Car accident injuries can range from mild to severe, some not always immediately apparent after an accident. Understanding what injuries can occur after a car accident is essential, especially if a negligent driver caused it. Read on to learn about some of the most common injuries.
Even seemingly minor car accidents can lead to painful, debilitating injuries resulting in overwhelming medical bills and missed time at work. This is why it is so important to be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible, even if you do not believe you are seriously injured.
When you sustain a car accident injury in Rhode Island because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for the pain, suffering, and financial consequences of the accident. Marasco & Nesselbush can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury can be the result of a blow to the head, an object penetrating the skull, or even the violent jolting that can occur during a car accident. Brain injuries may stem from the following events:
- Being thrown from the vehicle
- Hitting your head on the airbag
- Being hit by a car as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcycle rider
- Hitting your head during a rollover crash
- Being hit in the head by flying objects inside the vehicle
Mild traumatic brain injuries are known as concussions. They occur when a jolt or blow to the head causes the brain to move and collide with the skull. If the brain bounces and also hits the opposite side of the skull, a coup-contrecoup brain injury occurs. This can be the result of the back-and-forth motion of the head that happens with whiplash.
Mild traumatic brain injuries become more serious and are reclassified as moderate or severe if bleeding occurs inside the brain or your brain swells. Brain swelling can lead to excessive pressure on the brain because of the skull.
Immediate evaluation by a physician after an accident can give doctors an opportunity to relieve intracranial pressure before permanent damage is done.
Visit the Marsco & Nesselbush Brain Injury Center to learn more about traumatic brain injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The primary function of the spinal cord is to send messages from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is protected by a series of vertebrae. When these are compromised, your spinal cord can become damaged.
If the spinal cord is injured, the brain may lose its ability to transmit messages to the rest of your body. This can result in the following conditions, which are typically lifelong:
- Paralysis of one side of your body
- Chronic pain
A study by the Asian Journal of Neurosurgery observed that rollover accidents are the most common type of car accident that leads to spinal cord injuries.
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of blunt chest trauma, according to StatPearls. Blunt chest trauma is an injury to the structures inside the chest as a result of a non-penetrating blow. One of the most common mechanisms of chest injuries in a car accident is seat belt use.
Seat Belt Injuries
Seat belts save lives. They are designed to transfer the impact of a car crash to the most rugged areas of the body, including the chest wall, and prevent more severe injuries caused byforceful ejection from the vehicle. In doing so, seat belts may cause the following chest injuries:
- Chest wall injuries
- Rib fractures
- Pulmonary contusion (bruising of the lungs)
- Broken breastbone
- Myocardial contusion (bruising of the heart)
Complications Of Chest Injuries
The chest wall facilitates breathing through the contraction of the diaphragm and muscles surrounding the ribs. This allows the chest to fill with air so that air can enter the lungs.
When you experience broken ribs or a broken breastbone, breathing becomes painful. In the most severe crashes, you could experience injury to the structures inside the chest wall, including the heart, lungs, aorta, and lower portion of the esophagus. These injuries may disrupt circulation and impair breathing.
Severe Chest Injuries
Arm and Leg Injuries
The arms and legs are virtually unprotected during car accidents and are prone to injury. Soft-tissue damage, such as stretched ligaments and tendons, strained muscles, severe bruising, and deep lacerations are common in both the arms and the legs.
Car Accident Leg Injuries
The most common leg injuries in a car accident include the following:
- Femur fractures
- Fracture of the bones in the bottom half of the legs
- Torn meniscus – Damage to the soft cartilage of the knee
- Sciatic nerve damage
Car Accident Arm Injuries
When you are in a car accident, you may instinctively use your arms as a brace in an effort to protect your face. This can result in fractures of multiple bones in your wrist. Your arms also may move around throughout the crash and hit hard objects.
The large bones in your arms may break if your arm becomes wedged under you or assumes an otherwise awkward position.
Severe Car Accident Limb Injuries
If an arm or leg is crushed, loses blood flow for an extended period, or is otherwise severely damaged, the limb could suffer irreparable damage and require amputation to prevent complications such as gangrene and sepsis. Amputations are most common after high-speed crashes, such as head-on collisions.
Back injuries can occur in almost any accident. The most common back injuries after a car accident include the following, according to Excel Pain and Spine:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Injuries to the joints of the back
- Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which connects your spine, hips, and pelvis
- Slipped, herniated, or bulging discs
- Compression fractures of the vertebrae, especially of the lower spine
In addition to traumatic brain injuries, head injuries from a car accident may include facial trauma. Face injuries can be especially traumatic because they can result in a disfigured appearance and impaired function. Facial trauma may occur as a result of any of the following:
- Hitting the airbag
- Being thrust through a windshield
- Hitting the ground after being ejected
- Being hit by a car as a pedestrian or bicyclist
The face is vulnerable during an accident due to its numerous delicate structures and forward-facing position. Injuries to the face may affect the bones, facial structures, or soft tissue.
