Types of Injuries Sustained In Car Accidents

Car crashes happen so quickly and can cause extensive injuries within seconds due to the nature of these types of accidents and the factors involved, such as the speed of the vehicles and the types of vehicles involved in the collision.

There is a direct correlation between the speed of the vehicles and the extent of the injuries sustained by the people in the accident. The reason for this is because the cars and the people inside of the cars are in motion and have what is called kinetic energy, which is dispersed when there is a collision. The greater the amount of kinetic energy that must be dispersed, the more serious the extent of the injuries involved, including even death.

Due to the effects that rapid blunt trauma and stress have on the human body, most of the people who have been injured in an auto accident do not feel the full effects of their injuries on the day of the accident. The body will generally begin to feel worse during the days following the collision.

Some injuries, such as internal bleeding, may not become apparent until much later because the internal organs (the liver, kidney and spleen) may have been injured and may bleed into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes when there is internal bleeding, there may be visible bleeding coming from the nose, ears or rectum to signal internal bleeding, but many times it is not apparent.

Therefore, it is important to have a thorough and comprehensive examination, including diagnostic testing, by a doctor who specializes in motor vehicle accidents. This is why, even if my clients have been to the Emergency Room or to their family practitioner, I still send them to physicians who specialize in these specific types of injuries.

The most common types of injuries associated with automobile accidents are:

Sprain - Injury to the spinal cord, usually the neck and the mid-back region of the spine, which occurs when there is hyperextension or flexion to the spine. It is sometimes referred to as “whiplash” because the neck or back is thrown forwards and backwards at a rapid speed, causing the fibers of the muscles to tear. This results in pain, stiffness, tenderness, muscle spasms, decreased range of motion, radiating pain to the shoulders, pins and needles sensations to the arms and legs, and headaches.

Strain - Injury to a muscle causing the muscle fibers to tear as a result of being overstretched or pulled, which can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising around the injured muscle.

Torn Ligament - A tear or rupture of the fibrous tissues that connect bone to bone or cartilage to bone, which can misalign the bones and damage the surrounding tissues. It is usually caused by a sudden twisting motion or other abrupt force and can take a long time to heal because ligaments do not have a rich blood supply.

Fractures - A crack or break in the bone. A broken bone is a complete severing of the bone.

Dislocation - A separation of two bones where they come together at the joint so that the bone is no longer in its normal position. Dislocations occur in the major joints in the body which are the shoulders, the knees, the hip, the elbows and the ankles. They can also occur in the smaller joints of the body which are the fingers, the thumbs and the toes. A dislocation can also cause damage to nerve or ligament.

Contusions - Injury to tissue which damages the capillaries allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. These bruises are usually caused by blunt impact and although painful, are not normally dangerous. Although, some can be serious, indicative of internal bleeding and fractures.

Abrasions - Damage to the skin mostly caused by moving contact with a rough surface, which can cause mild bleeding or if the abrasions are deep, scarring may result.

Hematomas - A collection of blood in the tissues or in the organs which generally results from internal bleeding. They can gradually move in to the surrounding connective tissue. If they occur on a joint, they can reduce mobility and present similar symptoms of a fracture.

Lacerations - A tearing of skin and soft tissue caused by a blunt impact, which may sever the blood vessels and connective tissue.

Herniated Disks - Disks are located in between the vertebrae (bones) which make up your spine. They are soft in order to cushion the bones and keep them in place, and are filled with a jelly-like material (the nucleus). When a disk ruptures or tears, or slips out of place, it is herniated and part of the nucleus is pushed out of the disk and into the spinal canal. Disks can be herniated in your neck, which is called the “cervical spine” and in your back, which is called the “lumbar spine.” A herniated disk can press on a nerve, which can cause chronic pain. Some herniated disks will heal and others require surgery. The types of surgical procedures available are:

a. Laminectomy - the trimming or removal of the portion of the bone which covers the spinal nerves to widen the spinal canal and create more space for the nerve in order to relieve the pressure being placed on the nerve;

b. Discectomy - the removal of a segment of the damaged disc that is applying pressure on the spinal cord or nerve;

c. Spinal Fusion - the fusion of two or more of the vertebrae using bone grafts or a metal rod or plate to join the segments together. Over time, the segments will heal in to one single bone, thereby preventing motion between the affected vertebrae and stabilizing the spine. This surgical procedure is the most invasive of the three and is used when the other procedures are not viable options.

Head Injuries - Trauma (physical injury) to the head, such as the scalp and skull and may include injury to the brain. There are 5 types of head injuries:

a. Concussions - mild traumatic brain injuries which can cause a person to lose consciousness for up to 30 minutes, and causes confusion, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, visual problems, headaches, difficulty concentrating and loss of memory;

b. Epidural Hematomas (EDH) - is a rapidly accumulating hematoma between the Cranium (the skull which encloses and protects the brain) and the Dura Mater (the tough outermost layer surrounding the brain and the spinal cord) which can cause a loss of consciousness, followed by a lucid period, then followed by loss of consciousness. These injuries are dangerous as there is the potential of death unless the injury is recognized and quickly treated;

c. Subdural Hematomas - involve a tearing of the vein between the cerebral cortex and a draining venous sinus, resulting in a hemorrhage compressing the brain, which can cause loss of consciousness, however, there is usually recovery with no relapse. These injuries are dangerous as there is the potential of death unless there is timely surgery of the hemorrhage compressing the brain;

d. Cerebral Contusions - bruising of the brain tissue which can cause cerebral edema (swelling from increased tissue fluid) and transtentorial herniation (an upward or downward displacement of the brain) and therefore, causes increased pressure in the cranium; and

e. Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) - the most common brain injury which damages a widespread area of the brain, usually due to severe head trauma, and can result in a coma.

