We wince when we drive past flashing lights and a tangle of metal on the road. That’s because they remind us that we are never far from becoming another car accident injury statistic.
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What to Expect After a Car Accident Injury
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, you probably already know that the expenses begin adding up as soon as the rescue squad rolls out. Bills pile up as you are forced to cope with hospitalizations, rehabilitation, and the long-term care, medical equipment, and even housing changes that are sometimes part of living with a crushing injury.
In addition to the medical bills, the time you miss from work can leave you more vulnerable, as you struggle just to make ends meet. To give you an idea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that people who were injured in car accidents in 2012 are facing $33 billion in lost wages.
Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
Broken bones and fractures
An adult has 206 bones, and there are thousands of ways to break them. A car crash is among the worst.
Car accident victims who suffer broken bones may require surgery, potentially with insertion of a metal rod to help hold the bone in place.
Recovery can take months, and victims can have lingering pain, nerve or blood vessel damage, and arthritis. In the worst cases, broken bones can lead to death through blood loss, blood clots, or infection.
Back and spinal cord injuries
“Car crashes are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries,” the Mayo Clinic warns. The degree of injury dictates the complexity, length, and effectiveness of treatment, which can include difficult and painful physical and occupational therapy, as well as vocational rehabilitation. Partial or full paralysis are possible, depending on where and how severely your spinal cord was injured.
Car accidents can also cause tears, sprains, and strains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back, which can require lengthy and expensive treatment as well.
Head and traumatic brain injuries
Head wounds and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can be visually gruesome. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that “TBI is frequently referred to as the ‘silent epidemic’ because the complications from TBI, such as changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions, may not be readily apparent.”
Because each injury is unique, treatment plans are generally tailored to the individual. They may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech or language therapy, and vocational therapy. In addition, the patient may need treatment from a physiatrist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and family therapist. Treatment is extremely costly and can last a lifetime.
Symptoms of whiplash don’t always appear immediately, which is why it’s important for car accident victims to seek medical treatment even when they don’t know whether they were injured.
Whiplash symptoms can range from neck pain and stiffness to headaches, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the arms, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and depression.
Most people will need a few months of treatment, which can include pain medication and exercise. However, the Mayo Clinic warns that “some people experience chronic neck pain and other ongoing complications.”
These are one of the potentially most painful and disfiguring injuries from car crashes. In addition to the first-, second-, and third-degree burns that accident victims can suffer externally, smoke and heat inhalation can jeopardize the lungs and put victims at risk of internal burns, carbon-monoxide poisoning, and harm from other inhaled toxins. Victims may also suffer from the life-changing effects of disfigurement.
Burn treatment can involve months of hospitalization, serious infection prevention measures, multiple skin grafts and other surgeries, psychological or psychiatric care, physical and occupational therapy, and vocational rehabilitation. On top of all this, burn patients face a significant risk of death throughout the medical battle.
Sprains and strains
These soft-tissue injuries often feature bruising and include, but aren’t limited to, whiplash and lower back pain. Other terms are “muscle strain” and “lumbar sprain.” A sprain is the stressing or tearing of the tendons that connect muscle to bone and ligaments, which connect bone to bone. A muscle strain is just what it sounds like: Muscle is stretched too far or torn.
As with whiplash, the symptoms of sprains and strains can be slow to appear, and the pain can be chronic. Treatment ranges from ice packs and elevation of the injured area to painkillers, physical therapy, and surgery.
Cuts and bruises
With great luck, you’ll be able to walk away from a crash and say of your injury, “It’s just a scratch.” Flesh wounds, from bruises to scrapes to lacerations, are extremely common in collisions where people are bounced around like rag dolls in an environment of flying glass and deploying airbags.
Medical attention is always a good idea, though, because a bruise or scrape can be a sign of internal injuries. And cuts might require stitches and medication to prevent infection.
What should you do if you had an Injury from Car Accident?
- The first and most important thing to do after a car accident is to get help. Call the police and make sure a police report is filed. Even minor accidents should be reported immediately. Then seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Take notes and photos if you can. Photos of your injuries and property damage from the crash site, as well as notes on potential witnesses, will be critical in building your case for compensation.
- Keep all of your paperwork. This includes receipts for all related expenses and medical bills, as well as records of time missed from work due to your injury.
- Talk to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You cannot trust an insurance company to offer you full and fair compensation without a fight. A skilled NYC personal injury lawyer can walk you through what to expect with your car accident claim. See Common Questions About Insurance After an Accident.
Start with a Free Consultation
At Belluck & Fox, our professional lawyers for car accidents have more than 20 years of experience helping injured clients recover the compensation they deserve. Contact our New York location today to schedule a free consultation about your car accident claim, and learn how we will fight for justice for you. We also have locations at Woodstock, Albany and Rochester.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke