The hard truth is that life can change dramatically after a car crash. The worst car crash injuries can affect daily routines, impact the quality of relationships, and leave some with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Motor vehicle accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, but not all of them are apparent immediately. Hidden car injuries can take weeks or months to come to light. Worryingly, some of them can have long-term consequences.
The purpose of this post is to create awareness around the common car accident injuries that require attention due to their potential to have a long-lasting effect on your life.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI is an injury to the brain resulting from a violent blow to the head or body. In a car crash, the head can make forceful contact with the steering wheel, windshield, or vehicle windows, causing the brain to move around violently inside the skill, resulting in injury. TBI can range from mild to severe traumatic brain injury. Concussions are the most common type of TBI.
A severe TBI results in a loss of consciousness longer than six hours. A mild TBI may cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in speech
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory lapses
- Depression and anxiety
- Light or sound sensitivity, among others
More serious brain injuries can manifest as the following:
- Ongoing or worsening headache
- Fluid drainage from ears or nose
- Coma or another consciousness disorder
- Severe or extreme confusion, among others
These symptoms may become noticeable immediately or in the weeks or months following the crash. If detected early, you can undergo medical treatment and see considerable improvements in your condition. However, results will depend on the extent of damage to your brain.
Spinal cord injuries
When a vehicle collides with another, the force of the impact can propel the lighter human forward. The only thing stopping the forward motion is a hard surface, such as a steering wheel or even the pavement. The force with which the accident victim can strike another surface during a crash is sufficient to injure the spinal cord. Even a collision at low speeds can cause the accident victim to bend unnaturally and damage the spinal column.
Spinal cord injuries are the most life-changing injuries that can occur during a car crash. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), of the 17,730 new spinal cord injuries that occur each year in the United States, 40% result from a car accident.
A car crash can cause a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that crushes, compresses, fractures, or dislocates one or more of the vertebrae. Additional injury can occur in the days or weeks following the accident due to swelling, inflammation, fluid accumulation, and bleeding around the spinal cord. The common spinal cord injuries from a car accident including a bulging disc, pinched nerve, herniated disc, fractured vertebrae, and spinal stenosis.
Diagnosing a spinal cord injury usually consists of a manual examination, imaging and lab work. The accident victim may undergo an X-ray to identify dislocation, breaks, or other damage to bones. A CT Scan is often utilized during an emergency as it is a fast scan and shows high-definition images of skeletal structures and soft tissues. An MRI may be used to evaluate soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
Laboratory tests will help gain additional information about the patient. When combined with the results from the imaging tests and physical examination, they can confirm a diagnosis or provide valuable information about the patient’s condition.
Facial injuries are quite common after a car crash. The most common facial injury following a motor vehicle accident is a broken nose. In a less severe car accident, the facial injuries can be more superficial, with cuts and bruises that can heal over time after the accident. Facial injuries from a severe crash include burn injuries, eye injuries, facial deformities, lacerations, and soft tissue injuries.
- Serious car accidents can result in fires and explosions, which can cause facial burns. The injuries may require skin graft surgeries and result in scarring and nerve damage. Facial burn injuries may range from minor to severe to even debilitating.
- Facial deformities can result in permanent deformities and have a lasting impact on the victim’s physical appearance.
- Deep cuts or lacerations on the face following a car accident can leave permanent scars. Severe lacerations can alter or destroy the lips, eyes, nose, and ears.
- Debris and flying objects in crashes can cause injuries to the eye. Orbital fractures can be highly painful and dangerous due to the proximity of the orbital bone of the bone of the brain. The trauma and force the eye face in a car accident can cause retinal detachment. Seeing double, blurred vision, blood in the eyes, and inability to see normally as before require medical attention.
Not all treatments are able to restore your eye health to pre-accident levels. Unfortunately, eye injuries can worsen with time and become permanent. You can recover damages for your eye injury to pay for the cost of your medical treatments, and any pain, suffering, or any eye damage sustained from the crash.
The direct impact during a car accident also results in bone fractures. Common bone fractures from car accidents include:
Arm and leg fractures
Although the seat belt restrains your upper body, your arms and legs get pushed around during the accident. During the accident, your hands will be gripping the steering wheel. The impact of the collision can be strong enough to break your wrist, arm, or shoulder. The force of impact from the collision can also put pressure on the knees, ankles and legs, and result in broken bones. A sudden crash can cause your limbs to move uncontrollably, causing fractures.
