Bagen Law Firm | December 26, 2022 | Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42,915 people lost their lives in car crashes last year alone, representing an increase of over 10 percent from the year prior. The estimated total cost of car crashes for the year was $474 billion, with the average economic cost (accounting for medical expenses, wage losses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage, and employers’ uninsured costs) for a fatal car accident at $1,750,000 and $101,000 for a disabling injury.
Even seemingly minor car accidents can result in severe and debilitating injuries that come with many expenses. While you should expect the at-fault party’s insurance company to do the right thing and pay you accordingly for your injuries and costs, that goes against their bottom line. The best way to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries after a car accident is to hire a skilled car accident attorney to represent your claim. They know what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.
When Should You See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
Everyone should be examined by a doctor after a car accident as soon as possible. Doing so helps ensure that if you need to file an injury claim, you will have the documentation and evidence to support it. If your injuries are life-threatening or severe, go in the ambulance and seek medical care right away. If you have some minor scrapes or don’t have any symptoms at all, you can seek care from your own physician or clinic within a day or two.
No matter the extent or type of your injuries, don’t wait to be seen by a licensed medical professional. If you wait, the at-fault party’s insurance company might argue that your injuries resulted from something that happened after the car accident and not the accident itself. Seeing a doctor and documenting your symptoms and injuries will serve your claim well.
Be sure to tell the doctor where you were sitting in the vehicle if you know how the accident happened and any prior injuries or medical conditions you have. You will also want to follow their advice and instructions. If you don’t, it will give the impression that you either aren’t really injured or don’t care about your injuries. Continue with any treatments or follow-up care they recommend.
Who Will Pay for Your Medical Bills?
When someone else causes your car accident, they (usually through their auto insurance company) are liable for paying your damages.
Your damages include your medical bills, such as:
- EMS and ambulance services
- ER bills
- Surgery bills
- Hospital bills
- Doctors and specialists visit bills
- Prescription medications
- Diagnostic tests and treatments
- Medical device expenses, such as for crutches or a wheelchair
- Physical therapy
- Home healthcare
Additionally, they can also be liable for your related non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages don’t have a pre-assigned value and can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When you hire a car accident attorney, they will work to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your medical bills, non-economic damages, and other applicable losses.
Common types of Car Accident Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
TBIs occur when the brain suffers damage from a piercing injury or extreme force. Car accidents and falls remain a leading cause of TBI in the U.S. Annually, 50,000 individuals die from a TBI, and another 80,000 to 90,000 sustain long-term disability.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and Paralysis
The severe impact of a motor vehicle crash and torque on the body can result in long-term disability from spinal cord injuries. Long or short-term total or partial paralysis below the level of the injury (quadriplegia/tetraplegia and paraplegia) can occur. While science and technology have improved these individuals’ quality of life and the chances of future mobility, an SCI is still a catastrophic injury deserving significant compensation.
While it supports the body and provides some protection, the human spine cannot withstand heavy impacts. As such, back injuries are a typical result of motor vehicle crashes. In fact, back injuries may not be discovered right away after an accident, making it imperative to seek medical attention from a licensed medical professional after an accident. Unfortunately, the pain and disability from a severe back injury can be serious and long-lasting.
Sometimes, a vehicle can catch fire after an accident, or skin can come into contact with hot fluids, surfaces, chemicals, or steam, and the car’s occupants can have burned. Severe or extensive burns may require surgery and skin grafting. They are also at risk of infection and other painful and expensive complications.
When an accident violently pushes the body into an object or the body is struck by powerful flying debris, damage to internal organs might occur. Internal bleeding from this type of injury demands emergency medical treatment yet sometimes reveals no symptoms. This is another reason why seeking medical care is so important, even if you don’t feel like you suffered an injury after an accident.
Fractures and Broken Bones
Broken bones of all types of legs, ribs, arms, ankles, and wrists are common in motor vehicle accidents. Sometimes victims may even suffer a fractured pelvis. From a simple break that requires only a cast or another method of immobilization to severe breaks or compound fractures that may need surgery to repair, they are all painful and may require follow-up treatments such as physical therapy.
Disfiguring Facial Injuries and Scars
Facial injuries in crashes can happen due to broken glass or other flying debris. They can also result from an impact with a steering wheel, windshield, dashboard, airbag, side window, car seat, or any hard surfaces. Disfiguring facial injuries might need plastic surgery and can still leave a victim with a permanent scar.
