Almost everyone in America drives a car — and those who don’t drive will often use taxis or ridesharing programs to get to the places to which they need to go. In 2018, data showed that there were nearly 227 million drivers in American, with over 3.240 billion miles being driven annually. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that car accidents are a common concern while out on the road. In fact, most people will encounter an accident at least once in their lives. However, if you find yourself in an accident, do you know what to do?
The most common injuries from a car accident will range from minor to debilitating. It’s important to know how to handle a situation like this should you ever find yourself in one. To help better prepare you, here is what you need to know.
The Most Common Injuries From a Car Accident
Many different types of injury can occur during a car accident. However, some are more common than others. While it’s always recommended to see your doctor after an accident, it can also be beneficial to know what types of injuries to look out for yourself.
- Scrapes and Cuts: Depending on the type of accident, scrapes and cuts can be covered with a bandage or require surgery. During the impact, you could be hit by falling projectiles such as loose items in your car, or even glass from a busted window or car windshield. While not all cuts will require medical intervention, some can pose a risk of infection or scarring if not cared for and healed properly. If only for insurance purposes, you may consider stopping by one of the urgent care clinics for documentation and professional opinion.
- Whiplash: Possibly one of the most common injuries from a car accident is whiplash. During an impact, your body often moves faster than you normally can on your own. This can cause strain on muscles and ligaments which can be incredibly painful once your adrenaline has worn off. While whiplash often doesn’t involve broken bones, it is a condition that can take time to heal properly. Depending on the severity, you may even need physical therapy to ensure a full recovery.
- Head Injury: Another of the most common injuries from a car accident, head injuries can be caused by your head slamming into either the steering wheel or headrest during impact. All head injuries should be considered significant until professionally diagnosed otherwise. After an accident, you should consider an emergency room visit to rule out any complications that could cause long-term problems. While you may not feel the extent of the damage immediately after an accident, an ER visit can help not only rule out more severe problems but can also give you proper documentation for an insurance claim. If legal action is needed, this documentation can help get you the compensation that you need, which can be especially helpful if you do end up needing more costly medical treatment.
- Broken Bones and Fractures: Broken bones are another of the most common injuries from a car accident, and if you experience this, medical intervention will be necessary. Similarly, you will have to know how to take care of a fracture, even if it appears minor. For smaller fractures, treatments like anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, and compressions can be used to help heal the injury. However, more serious fractures will require casts to help the bone heal correctly. In cases where these types of injuries are present, visits with orthopedic doctors will be your best course of action. Not only will they be able to treat your injury, but they can help you document everything so that you can get fair compensation when you file a personal injury claim. In addition to medical compensation, if your injury prevents you from working, you may be able to file for additional compensation based on lost wages. If this is the case, you should also consider hiring a trained lawyer to ensure you get everything you are owed.
- Herniated Disc: Another of the most common injuries from a car accident, a herniated disc occurs when one or more vertebrae are ruptures or moves out of place. This can cause significant pain and may even require intervention by a spine surgeon to correct. In cases that don’t require surgery, most herniated discs can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and low activity levels for up to several weeks. Physical therapy may also be used. But if the injury isn’t responding to these treatments or if the pain or weakness is too much, your doctor may advise surgery. In either case, as with the injuries mentioned above, you should take care to document and keep any records related to your medical evaluations and treatments. If a herniated disc is impairing your quality of life or preventing you from returning to work, an auto accident lawyer can use these documents to further increase your chances of receiving adequate compensation.
- Internal Bleeding: While sometimes not immediately evident, internal bleeding is one of the most common injuries from a car accident, especially those that are more severe. It’s often caused by blunt trauma. If, for example, your body was struck during the accident, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Internal bleeding can be life-threatening, so it’s best to not wait for treatment.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: While not a physical injury, make no mistake that PTSD is just as serious and as debilitating as any visible injury. PTSD, after a car accident, can make driving or even sitting in a car nearly impossible. When something so common becomes an emotionally stressful trigger, navigating your daily life can quickly become much more difficult. Sadly, PTSD is one of the most common injuries from a car accident, and it can take months (if not years) of treatment to recover.
