The Long-Term Impacts of an Auto Accident
Almost everyone knows that even a minor automobile accident can cause injuries to the driver, other vehicle occupants, or even bystanders. Many of these injuries are obvious and require immediate treatment; In some cases, injuries may even require hospitalization. In contrast, some injuries may not be as obvious to all, including paramedics. Unfortunately, some injuries may become worse over time causing pain, suffering, and the loss of the ability to work or engage in normal activities. Depending upon the nature of the injury, it may take days, weeks, or even months for symptoms to appear.
Injuries from a car wreck that can have long-term consequences:
Connective Tissue Injuries
A connective tissue injury includes injuries to your skin, muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments. Connective tissue injuries are the most common injury in vehicular accidents due to the acute physical force the body is subjected to upon impact.
- Injuries to the skin, or lacerations, often occur when objects within the car are propelled during a crash. On impact, common objects such as children’s toys, travel mugs, cell phones, purses or bags, boxes, or other items in the car can get projected in the air, in rapid and erratic motion, with possibility of striking vehicle occupants. Broken glass and/or broken portions of the car’s interior may also cause skin injuries. While minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises will usually heal over time, more serious cuts and burns can leave scars, or may require expensive cosmetic surgery to correct.
- Whiplash, a very common injury in car crashes, is an injury to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons of the neck. Whiplash can occur even in minor accidents or fender benders. Whiplash can occur on impact by the head thrusting backwards and then forwards during an accident. The first signs of whiplash are often mild, such as a headache, and/or stiff neck, or neck pain. In the following days, weeks, or sometimes months of an accident, these symptoms can become much more painful; which can become chronic, meaning it doesn’t go away. This type of chronic pain can severely limit your ability to do the simplest tasks. You might also experience nerve sensations that go down one or both of your arms such as: pins and needles, tingling, electrical shock feelings, and/or burning. Whiplash isn’t limited to your neck; your upper back and lower back can suffer a whiplash injury that can cause painful muscle spasms and chronic pain.
- Back injuries are also common after an auto accident. The back, spine, and other Connective Tissues in our body, are particularly vulnerable to the forceful impact of auto collisions. Even when taking proper care, one can still suffer chronic conditions. One example of this, is if someone suffered a herniated disc in an auto wreck. These discs protect our spine and the bundle of nerves running through our spine. When a person suffers a herniated disc, they will often experience tingling sensations, muscle weakness, and even constant pain in their arms and legs. This pain may also take days, weeks, or months to develop.
Over the long-term, back injuries can result in reduced control in certain parts of your body, such as your hands, legs and feet and can sometimes lead to paralysis.
- Rotator cuff tears and strains are another common auto crash injury. They are caused by tears in the tendons that connect the muscles around our shoulders, and often take a long time to heal; In some cases resulting in an inability to complete daily tasks.
- Knee injuries are another common injury from an auto wreck, often caused by the knees striking the dashboard of the vehicle. The long-term consequences include difficulty walking, tears to the meniscus (the cartilage in the knee), and the use of crutches and/or braces. Because of the vulnerable nature of the human knee joint, knee injuries can easily become lifelong injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries from an auto crash can range from mild to severe. In an auto accident, your head may strike the steering wheel, the side window, the dashboard, or the windshield; In a motorcycle crash, your head has the additional risk of striking the pavement. While cuts and scrapes to your head will be visible, what may not be seen is the damage inside your skull caused by the crash. These injuries are known as “Closed Head Injuries.” A mild closed head injury may be deemed a concussion, while a more serious type of this injury is known as a TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury. A traumatic brain injury can occur when brain tissue has been either damaged or destroyed during the impact of an auto crash. Far too often, accident victims don’t realize that they have a brain injury at first, due to the shock and adrenaline experienced immediately following a crash.
A traumatic brain injury can have significant immediate and long-term, chronic consequences that may include:
- Persistent Headaches
- Cognitive impairment/Inability to think clearly
- Behavioral changes
- Visual Disturbances
- Sleep problems
- Problems with movement
- Memory loss
- Balance problems
All of these can significantly impair your ability to work, complete daily tasks such as taking care of yourself, and sadly, it can sometimes impact your ability to enjoy life. Severe cases of traumatic brain injury can include a state of complete unconsciousness, also known as a coma, or death.
Learn more about Traumatic Brain Injuries here.
Psychological and Emotional Injuries
These are typically the injuries that can’t be seen, but they are just as real and painful as physical injuries and can also lead to the loss of ability to work and enjoy leisure activities. Such injuries can include:
- Flashbacks to the crash
- Fear about driving or riding in vehicles
- Feelings of Guilt
- Post TraumaticStress Disorder, or PTSD, is common among crash survivors and can include all of the above symptoms as well as recurring nightmares, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and difficulty in relating to loved ones or co-workers. All of these can make routine activities worrisome, difficult, or even impossible.
- Personality or Behavior Changes
- Sexual Dysfunction
It is important to seek medical treatment immediately following any auto wreck, even if you think you feel fine; as the long-term effects of an accident may not appear for some time.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a vehicle accident, a vital step toward making yourself whole and preserving your rights is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. At Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, our legal professionals have decades of experience working with car crash victims and we will fight hard to make sure you receive the attention you deserve and the highest compensation for your injuries.
Learn More About Automobile Accidents
Visit here to learn more about Motor Vehicle Accidents, or call the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, The Heavy Hitters at 1800LAW1010 (1-800-529-1010).