Car accidents are all too common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are roughly 5.25 million driving accidents that take place every year, equaling about one accident every minute of every day. This translates to about 43,000 deaths annually, while an additional 2.9 million drivers end up suffering light or severe injuries. These are not small numbers – the reality is that, if you drive a vehicle, you will probably be injured in an auto accident at some point in your life.
If you are injured, it is important that you seek treatment for your injuries right away. There can be permanent consequences if you don’t.
Common Car Accident Injuries (and What Happens if They’re Left Untreated)
Most neck injuries in auto accidents are the result of whiplash, a phenomenon that occurs when the soft tissues of the neck are strained when the neck is suddenly and violently jolted in one direction or another. What occurs during whiplash is that the ligaments that support and restrict excessive movement of the vertebrae in the neck are torn. This tearing results in a few key symptoms, including pain and stiffness in the neck, headache, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, nausea, and blurred vision. Most of these symptoms will ordinarily disappear on their own over time, but more severe cases of whiplash require medication and physical therapy to be overcome. If these more severe cases of whiplash are left untreated, the ordinarily temporary symptoms of whiplash can become chronic, causing lifetime pain and discomfort.
A spinal fracture occurs when the bones in your spine (called vertebrae) break and collapse.
They are most often caused by sudden trauma or injury to the back and are thus very common injuries to suffer in a car accident. The symptoms of a spinal fracture include sudden onset of back pain (especially when standing or walking) and trouble bending or moving your body. If left untreated, the vertebrae in your spine could heal into a broken or caved-in position, which can lead to kyphosis—the medical term for the postural change that people often refer to as “hunchback.”
A concussion is a head injury that causes a temporary disruption of brain function and results in loss of consciousness, as well as other symptoms including dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, hand or leg tremors, and ringing in the ears. Concussions are caused by a blow to the head or sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head, both of which are very common in car accidents. If you suffer a concussion, it is important that you seek medical attention right away, since even minor injuries to the brain can have serious effects on one’s life. If left untreated, the symptoms of a concussion can evolve into post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which is a debilitating condition that can last for years and involves swelling and bleeding of the brain, seizures, and convulsions.
Broken and fractured bones are the result of trauma to the bone that causes it to break or become displaced. Some bones, such as collar bones and rib bones, can heal on their own without treatment. However, the vast majority of bones will require treatment, which involves realigning the bone and immobilizing it with a plaster cast. If a broken or fractured bone that cannot heal itself goes untreated, several complications can arise, including:
Malunion: “Malunion” means that the two bone fragments heal out of alignment with each other and will knit together at an odd angle. This causes discomfort and deformity, and can even lead to osteoarthritis. The only way to correct malunion is to re-break the bone and carry out a surgical repair, which usually results in permanent weakness of the bone.
Nonunion: “Nonunion” occurs when soft tissue gets stuck between the bones when the fracture occurs, or the fragments are too far apart to grow back together. Like malunion, nonunion causes pain and deformity, and can only be corrected through surgery.
Post-traumatic arthritis: Post-traumatic arthritis is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage in a joint after an injury, and is especially common in cases where malunion and nonunion have occurred. Post-traumatic arthritis causes the bones to rub against each other, resulting in significant pain for the sufferer. This type of arthritis can ordinarily be treated with physical therapy and medication, but severe cases will require surgical joint replacement.
What to Do After an Auto Accident Injury
Seek medical attention immediately: If you are injured in an auto accident, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately. Although you may think you are fine at the time or that your injuries aren’t that severe, more severe injury symptoms can develop as long as several days after the accident. Waiting too long can not only exacerbate your injuries, but it can also make it harder to prove that your injuries were the result of the car accident.
Keep medical records: Be sure and take detailed notes and photos of your injuries so you can get the full reimbursement you are entitled to from your insurance company. This includes all of the correspondence you have with medical professionals, copies of medical bills and receipts, and travel expenses for medical appointments. These records can also become useful in litigation later, should it arise.
Keep records of the accident: You should also keep records about the accident itself in order to strengthen your personal injury claim. This includes photos of the accident location, photos of your car’s damage, proof of financial losses, and the names and contact information of witnesses.
Contact a New Port Richey, FL Auto Accident Attorney for Help
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652