It’s something none of us want to think about: the awful crunch of metal on metal. The smell of automotive fluids or burnt rubber. The fear of knowing you probably have an expensive and possibly painful road ahead.
Like it or not, we risk a car accident every time we get on the road. That’s why it’s important to learn everything you can about what to expect so you know what to do if the need arises.
Start by reading up on the most common car accident injuries and how they happen.
Chances are that you’ve heard of whiplash, but what is it?
Whiplash is a general term for straining the muscles, ligaments, or other soft tissues in your neck. It happens when your head whips back and forth with a lot of force. It’s especially common for rear-end crashes.
Whiplash feels like soreness in your neck that may develop hours after your accident. It will heal with time, but doctors may be able to help with stretches, physical therapy, or advice for home care regimens.
In most cases, your skull does a great job of protecting your brain. When there is too strong of an impact like hitting your head on a dashboard, your brain can hit against the inside of your skull. The result is a concussion.
Concussions can be mild enough to have few symptoms or none at all. In other cases, they can be severe enough to cause mental changes like memory loss. Often a concussion seems minor at first but the symptoms develop later.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to get medical attention after a crash. You need a medical professional to determine if you may have a concussion and to create a treatment plan if you do.
During a car accident, your back could twist or bend in ways it shouldn’t. That could cause injuries to the discs in your back.
Discs are the small cushions between the vertebrae bones in your back. Inside each disc is a center called a nucleus.
Injuries like car accidents can push a disc’s nucleus out toward the disc’s outer wall, which is called a bulging disc. If the disc’s outer wall ruptures and the nucleus starts to peek out, it’s called a herniated disc or ruptured disc.
Depending on how serious the injury is and what type of treatment you have available, disc injuries could lead to long-lasting pain.
From minor hairline fractures to serious breaks, broken bones are common in car accidents.
The areas of your body that are at the highest risk will depend on the type of crash and where you’re sitting. Drivers and front-seak passengers often have injuries to their legs and feet if the impact is on the front of the car.
Broken arms are also common. You may put your arm in front of you by instinct to shield yourself from the impact. As a result, the thin bones in your arm take much of the impact and they may not be able to withstand it.
Speaking of trying to protect yourself with your arms, this often leads to another injury: wrist sprains.
If you put up your hand against the dashboard, window, or another part of the car, it puts stress on your wrist. Chances are that you’re pressing harder than you think you are with that wrist because your body is in a tense, stressful state. That’s a recipe for a sprained wrist.
Cuts and Scrapes
In the chaos of a car accident, there are plenty of ways to get cuts and scrapes. From broken glass to metal pieces to items inside your car that may go flying during the impact, it’s no wonder why cuts are so common.
While they seem minor compared to concussions and broken bones, cuts still need medical attention. If you have a cut that gapes open to any degree, it needs stitches. Without the right treatment, you could a serious and life-threatening infection.
Bruises are similar. They appear after many car accidents but if they’re large or severe bruises, you should see a doctor to make sure you don’t have internal bleeding.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Not all the injuries you can get from a car crash are physical. Sometimes the most damaging changes happen in your mental health.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is common after a car accident. After all, anyone would be traumatized by the intense fear you feel in that moment.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, tend to have higher anxiety levels on an ongoing basis. They have fear about getting back into a car after the crash. They often say that the accident keeps replaying in their minds as well.
If you think you have PTSD, it’s just as important to get treatment for that injury as it is to treat a physical injury. A psychologist can help your mind cope with the trauma and get you on the path back to health.
What to Do if You Sustain Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries can range from mild discomforts to life-changing issues. The problem is that you don’t know which it is until you see a doctor.
After any accident, get medical attention right away. If there are no paramedics on the scene, go to an urgent care center. Tell them you’ve been in an accident and would like them to examine you for injuries.
This serves two purposes. First, it ensures that you get treatment for injuries you may not know you have yet.
Second, it gives you legal documentation of those injuries. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you need that documentation to pass the expense to the driver at fault.
The next step is to talk to a lawyer while the accident is fresh in your mind. If you’ve been in a car accident, call our attorneys today to find out how to begin your case.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.