Mitchell Lattof | December 9, 2020 | Car Accidents
Recent statistics show that a car accident was reported in Alabama every three to four minutes. With stats like that, it’s not surprising that a person gets injured in a traffic crash in Alabama every 11 minutes and 5 seconds.
No two accidents are the same and the types of injuries naturally vary, but there are a few categories that often make the list of common injuries. These can range from non-serious injuries that will likely heal on their own to life-threatening injuries that could result in death.
BROKEN BONES AND FRACTURES
Broken bones or fractures are among the most common car accident injuries. Broken bones result when a person is ejected from the vehicle during a collision, slams into the steering wheel or the dashboard, or is hit by the airbag as it deploys. The bones that often break or fracture in a car accident include:
- The clavicle, which lies across your body above the rib cage and is one of the most fragile bones in the body.
- Facial bones are especially susceptible to breaking when slammed head first into the dashboard during a collision, or when struck by the airbag as it deploys.
- Leg bones, particularly the femur and fibula.
- Spinal vertebrae, which can break due to the force of a collision, can result in paralysis or even death.
Depending on a person’s overall physical health, as well as the severity of the break, broken bones can usually take around six to eight weeks to heal.
Even at a low speed, when a car crashes against something, the force can make your head fall forwards and back, causing the neck to go beyond its normal range of motion. It’s called whiplash for the movement’s resemblance to the cracking of a whip. Symptoms of whiplash include dizziness, fatigue, jaw pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain.
Burns during a car accident can occur when a person is exposed to hot oil, gas, or burning metal during the accident. Burns can also happen in the event the car catches fire after a collision. Burn injuries can do immense damage to the skin.
The severity of the burn determines whether or not the skin will sustain long-term damage. Burn injuries vary by degrees:
- 1st degree burns are typically not serious and do little to no damage below the outside layer of the skin.
- 2nd degree burns are more serious and painful, and damage multiple layers of the skin.
- 3rd degree burns destroy all outside layers of the skin, leaving the skin charred.
- 4th degree burns, which completely destroy all layers of the skin, may affect muscle and bone as well. These types of burn can require amputation.
The healing period for a burn injury depends entirely on the severity of the burn. In some cases, full recovery is not possible. This is most often the case with fourth degree burns, where all nerve endings are destroyed and the area becomes numb.
A laceration is essentially a cut that goes through the layers of the skin. These kinds of injuries are common during car accidents due to the presence of broken glass and pieces of metal that can pierce the skin. Some lacerations run especially deep, going beneath the skin and into the fat and muscle layers. There are a few different kinds of lacerations:
- Cut lacerations are when an object cuts through the top layer of the skin
- Split lacerations occur when two different objects cause compression between the skin and the bone
- Perforated lacerations result from a projectile that penetrates the skin, such as broken glass or metal
- Stretch lacerations can occur when the skin is stretched due to an object applying force on the skin at an angle
Deeper lacerations that cut below the skin and into fat and muscle layers take a much longer time to heal.
INTERNAL INJURIES AND BLEEDING
Internal injuries and bleeding may take time to present following a car accident. Without treatment, internal injuries can be fatal.
It is not uncommon to lose bodily functions and become dependent on dialysis, breathing tubes, or other medical treatment to stay alive. In severe cases, the accident victim may need a transplant to survive.
SPINAL TRAUMA AND PARALYSIS
The spinal cord is made up of nerve tissue and cells. The brain sends messages through the spinal cord to the body. Therefore, trauma to the spine can impede the body’s ability to receive messages and control itself. Injury victims may end up paralyzed if the injury to the spinal cord is significant enough that it cannot repair itself.
In some cases, paralysis is confined to one part of the body, while in other cases, it is more generalized and results in a loss of muscle control across multiple parts of the body. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal trauma and paralysis.
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
Traumatic brain injury occurs when the cranium experiences an impact of great force. It is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as any disruption in the normal function of a brain as a result of a blow to the head. These kinds of injuries are common during car accidents due to the susceptibility of the cranium to extreme force during a collision.
During such crashes, when the cranium strikes an unmoving object with force, such as a dashboard or steering wheel, the brain continues to maintain forward momentum, causing it to collide with the interior of the skull. This brain and skull collision can cause both bruising and bleeding.
There are several different kinds of traumatic brain injuries:
- Concussions, which tend to be mild, do not typically cause permanent damage; concussions can sometimes cause a loss of consciousness
- Contusions occur when the brain is bruised as the result of a collision
- Hematomas are blood clots due to a ruptured blood vessel; surgery may be required to remove the clots
- Diffuse axonal injuries occur when nerve cells are stretched as the brain moves back and forth within the skull during a collision
One of the reasons traumatic brain injury can be particularly life-threatening is because the symptoms may not necessarily manifest themselves at the scene of the accident or even for a few days afterward. It’s important to monitor the victim closely for a few days to notice any changes in behavior.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUFFER AN INJURY FROM A CAR ACCIDENT?
The first thing you should do is seek medical treatment immediately. Even if you think you’re fine, you never know what internal damage you may have sustained. Always get checked and be sure to follow up if any delayed onset injuries appear.
Another reason it’s important to seek medical treatment is to preserve evidence of your injury. If you choose to sue for compensation, having medical records showing your symptoms immediately following the crash can counter any argument that the crash did not cause your injury.
In the event you decide to file a lawsuit, retain a Mobile personal injury lawyer with strong experience in successfully representing victims of car accidents. Having a competent attorney by your side can give you the greatest chance of getting the compensation and justice you deserve.