance company will use later when evaluating your claim. A file of medical bills, insurance payments, out-of-pocket payments, and other costs related to your injuries will prove invaluable later.
    • Start a journal. Memories fade quickly, so note everything you can about what occurred in the accident as well as your actions after the accident, including any discussion with your employer, insurance companies, or other parties. As treatment and healing progresses, note every doctor appointment, therapy, cost, and other evidence of your physical and mental health issues.
    • Follow the doctor’s orders. Not following through on recommended therapies, medications, and other treatments can make it seem as if you are not injured. Undergo all recommended tests and necessary X-rays, MRIs, scans, and other diagnostics. Do not give insurers the chance to devalue your accident.
    • Do not immediately talk to, agree, or sign anything. Insurers are in the business of minimizing their losses, not fully covering yours, even your insurer. They may prey upon your fears of medical bills and lost income and offer a low-ball amount to settle. You should not take it without consulting with a lawyer first.
    • Speak with a car accident lawyer. If you were injured in a car accident, you will need an experienced car accident lawyer by your side. They know how to negotiate with insurers and how to present the most substantial evidence possible on your behalf. If needed, they will build your case and take it to court. Studies show that individuals with legal representation receive two to three times more compensation than unrepresented individuals.

    Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Injured Drivers Find Justice

    If you have been injured in a collision due to no fault of your own, our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can review your case and protect your rights. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.