Soft Tissue Facial Injuries
Injuries to the soft tissues of the face may include the following:
- Skin lacerations
- Eye injuries
- Nerve damage
- Damage to the tongue or salivary glands
- Ear injuries
Soft tissue damage may interfere with important functions such as swallowing, chewing, smiling, seeing, and speaking.
Facial fractures following a car accident may involve the following:
- Orbital bone of the eye socket
Facial fractures may require restorative surgery to prevent permanent disfigurement.
Neck Injuries and Whiplash
The flexibility of the neck makes it vulnerable to injury in a car accident. Whiplash is the most common neck injury. It occurs when the neck snaps back and forth quickly in a whip-like motion, resulting in severely strained muscles and, in severe cases, damage to the cervical spine.
The cervical spine is the top portion of the spine, and it begins in the neck. If the spinal cord in this area is damaged, quadriplegia could result.
It’s important to seek medical attention after an accident and have a doctor determine the extent of your injuries. In some cases, people can experience delayed whiplash symptoms after an accident.
The impact of a car accident may result in fractures of the pelvis. The pretzel-like shape of the pelvis makes it likely that you will have more than one fracture. The pelvis protects the bladder, bowels, and reproductive organs. A fractured pelvis can result in complications to these areas including:
- Sexual difficulties
Pelvic trauma may also cause damaged nerves and bruised muscles.
Scrapes and Cuts
Cuts and scrapes are common during a car accident and can be severe. Deep cuts are also known as lacerations, and scrapes may be referred to as abrasions.
The primary danger of cuts and scrapes is infection. If debris enters your wound during the accident, your risk of infection increases. Recovery may require you to undergo painful scrubbing to reduce the risk of infection.
An extreme type of scrape is road rash. This may occur if you were riding a motorcycle at the time of the collision or if you were ejected from your vehicle. Road rash occurs when you slide along the roadway, resulting in your skin scraping violently on the road and layers being torn away.
Road rash may result in severe infection, nerve damage, and permanent scarring. Road rash is also classified as a friction burn.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue is tissue other than bones, such as skin, tendons, and ligaments. Soft tissue damage is often inevitable in a car accident and may include the following:
- Sprains – Overstretching and sometimes tearing of ligaments
- Strains – Injuries to the tendons, which connect muscle to bone and to other muscles, common in the lower back region
- Contusions – Bruising, which could indicate internal injuries
- Lacerations – Cuts and gashes in the skin
- Torn ACL – The anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, which stabilizes it
- Torn MCL – The medial collateral ligament located in the inner part of the knee
- Shoulder impingement – Inflammation of the shoulder tendons
ACL tears are common during rollovers and rear endings. MCL tears most often occur when the knee bends awkwardly during the accident. Shoulder impingement may occur as a result of excessive exertion when the body collides with the airbag. This injury may require rotator cuff surgery.
Abdominal injuries may occur in an accident due to any blunt-force impact in the abdominal region during the crash. The stomach houses several internal organs, any of which can be damaged by blunt-force abdominal trauma.
Abdominal injuries include the following:
Abdominal injuries may present with pain, weakness, and rectal bleeding. These injuries may be difficult to diagnose, and life-threatening internal bleeding is common with these injuries. If you experience abdominal pain or weakness after a car accident, it is important to report it to your doctor, even if it is mild.
Burn injuries in a car accident may be due to:
- Vehicle fire
- Contact with caustic chemicals
- Contact with hot vehicle parts
Motorcycle riders can be burned by the exhaust pipe, and if the rider is pinned, this burn could be severe by the time paramedics arrive. Cars catch fire when flammable fluids leak onto an ignition source.
Burn injuries can be classified as first, second, or third degree, according to severity. Third-degree burns are the most serious, with damage to both layers of the skin and the tissue beneath the skin. When the damage goes into muscle or bone, some providers classify these as fourth-degree burns.
Burn injuries that cover a large portion of the body or face are considered severe and may result in permanent disability and lifelong complications.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim After Injuries From A Car Accident?
The personal injury statute of limitations in Rhode Island is three years from the date of injury for most car accident cases. However, it is important to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident to ensure your attorney has sufficient time to investigate and build your case.
Why Do I Need A Car Accident Attorney
A car accident lawyer represents your best interests against the insurance company of the at-fault party. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that pursue their own interests by seeking to minimize compensation.
Our law firm has been standing up to insurance companies on behalf of injured individuals for more than two decades, and we consistently achieve remarkable results for our clients:
- $6.2 million for a client who was injured in a rollover crash caused by a distracted driver
- $4.5 million for a client who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident
- $2.5 million for the estate of a pedestrian who was killed when she was hit by a negligent driver
If you have been injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, contact our team for a free consultation today.