Police across the nation reported 7.277 million vehicle crashes to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016. Of those crashes, only 2.177 million people received injuries. More than 5 million people avoided injury thanks, in part, to modern safety features and use of restraints.
Injuries received during an auto crash depends on the speed vehicles are traveling. Other factors include the areas of impact, what was loose within the vehicle and acted as a projectile, and whether the driver and passengers used restraints.
During a crash, the force of the crash and damage to a vehicle lead to injuries ranging from minor to severe. These are the five most common injuries in auto crashes.
Contusions and Cuts
Even in a low-speed car crash, soft tissue damage is possible. If the seatbelt locks up and holds you steady, contusions or bruises occur where the seatbelt held you in place. Projectiles within a car, such as a purse, cell phone, or travel mug, may fly into you and cause bruising or cuts.
At faster speeds, equipment within the car may get pushed into the vehicle’s cabin. Shifting of the sun visors and rearview mirrors leads to cuts the skin on cheeks and foreheads. Broken glass from windshields and windows can hit the skin and cause scratches. Metal framing that pushes inward also cuts or scrapes the skin.
Some cuts need stitches, staples, or butterfly closures. Mild scratches and scrapes receive cleaning to remove debris. They are disinfected and covered with protective bandages. Bruises are harder to treat. A cool compress helps ease the swelling and discomfort.
Fractured bones are likely in a car crash, especially bones in the hands. The force of the steering wheel and airbag on the fingers, hand, and wrist can snap bones backward and lead to breaks or dislocations.
Feet and legs also take a lot of the impact. In a front-end crash, the engine can push into the dash and cause the dash and equipment on the dash to push into feet and knees.
Hip and pelvis fractures happen when the body jerks violently back and forth or to a side. Fractured or broken ribs are possible due to the force of the airbag as it deploys. Bones in the neck and spine may shift out of alignment and fracture during impact.
Fractures or bone breaks may be broken but not out of position, broken into pieces, or in pieces and through the skin. The amount of time needed to heal from a broken bone depends on the severity and location of the break. You may be asked to take it easy for weeks or months. Casts, splints, or surgical intervention are all used to treat breaks. Physical therapy can help you regain mobility.
A concussion occurs when the head jerks or moves back and forth in a quick, abrupt manner. The brain gets bounced around within the skull causing damage or chemical imbalances within the brain cells.
Symptoms of a concussion may not appear immediately. Dizziness, headache, nausea, and ringing in the ears are early warning signs. If confusion, lethargy, slurred speech, or seizures occur, the concussion is severe and needs immediate medical attention.
Doctors use CT scans and MRIs to diagnose a concussion. If a scan shows you have suffered a concussion, you’ll need time to heal. Doctors will ask you to relax, avoid any strenuous exercises and tasks that require a lot of focus.
Whiplash occurs when the soft tissue within the neck is strained. The tissue of the joints, ligaments, and muscles get stretched suddenly. Neck and shoulder pain and stiffness are key symptoms, but people with whiplash also experience dizziness, a hot prickling sensation, and headaches.
Whiplash needs time to heal. Many individuals heal within 12 weeks. A cervical collar can help support the neck as the soft tissue heals. Heat pads help ease the pain. Plus, NSAID medications help with both pain and inflammation.
Contact an Attorney
If you are injured in a car crash, you must focus on yourself first. Always let an EMT check you over for injuries. Don’t move until you’re told you can. Damage to the neck or spine can be serious and worsen if you shift position.
Go to the hospital if it’s recommended. Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention and get a professional assessment. The shock of the crash increases adrenaline. As the adrenaline levels decline, pain and discomfort may begin to be apparent.
After you’ve been examined by a physician and are able to discuss the crash, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Legal representation protects your interests and helps you focus on yourself. You need time to recuperate from minor or severe injuries. An attorney can look over the reports, file paperwork, talk to automobile insurance companies for you, and make sure you’re getting a fair settlement.
Make sure you’re getting restitution that covers the time it takes to heal physically and emotionally. Schedule an appointment for a consultation as soon as possible.