Every day, people get in their cars and drive. And while there’s a certain freedom associated with driving, it can also be extremely dangerous if you’re not cautious.
Globally, almost 1.3 million people die in car crashes every year, with an additional 20 to 50 million injured or disabled. Over 37,000 of those crash fatalities are right here in the United States, and about 2.35 million people are injured or disabled annually.
If you’re not shocked by these incredibly high numbers, you should be. The likelihood of being involved in an accident and getting injured as a driver or passenger continues to rise, and with more and more people on the road, a crash seems almost inevitable at some point in everyone’s life. Unfortunately, with that crash comes the likelihood of injuries as well.
What kind of injuries are you potentially looking at?
Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries – both mild and severe – and can happen to drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians. So let’s look at the most common ones and then see what steps you should take if you are injured in a crash.
Head and Brain Injuries. Head and brain injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents. They are usually closed head injuries, which means the head is injured as a result of hitting against something. An open head injury, in contrast, is when something actually penetrates the head. These types of injuries can include everything from a concussion to a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Even if you don’t see any physical signs of injury such as a cut or bruise, you should let a medical professional look you over, especially if you happened to hit your head during the accident.
Back Injuries. When we’re involved in a car crash, the impact can put pressure and stress on your back and can cause numerous issues such as:
- Disc injury
- Thoracic spine injury
- Lumbar radiculopathy (pinched nerve)
- Lumbar spine injury
Back injuries might not show up right away, so you want to make sure you are aware of any symptoms or pain you might notice later on. Serious back injuries can also cause chronic pain and discomfort.
Neck Injuries. Like back injuries, neck injuries can be caused by the impact of the crash and can also be long-lasting. These injuries could be mild like a simple neck strain or whiplash, or they could be more severe like a disc injury or cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve).
Face Injuries. Face injuries can happen from an airbag, steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, window, shattered glass, or even your car seats. And they can be as minor as some cuts, scrapes, and bruises, or as serious as fractures and lacerations or severe jaw or dental injuries.
Psychological Injuries. Besides physical injuries, those involved in a car crash – especially a serious crash – can experience a number of psychological issues both short and long-term. Everyone reacts to situations differently, but a car accident could easily cause emotional distress or something similar to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident
If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s important to follow certain steps to make sure your injuries are taken care of. The first, and most important step, is to seek medical help immediately.
Depending on the severity of your accident, you may or may not be able to move and call for help. Either way, when help arrives, let a medical professional thoroughly check you over and take you to the hospital if it’s necessary.
Even if you’re not seriously injured, you should still be looked at and possibly be taken to the hospital to make sure there aren’t any internal injuries.
Also, pay attention to any symptoms you may develop after an accident has happened. This could indicate the presence of an injury you didn’t realize you had.
Once your injuries have been attended to, you should also consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you’re entitled to any compensation. A knowledgeable car crash lawyer will be able to listen to the facts of the accident and determine if you have a valid claim to seek damages for your sustained injuries.
If you do have a case, you should make sure you keep all records and paperwork related to the accident, including everything related to any medical treatment you received. This will serve as proof and as a starting point for the amount of damages you seek.
Although driving can be dangerous, many accidents are also preventable. Anytime you’re on the road, be cautious, be safe, and be aware of what’s happening on the road.
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.