More than 3 million people are injured in U.S. vehicle accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Victims have been hospitalized for injuries at speeds as low as 5-10 miles per hour. The degrees and types of injuries sustained vary, but an estimated 10 percent of all motor vehicle accident victims become disabled for the long-term. Louisiana Car Accident Attorney Bart Bernard has seen all kinds of devastating injuries resulting from vehicle crashes. Here are three of the most common.
Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury where the body’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons are stretched due to sudden movements, causing strains, sprains, and tears. Rear-end collisions frequently lead to hyperextension and hyperflexion in the neck and back. More than “just a pain in the neck,” the worst cases lead to bone fractures, herniated discs, complete ligament ruptures, instability in the spine, and traumatic brain injury. Damage to surrounding nerves can trigger a host of adverse effects.
Most people will recover from whiplash within three months, but disability claims experts have found a third of all whiplash injuries persist longer than a year. The average auto insurer spends $2.7 billion a year on whiplash injuries.
Traumatic brain injury and other head injuries
One study found that 39 percent of people in motor vehicle crashes sustained head injuries, with nearly half of these injuries constituted as “severe.” Head injuries can be open lacerations or closed wounds with swelling inside the head. The worst head injuries are sustained when unbelted drivers and passengers are struck head-on, causing the head and face to hit the steering wheel, instrument panel, and glass. Passengers in side collisions also sustained serious head injuries when struck by the door panel.
Mild brain injuries occur with loss of consciousness and disorientation of 30 minutes or less. Scans appear normal, but victims frequently report cognitive problems like headaches, memory problems, attention deficit, and mood swings.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries occur when the brain is struck by an outside force, causing loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes, memory loss greater than 24 hours, and substantial impairment. These patients may encounter headaches, muscle spasms, sleep disturbances, blurry vision, higher cognitive function impairments, anxiety attacks, debilitating fatigue, abnormal burning sensations, and ringing in the ears. Some victims of TBI end up in unresponsive states for long periods of time.
Chest and internal organ injuries
While air bags and seat belts were designed to decrease chest injuries, they still occur with alarming frequency. One study reported that two-thirds of car accident victims suffered chest injuries, with just under half of these considered “severe.” In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of blunt force trauma to the chest, responsible for up to 80 percent of all cases.
Blunt chest trauma ranges from bruising and minor soft tissue wounds to fatal pulmonary and cardiac damage. Chest injuries were most commonly reported by the drivers on the struck side of a vehicle. Fractured ribs or clavicles can puncture the lungs or essential veins. Multiple fractures of the ribs or sternum can result in an unstable chest wall, causing difficulty breathing. Accumulation of blood and inflammatory mediators can compress the heart, increasing pressure and reducing output. Most people with chest injuries heal within 4-6 weeks, but victims may be more susceptible to chest infections, or experience lifelong arrhythmias and pain symptoms.
Contact Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident lawyer Bart Bernard within one year of a car accident to explore your full set of legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for hospital stays, rehabilitative costs, medications, surgeries, loss of income, disability, and pain and suffering.
Additional Vehicle Crash Injury Resources:
- NSW Government – Anatomy of a Crash, http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/geared/your_driving_skills/car_crashes/anatomy_of_a_crash.html
- Traumatic Brain Injury – What Are The Effects of TBI, http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/understanding-tbi/what-are-the-effects-of-tbi/
- Back 2 Health Bellevue – Auto Injury Related Statistics, http://back2healthbellevue.com/auto-injury-related-statistics/
- Modern Medicine – Trauma Nursing Blunt Chest Injuries, http://www.modernmedicine.com/modern-medicine/content/trauma-nursing-blunt-chest-injuries
- National Health System Patient Guide – Chest Injury, http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/10110Pchestinjury.pdf
- Alliance Insurance Group – Filing a Whiplash Claim, http://allianceinsurancegrp.com/know-ever-file-whiplash-injury-insurance-claim/