While these are the most common injuries from a car accident that you can experience, they are by no means the only types of injuries that can occur. Even in the most seemingly minor accidents, it’s always advisable to see a doctor just to rule out any undetected injuries. What may seem like a sore back at first can quickly grow to be something more debilitating.
Furthermore, be sure to keep all relevant medical documents for reference and proof that you can give to your insurance company. If a significant injury has occurred, it’s also advised to hire an attorney to protect your rights and increase your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. Oftentimes, insurance companies will try to pay only the bare minimum, assuming that most people won’t question the payout or try to fight for more. This can lead to you receiving far less than you need and far less than you are owed.
Why You Need a Lawyer and What to Look For
If you have experienced one of the most common injuries from a car accident and are now in the process of filing an insurance claim, it’s important to know whether to get an attorney involved. Insurance companies have their own teams of lawyers who evaluate all claims; without a lawyer of your own, you may be facing an uneven playing field. This can lead to you getting less than you deserve or it may even result in your claim being denied altogether. However, by hiring your own attorney who is well versed in personal injury law, you can give yourself a better chance and show the insurance company that you’re taking your claim seriously.
Many minor car accidents with no injuries may not require legal action. But if you have experienced an injury, hiring an attorney should be one of the first things you do after seeking medical attention. However, not all law firms are created equally. When looking for a qualified attorney, you’ll want to consider a few points.
- How long have they been practicing?
- How many personal injury cases have they worked?
- How many cases have they won?
- Do they primarily work with car accident cases or are they specialized in another field?
Firstly, while you shouldn’t outright avoid inexperienced lawyers. It’s important to consider how long they’ve been practicing, especially in relation to personal injury law. This can tie into the specific specializations some lawyers may have. For instance, if your lawyer has more experience with divorce and family law, they probably aren’t what you’re looking for.
The number of cases a lawyer has worked and has tried in court can also give you an idea of how experienced they are. However, this should be considered alongside how many of those cases have been won. If a lawyer has lost a good number of their previous cases, you may wish to interview other options before settling on which is the best choice for you.
Additionally, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with at least two different lawyers. Interviewing multiple options can help you gauge which you feel most comfortable with, as well as which seems the most invested in your case. Some of the biggest firms often end up being little more than settlement mills, moving through cases without much investment in the actual outcome. To prevent falling into a trap like this, always keep multiple options open and if possible consider looking for reviews from past clients, some of which may be readily available online.
Looking at all of this, you may think that hiring a lawyer is more work than it’s worth. However, they can actually make the process much easier overall. Filing a claim, especially when an injury is involved, can be difficult and confusing. Essentially, you may find yourself at the mercy of your insurance company; while you should be able to trust their judgment, at the end of the day, their main concern will be saving money for themselves. Thankfully, a lawyer can help walk you through the entire process and help you file everything correctly. They will also be able to use all of your medical documentation to further prove your need for adequate compensation.
Furthermore, an accident lawyer isn’t only necessary if you’ve experienced one of the most common injuries from a car accident. They can help you if you’re unsure how injured you actually are, due to an inability to pay for specialists or additional testing. They should also be involved if you’re afraid you won’t be able to pay for treatment or if your insurance company is trying to pin the blame on you. This problem, in particular, is more common than it should be and it usually starts with your insurance company saying you didn’t report your injury soon enough or you otherwise made it worse by not seeking treatment quickly. With reasons like this, companies try to pin the blame on you and remove the need to pay you adequately. A lawyer will be able to fight these claims and take steps to ensure that you get what you are entitled to.
If your case has also caused you to miss work or lose wages, you will similarly need to hire a lawyer to help ensure that these losses are covered appropriately. Without knowing the ins and outs of personal injury law, difficult claims like this can quickly be dismissed or taken advantage of by insurance companies, leaving you struggling with your injury and the resulting bills and lost wages.
Staying Safe and Covering Your Bases
With so many of us relying on cars as our main sources of transportation, it’s important to know what to do should you find yourself in an accident. Aside from knowing the most common injuries from a car accident, you should also keep in mind the type of representation you’ll need if you become injured on the road. It may even be worth preemptively researching law firms in your area so that you have an idea of who to call should you need a personal injury attorney. While they will hopefully never be needed, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to safeguarding your health and your wellbeing.