Nobody wants to be in a car accident. But sometimes, we detach ourselves from the idea of car accidents because these traumatic events are unpleasant to think about. In reality, recognizing the possible effects and damages of a car accident can help you adequately prepare to avoid accidents – and recover faster if you’re ever involved in one.
What are the most common car accident injuries you should know about, and what should you do if you’re ever involved in an accident that leaves you injured?
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Car Accident
If you’re injured in a car accident, these are the most important steps you should follow immediately.
- Get medical attention. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s important to get medical attention. Depending on the circumstances, it may make sense to contact emergency services after the accident. Otherwise, try to get an appointment with your doctor in the next few days.
- Follow all medical advice. Follow any and all medical advice you receive from professionals. Some people are reluctant to follow treatment instructions because they don’t want to spend the extra money or because they feel their injuries will heal naturally; this is a mistake. The person responsible for the accident will likely be responsible for compensating you for any of your medical costs.
- Document everything. To maximize your chances of appropriate compensation, it’s important to document everything, including the state of your injuries after the accident. Your medical professionals can help you document these injuries, but it’s also helpful to take photos and videos, as well as write in a journal about how your symptoms change.
- Work with a personal injury lawyer. It’s also important to work with a car accident lawyer, starting as early as possible after the accident. Your lawyer will help you better understand your injuries, provide you with advice for how to navigate this case, and will ultimately allow you to negotiate for a higher settlement.
The Most Common Car Accident Injuries
These are some of the most common car accident injuries we see:
- Bruising. Even if you’re in a minor accident, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some bruising. Being held back by a tight seat belt, being hit with an airbag, and bumping against various internal components of the car can cause significant bruising. These bruises may persist for several days or even several weeks.
- Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a person experiences a forceful and fast back-and-forth movement in the neck. It’s most commonly associated with pain in the neck and shoulders, but it can also have more serious symptoms.
- Neck and spine injuries. Neck and spine injuries are among the most serious, as severe injuries and improper treatment can lead to paralysis and other forms of permanent damage. If you suspect a person in your vehicle has a neck or spine injury, do not attempt to move them on your own.
- Wrist and hand injuries. Whether you’re gripping the steering wheel or hanging your arm outside of the vehicle, you’re going to be susceptible to wrist and hand injuries during an accident. Fortunately, most of these injuries are minor and heal on their own.
- Leg and foot injuries. Leg and foot injuries are also common. To avoid the worst injuries in this category, keep your legs and feet planted on the ground when traveling in a vehicle.
- Concussions. Concussions range from mild to severe in nature, but even mild concussions can have lasting effects – especially if you have multiple concussions throughout your life. If you suspect you have a concussion, it’s important to get treatment right away and avoid falling asleep before you get it.
- Burns. High temperatures and flames can leave you with burns in extreme car crashes. In a burning vehicle, it’s important to get out immediately (and help others get out if you can).
- Internal bleeding. In more violent car accidents, drivers and passengers have an increased chance of dealing with internal bleeding. Small and temporary levels of internal bleeding may be well tolerated, but significant internal bleeding can put your life in jeopardy without you realizing it’s even occurring. This is one reason why it’s important to get medical attention, even if you feel you don’t need it.
- Broken bones. Broken bones are some of the most visually gruesome car accident injuries, but fortunately, they’re also some of the easiest and most straightforward to treat. Almost any bone in your body can be broken in the violent conditions of a car accident, but the most common tend to be in the limbs and head/face.
- Post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress is an “invisible” injury, but one that can leave you with debilitating symptoms – and sometimes, symptoms can follow you for the rest of your life. If you suffer from PTSD, you might experience heightened levels of anxiety in and around vehicles, and you might be forced to deal with panic attacks in stressful situations, or even in everyday situations.
If you’re ever involved in a car accident where you don’t experience injury, count your blessings. Every year, tens of thousands of people in the United States die in car accidents, and hundreds of thousands more are injured. And if you do find yourself injured in a car accident, get medical attention and contact a lawyer as soon as you can.