There are over 218 million licensed drivers in the United States so it is not surprising that each year there are over 2.4 million injuries as a result of car accidents. Car accident injuries can range from minor bumps and bruises to life long disabilities. Although many injuries are obvious, like a broken bone, there are many hidden injuries that are not immediately identifiable. Whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, shoulder and knee injuries, and psychological injuries are very common hidden injuries that an individual may experience following an accident.
Whiplash is a condition most commonly associated with rear end car accidents. There are four phases of whiplash. Initial position is the first phase in which the head and neck are in the position prior to the accident. Retraction occurs at the impact of the accident when the head and neck are forced back. Next, extension forces the head and neck forward. The forward motion is suddenly stopped by the seatbelt, leading to rebound where the head and neck are forced back to the initial position. These intense, rapid movements lead to torn muscles and sprained ligaments in the neck. If left untreated, whiplash can lead to herniated discs- the bulging and rupturing of soft tissue between vertebrae. Herniated discs cause extreme pain, inflammation, numbness of extremities, and can sometimes require surgery.
Whiplash is not the only injury that can result from the violent movements the head and neck undergo during an accident. Traumatic brain injury and concussions are common in car accidents even when the head does not make contact with another object like a window or steering wheel. Traumatic brain injuries are not always obvious at the time of the accident and can range from minor to severe. After a car accident, if a person suffers from a headache, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or sensitivity to light and noise, it is imperative to seek medical attention.
As the body is jolted from the impact of an accident, the seatbelt strap and the proximity of one’s knees to the car dashboard make shoulder and knee injuries prevalent in car accidents. When an accident occurs, the body produces adrenaline to mask the pain that an injury causes. It is not uncommon to walk away from a car accident feeling unharmed, but experience knee or shoulder pain days or even weeks later. These areas of the body endure a lot of wear and tear and if left untreated will worsen with time and physical exertion. Shoulder and knee injuries may interfere with sleep, work, and everyday activities.
Long after the physical injuries, even the hidden ones, are diagnosed and healed, physiological injuries may still plague a person involved in an accident. Severe car crashes can be emotionally traumatizing and cause stress, anxiety and depression. Someone involved in a crash may have nightmares or even experience symptoms of PTSD resulting in their inability to drive.
Although a person may walk away from a car accident, it doesn’t mean that they do not have an injury. Twenty five percent of people injured in car accidents do not make a full recovery and often, this is a result of hidden injuries being ignored. If you are involved in a car accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in identifying symptoms related to hidden injuries. Without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Delray Beach, FL trusts, you may not receive the care and compensation necessary to overcome your car accident injuries.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Eric H. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into personal injury practice.