A sudden impact to the chest area during a crash can cause fractured ribs. It often happens when the driver makes forceful contact with the steering wheel or the passenger collides with the dashboard. The force of restraint from the seat belt against the trunk of the body during a collision can also cause broken ribs. Symptoms of broken ribs include pain on taking a deep breath, tenderness and swelling, shortness of breath, and an inability to breathe.
The collarbone is among the bones of the body at a risk of severe injury in a car crash. An improperly worn seat belt can place excessive pressure on your collarbone and cause it to break. A collarbone fracture typically causes shoulder pain, bruising, swelling, and reduced shoulder movement.
A pelvis fracture is one of the worst car crash injuries you can sustain. A high-impact car collision can result in a broken pelvis, a serious injury considering the pelvis protects many vital organs, including the bladder and intestines. A broken pelvis from a motor vehicle accident can damage these organs and cause internal bleeding, making you susceptible to infection. Surgery will most probably be required. Even a minor pelvic fracture can take weeks to heal, requiring adequate bed rest and painkillers.
Loss of limbs
A deadly car accident can sever a limb entirely or damage the limb to such an extent that it needs to be partially or completely removed. A loss of limb can lead to expensive rehabilitation, protheses, and other assistive devices. The common types of limb loss injuries caused by car accidents include a loss of fingers/toes, amputations at the ankle/foot, and partial hand/foot amputations.
A car accident can have a long-term traumatic effect. According to a research study, one-third of children involved in traumatic accidents suffer mental trauma, experiencing those symptoms up to a year afterwards. While their experience does not translate directly to adults, another study found that victims suffered PTSD, general anxiety, phobic travel anxiety, and depression at the 1-year follow-up.
Driving phobias that set in after a traumatic car accident can affect you and your family. You may have trouble getting to work, taking your kids to schools, or running daily errands. Some people experience anxiety when passing the site of the accident or when viewing things that remind them of the crash. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) advises increasing self-care, and if that isn’t enough, seeking professional help.
In general, after a car accident, you can recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress when the crash causes severe mental anguish. To have a valid emotional distress claim, a car accident lawyer will show three things. One, that the distress is more than fleeting. Second, that the defendant’s conduct caused the distress. Third, that the distress is medically significant, i.e., it severely limits a person’s ability to function in a meaningful way.
What are the leading causes of car accident deaths in California?
California and Texas top the list of states with the highest number of speeding-related deadly wrecks per year. Several different kinds of car crash injuries can cause death, including severe head injuries, blood loss, blunt force trauma, and organ damage. Here’s a look at the leading causes of traffic fatalities in California:
The speeding law in California requires you to drive at a reasonable and safe speed. Traveling above the posted speed limit is a main cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities in California. Higher driving speeds lead to higher collision speeds and can result in severe injury. Driving at high speeds provides less time to process information and act on it. The braking distance is longer. So, the possibility of avoiding a collision is smaller.
Impaired driving happens when someone drives a vehicle while impaired by substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or over-the-counter medicines. Under the influence of these substances, it’s easier to make poor decisions such as failing to wear a seat belt, speeding, or tailgating and lane splitting. Drivers with a blood alcohol level of over 0.10 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than their sober counterparts.
Distracted driving is anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road. Those at the wheel who talk or text on the phone are common culprits. But drivers can be distracted by the GPS system, eating, or passengers talking in the car. The common types of car accidents occurring from distracted driving include rear-end crashes, T-bone accidents, head-on collisions, sideswipes, and multiple car pileups.
Driving while sleepy or fatigued is a major contributor to motor vehicle collisions. In a drowsy state, it’s easier to follow a vehicle too closely or run off the road or into another lane of traffic. Injuries from these crashes can be more severe when the vehicle is traveling at high speeds.
Aggressive driving is driving while angry and engaging in dangerous behavior. It encompasses behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, refusing to yield right of way, running red lights, weaving in and out of lanes, and honking excessively. Driving with no regard for safety puts other people at risk. Aggressive driving is a criminal offense in California. A California driver convicted of aggressive driving may face serious criminal penalties and potentially receive a charge that remains on their criminal record for the rest of their life.
Construction and work zones can create hazardous conditions for driving, and must therefore be marked with proper warnings and signage. Improperly maintained roads with potholes or faded lines pose a real risk of car accidents. Dangerous dips, slopes, or curves may also prove risky and cause a bad car accident.
Suffered a severe car crash injury? Contact the car accident attorney at Krasney Law
Involved in a car accident that led to bodily injury and/or emotional distress? You can claim compensation that helps pay the medical bills and costs of any treatment you may take to return to normalcy. The California car accident attorney team at Krasney Law provides an initial consultation for free and may arrange payment on a contingent basis. Schedule your appointment now to understand your legal options.