Limb Loss and Amputation
An arm, hand, leg, ankle, foot, toe, finger, or other appendages can be accidentally severed in a crash or damaged so severely that they need a surgical amputation. Unfortunately, amputations can have permanent disabling impacts on the victim. As a result, they often face a long road to recovery with several surgeries.
Neck Injuries and Whiplash
Whiplash is the common name for muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries that can happen in a car accident. Even speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can result in whiplash, with or without wearing a seatbelt. Severe disk injury and cervical dislocation injuries might also arise from car accidents.
Knee, Foot, and Ankle Injuries
Knees can smash into any part of the vehicle causing minor to severe injuries from bruises to multiple fractures. Additionally, the meniscus, or cartilage, can tear if twisted or turned abruptly in a crash.
Toe, feet, ankle sprains, strains, and fractures are also common in car crashes. Injuries to any of these areas of the body can result in temporary or permanent disability and the need for additional time off of work. Some people may even require surgery, physical therapy, or ongoing pain medication.
Bracing the hands on the steering wheel or dashboard in a car accident may lead to shoulder injuries. This type of action causes the shoulder to lock in position as it bears excessive force from the impact of the collision. Shoulder injuries can be quite painful and may require surgery.
Wrist and Hand Injuries
Broken wrists are quite common in car accidents, as those who are in an accident may try to use their hands to brace themselves in an accident. Depending on the severity of the fracture, surgery might be necessary to heal properly and return to the best functionality possible.
Lacerations, Bruises, and Road Rash
Lacerations in a car accident can stem from many things, such as broken glass, torn sheet metal, or other flying debris. The impact of the body against any object, or vice versa, can result in contusions and bruises. A road rash abrasion results from the friction of being dragged or skidding on pavement or concrete. Road rash can develop complications, such as an infection or the need for a skin graft, or permanent scarring. It is also very painful.
Crush injuries occur when any body part gets caught between two hard objects that are pushed together under pressure. The results can vary, ranging from minor bruising and cuts to severe damage to tissues, organs, muscles, and bones. Surgery, severe bleeding, and amputations are often associated with crush injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries frequently occur in automobile accidents, including sprains, strains, bruising, and damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While they might sound minor compared to other injuries, soft tissue injuries can be very painful and come with a lengthy recovery.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Not all car accident injuries are outwardly visible. Victims can suffer from mental and emotional injuries due to a car accident. Some car accident victims develop PTSD, causing routine tasks to become stressful or even impossible. They may have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or just riding in a car. Even though these aren’t physical injuries, treatment and recovery from these issues are just as important. Some car accident victims need medication and counseling to deal with post-car accident PTSD.
You should also be aware that car accident victims often suffer multiple injuries, putting them at higher risk for complications or even death. Even a single injury in a car accident can cause alterations to your life and hefty medical bills that you can’t pay on your own.
What if I Have a Previous Injury?
If you have a previous injury, it’s all the more critical that you hire a skilled car accident attorney to represent you. A previous injury doesn’t preclude you from eligibility for injury compensation but can make it harder to obtain. Be honest with your treating physicians and your car accident attorney about any previous medical conditions or injuries you have. It’s in your best interest to avoid lying or trying to cover them up.
Several states have eggshell injury laws providing medically or psychologically fragile accident victims the right to receive full compensation for their injuries, even if their injuries are more severe than they might have been if not for the pre-existing condition.
For instance, an incident that wouldn’t cause injury to a healthy individual can cause serious injury to someone with a pre-existing condition. In such a case, the at-fault party will still be liable for the total cost of the injured person’s new damages.
If you speak to the insurance adjustor before an attorney, they may ask you to sign a medical release form. While this might seem routine and necessary, you do not have to sign it, and you might be opening yourself up to unnecessary problems in your case. Don’t sign anything until you speak to an attorney. The insurance company doesn’t have an automatic right to all your previous medical records.
Unfortunately, car insurance adjusters frequently tell claimants with pre-existing conditions that they must settle for less because of their pre-existing injury or health condition. They don’t want you to know that you are entitled to fair compensation despite ongoing medical treatment, older injuries, or normal aging conditions. When you have representation from an attorney, you won’t have to deal with the insurance adjuster attempting to deceive you.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Most car accident attorneys provide a free consultation and represent clients on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing upfront, and the lawyer won’t get paid unless they settle your claim or win in court. Since it costs nothing to have an attorney review your case, it’s in your best interest to meet with one. Typically, accident victims who are represented by attorneys receive larger settlements or court awards than those who try to represent themselves.
Getting medical attention for your car accident injuries is your immediate priority following a crash. Once you are stable, reach out for the legal help you need.