Auto accidents can cause painful injuries that range from minor scrapes and cuts to severe injuries of the spine or head, as well as damage to bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Types of Auto Accident Injuries
The various types of injuries include the following:
Scrapes and Cuts
Scrapes and cuts are usually minor and heal with time. Sometimes deeper cuts may need stitches to prevent bleeding and infection.
Broken bones cause pain, swelling, numbness, and bruising of the injured area. In severe cases, the broken bone can protrude through the skin, causing heavy bleeding at the site of injury.
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, usually caused by a sudden forceful jerk commonly occurring because of an automobile accident. Headache may develop immediately or after a short period of time after the injury. Sometimes, whiplash may also be referred to as neck strain, neck sprain or hyperextension injury.
Head trauma can cause injury to the scalp, skull or brain and is classified as follows:
- Closed Head Injury: An injury to the head where the skull remains intact, but there is bruising or swelling of the brain.
- Open Head Injury: A head injury that causes the skull to fracture and puncture the brain, causing bleeding.
- Concussion: A head injury that causes the brain to shake and forcefully strike against the skull. It can happen when the head is struck or shaken violently and can produce a headache or temporary loss of consciousness.
- Scalp Injuries: Injuries to the tissues of the scalp, producing a bump, bruise or significant bleeding.
Spine trauma can cause damage to the vertebrae, the discs between the vertebrae, the spinal nerves or the ligaments of the spinal cord. You may experience changes in sensation, strength, and other body functions.
Knee fractures may lead to joint instability and loss of motion. They can damage the surrounding soft tissues including skin, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments.
Auto accidents can cause the breakage of one or more ribs. The sharp ends of a broken rib can sever blood vessels or puncture nearby organs such as the lungs, liver, kidney, and spleen causing serious injury.
A direct blow over the shoulder during a motor vehicle accident may cause the clavicle, or collarbone, to break. This will cause difficulty in lifting your arm due to pain, swelling and bruising over the bone.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Auto accidents can cause an anxiety disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can be manifested as episodes of low self-esteem, unpleasant emotions, flashbacks, and insomnia.
- You should call 911 in all cases of serious injuries. While waiting for medical help you can take the following actions:
- Stop bleeding by applying pressure on the wound with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
- Apply ice packs to the area to limit pain and swelling (if available).
- Provide first aid treatment for a shock if you see symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, pale skin or increased heart rate.
- Immobilize the injured area with splints.
Your doctor will prescribe pain medications as needed. Mobilization, stretching and strengthening exercises will be encouraged to improve your balance and agility.
More severe cases will need to be treated by surgery followed by a period of rehabilitation.
Claims Related to the Injury
Most accidents are unintentional but some may be the result of violations of traffic rules or a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In such cases, you may need the help of a personal injury lawyer to claim for damages. It is important to document your injuries well and to keep all receipts for money spent on medical care relating to the injuries.