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Common Injuries in Car Accidents

Traffic collisions are a leading cause of serious injury and death in the United States.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost two and half million people were injured in motor vehicle collisions throughout the U.S. in 2021. Here in Austin, thousands of people are injured in traffic accidents each year.

The actual injuries someone suffers in an accident depend on a wide range of factors, including everything from the type of vehicle they were in and the speed of both vehicles at the time of the collision to their health and position in the vehicle.  While a  relatively minor injury in a vehicle accident can have a profound impact on a person’s life, a serious or catastrophic injury can result in permanent disability and even death.  Unfortunately, such injuries are all too common in traffic collisions.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, are common in motor vehicle accidents because the head can impact a hard surface because of the force involved in the crash. Even if the head does not strike a hard surface, the force of the impact may be significant enough to cause the brain to crash into the bones of the skull and cause a traumatic brain injury.   This type of injury can lead to long-term complications and damage that may not be immediately visible.  In such cases, it may affect concentration or mood and negatively affect a person’s family life or career.

If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury, seeking prompt medical attention is essential. Here are common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries:

  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with the senses, such as ringing in the ears, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or sound, loss of smell, or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Problems remembering or concentrating
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness or tingling of the limbs

Spinal Cord Injuries

The back and spine can absorb much of the force involved in a car crash, which can lead to serious spinal cord injuries. Some of these injuries can result in permanent paralysis while others can lead to chronic pain and an altered lifestyle. Spinal cord injuries in car accidents can also include cervical dislocation and severe disk injuries.

Amputations

Serious car crashes can result in amputations at the scene of the crash or from complications that arise later. Some amputations can lead to the loss of a limb, while others can lead to the loss of a finger, toe, or other body part. These injuries can be permanently disabling or lead to disfigurement that negatively impacts the victim’s life for years to come.

Internal Organ Injuries

The same forces that can significantly injure the back or spine can also cause severe injury to internal organs. Damage to the spleen, liver, small intestine, or other organs can sometimes go undiagnosed initially. Left untreated, organ damage can cause internal bleeding, which can be fatal.  This is one of the many reasons why it is essential to seek a medical evaluation after an accident, whether you have visible injuries or not.

Broken Bones

Because of the force of a collision, any bone in the human body can break. Some of the most common broken bones in car accidents include:

  • Leg
  • Arm
  • Ankle
  • Wrist
  • Pelvis
  • Hip

While some broken bones can be treated with a cast, complex fractures might require surgery.

Dislocated Joints

Joints like knees or elbows can be injured during a car accident when two bones that meet at them pull apart. Monitor yourself for signs of a dislocation after a collision, such as pain or limited range of motion.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues like tendons, muscles, tissues, and ligaments can be injured during car crashes. Sprains and strains are common soft tissue injuries. These injuries can be difficult to diagnose because they sometimes do not appear in imaging tests like X-rays. However, a doctor’s physical examination and more sophisticated imaging tests can help to properly diagnose them.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are also common in car accidents because knees can slam into the dashboard or other hard surfaces in the vehicle. These injuries can range in severity from simple bruises to dislocated kneecaps and broken bones. Cartilage in the knee can also tear apart from the knee, leading to painful injuries.

Whiplash

Whiplash is a common injury motor vehicle accident victims suffer. This injury occurs when the neck suddenly snaps backward and forward. This sudden jolting can cause a strain on the neck muscles. Speeds as low as 15 mph can result in this injury, even when the victim is wearing a seatbelt. Whiplash can be particularly painful and can sometimes take months or longer to heal from.

Emotional Injuries

Not all car accident injuries are physical in nature. Car accidents can cause mental, emotional, and psychological injuries that can continue to negatively affect victims for years to come. Potential psychological effects of car accidents can include:

  • Heightened fear and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

Car accidents are a leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a serious psychological condition that can disrupt a victim’s life. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Distressing thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Recurring memories or dreams of the traumatic event
  • Physical signs of stress, such as sweating or a racing heart
  • Avoiding driving or other triggering events
  • Tension
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Problems concentrating or remembering
  • Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Being easily startled
  • Engaging in risky or destructive behaviors
  • Avoiding being around others
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Negative thoughts and emotions

If you were injured in an accident, you may have the right to have your medical bills covered, including any counseling or mental health care.

What to Do If You Suspect You Were Injured

If you may have been injured in a car accident, there are some steps you can take to protect your health and legal rights, including:

  • Seeking medical attention promptly
  • Reporting the accident to law enforcement
  • Keeping your original medical bills and records

You don’t want to give the insurance company any reason to doubt the seriousness of your injuries. By documenting your injuries promptly and accurately, you can prevent these arguments from arising in the first place.

Contact FVF Law for Help with Your Car Accident Case

Car accident victims are often confused about their rights after suffering serious injuries. The Austin car accident lawyers at FVF Law can thoroughly explain your options, help determine whether hiring our injury lawyers is the best choice for you, and make recommendations whether you work with us or not. We have helped car accident victims recover financial compensation since 2014 and have over 100 years of combined legal experience. Contact us for a free consultation by calling (512) 640-2146.

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Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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