Neck injuries - Trauma to the neck can cause:

1. cervical fractures and dislocations from hyperextension of the head on the neck from being thrown forwards and backwards during a motor vehicle accident;

2. acute cervical sprains or strains;

3. Intervertebral disk injuries - injury to the disks which are located in between the vertebrae (bones) which make up the cervical spine. The disks are soft in order to cushion the bones and to keep them in place, and they are filled with a jelly-like material (the nucleus). When a disk ruptures, tears, or slips out of place, it is herniated, and part of the nucleus is pushed out of the disk and into the spinal canal. A herniated disk can press on a nerve, which can cause chronic pain. Some herniated disks will heal and others require surgery. The types of surgical procedures available are:

a. Laminectomy - the trimming or removal of the portion of the bone which covers the spinal nerves to widen the spinal canal and create more space for the nerve in order to relieve the pressure being placed on the nerve;

 b. Discectomy - the removal of a segment of the damaged disc that is applying pressure on the spinal cord or nerve;

c. Spinal Fusion - the fusion of two or more of the vertebrae using bone grafts or a metal rod or plate to join the segments together. Over time, the segments will heal in to one single bone, thereby preventing motion between the affected vertebrae and stabilizing the spine. This surgical procedure is the most invasive of the three and is used when the other procedures are not viable options.

Back Injuries - Trauma to the back can result in:

1. sprains;

2. strains;

3. spinal fractures, which can be minor such as compression fractures where a vertebra is crushed only in the front part of the spine, or can be more severe, such as burst fractures where the vertebra is crushed in all directions and can damage the spinal cord, or fracture-dislocations; and

4. vertebral disc injury, which is injury to the disks which are located in between the vertebrae (bones) which make up the spine. The disks are soft in order to cushion the bones and to keep them in place, and they are filled with a jelly-like material (the nucleus). When a disk ruptures, tears, or slips out of place, it is herniated, and part of the nucleus is pushed out of the disk and into the spinal canal. A herniated disk can press on a nerve, which can cause chronic pain. Some herniated disks will heal and others require surgery. The types of surgical procedures available are:

a. Laminectomy - the trimming or removal of the portion of the bone which covers the spinal nerves to widen the spinal canal and create more space for the nerve in order to relieve the pressure being placed on the nerve;

b. Discectomy - the removal of a segment of the damaged disc that is applying pressure on the spinal cord or nerve;

c. Spinal Fusion - the fusion of two or more of the vertebrae using bone grafts or a metal rod or plate to join the segments together. Over time, the segments will heal in to one single bone, thereby preventing motion between the affected vertebrae and stabilizing the spine. This surgical procedure is the most invasive of the three and is used when the other procedures are not viable options.

Knee Injuries - Injuries to the knees include:

 1. Injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) located on the front of the knee, and injury to the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) located in the back of the knee, which can occur when the knees slam into the dashboard or glove compartment of a car upon impact with another vehicle;

2. Torn Meniscus - a tear in the cartilage that curves within the knee joint and causes pain and swelling;

3. Dislocated kneecap (Patellar Dislocation) - which occurs when the Patella bone covering the front of the knee is moved out of place, usually to the side, due to impact or twisting. The kneecap will freely move from side to side and causes pain, swelling and difficulty straightening the knee and walking.

Rotator Cuff Injuries - The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles and tendons that secures the arm to the shoulder joint, allowing rotation of the arm. The muscles in the shoulder can be injured from an impact causing a falling against the shoulder or a landing on an outstretched hand. A rotator cuff tear can also occur with another injury to the shoulder, such as a fracture or dislocation and can cause temporary inflammation of the muscle in minor injuries, to a partial or complete tear of the muscle in more serious injuries.

Brachial Plexus Injuries - Injury to the nerves located in the spine, the neck and the armpit, which are damaged when the nerve roots are stretched or torn from their origin.

  

   It is important to know that studies conducted by insurance companies found that accident victims recover two-and-a-half times more for their auto accident case when they are represented by a personal injury attorney.

It is also important to have a personal injury lawyer because the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not have a duty to explain your legal rights to you or to protect those rights. In many cases, they do not even understand your legal rights. They are in the business of protecting their insured and maximizing their profits by paying as little as possible on personal injury claims. Often just the threat of going to trial and winning against the insurance company can increase the value of your case.

I recover for my clients each and every category of damages that applies to these types of cases to make sure that my clients sustain no losses, are fully protected and are made completely whole again after an accident.

For more information about your car accident case and what you need to do right now, call me directly at: 410-575-3255 and I will discuss, review and evaluate your case with you at no charge. You may also contact me by completing the Contact box on the left side of this page, or by email. You can also protect your case right now by reading my advice in my Free Car Accident Fact Book.

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alex miller - maryland personal injury lawyer
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