Vehicle accidents are never pleasant and never welcome. They cost us our cars, our health, our insurance, our driving record, and in the most serious cases, our lives or those of loved ones.
Vehicle accidents also are insidious: they usually turn out to be much more serious than anticipated. That little dent costs hundreds of dollars to repair. That bashed-in grill might mean your car is totaled. And that nagging neck pain? That might be far more serious than you think.
In the immediate hours and days after a vehicle accident, our adrenaline kicks in and can mask serious health issues that result from our injuries. We might feel “okay” and try to convince ourselves that we are “fine” and can carry on bravely, but many times we eventually have to admit that our shoulder might be separated, our wrist might indeed be broken, our lower back might have a disc out of place.
If you haven’t been to a doctor or hospital lately, you might be shocked at the cost of medical care now. X-rays and other diagnostic tests that you might need will quickly raise your bill into five figures. Once you’ve been diagnosed, rehabilitation and therapy are quite costly as well, and you might need to be in rehab far longer than you guessed. Casts and splints and slings and wheelchairs are also more expensive than you probably realize.
The bottom line? Getting into a vehicle accident will probably cost you far more than you anticipate, which is exactly why you should contact a car accident lawyer immediately. Let a true professional assemble a case for you so that you receive the compensation that you need and deserve. A car accident attorney will draw on years of experience to estimate what you will need to completely recover, making calculations on the high end, not the low end, as you (and insurance companies) have a tendency to do.
What kind of injuries are common in vehicle accidents, and how are they treated? Here is a handy guide:
- Cuts and lacerations: these result from the many pieces of debris that get thrown around in a vehicle accident. Broken glass, torn sheet metal and even objects flying inside the vehicle can pierce the skin. Some of these cuts are not too serious, but many can cause substantial blood loss and require surgery to repair. You also might have scars from these cuts, which you can elect to have surgery to repair as well. Scars on the face and neck, for instance, are not usually desirable.
- Broken bones: the most frequent areas for broken bones are wrists, arms, ankles, legs and ribs. These have varying levels of difficulty to treat. A simple wrist break, for instance, requires a cast with some physical therapy after to regain your full range of motion. A broken rib, however, will often necessitate a long period of minimal activity. Shattered legs might require extensive surgery with plates and screws to ensure that bones fuse together properly. The physical therapy following that sort of break can take quite a long time. Broken bones that pierce the skin are known as compound fractures, and they might require the services of an orthopedic specialist.
- Spine, back and neck injuries: these are common and troublesome. Whiplash frequently results from car accidents as a sudden jolt rocks the body in an unnatural motion. Whiplash strains ligaments, muscles and tendons, causing what is called a soft tissue injury. There is nothing “soft” about the severity of these injuries, however. If the spine is affected, you can have severe pain, loss of movement and sensation, even temporary or permanent paralysis. Some of these injuries do heal with time and rest; others require complicated surgeries that can be very dangerous.
- Internal injuries: these result from your body crashing into an immovable object, such as the steering wheel or even an air bag, or being hit by debris within the car—a briefcase, another body, etc. In the case of accidents involving vehicles that are hauling something, such as a rear-end crash into a flatbed truck, materials from the truck can come through the windshield and strike your body as well. Any internal injury can cause significant internal bleeding, which often necessitates surgical intervention.
- Concussion and Traumatic Brian Injury (TBI): this can be a very, very deceptive injury. You might not believe that a seemingly minor crash could cause a concussion, but they are far more frequent than you might realize. Whiplash can cause concussive symptoms, and if your head strikes anything, even an air bag, you can have a concussion. All of us are built differently and there is no common standard for when a concussion results. If you do have a concussion, it means that your brain has swollen. If that is severe, you could have a permanent injury. You often do not feel this pain or any effects after an accident, but if you have struck your head, you should tell the paramedics immediately and they will treat you appropriately. Some concussions can heal after long periods of rest and low activity, as headaches and dizziness subside. TBI could require surgical intervention, obviously, that may or may not be able to reverse the effects of the accident.
This list is not meant to scare you, but it is intended to alert you to the seriousness of your injuries as a result of a vehicle accident. Treatment of these injuries often entails more cost and time than you think, so don’t assume that you will be able to go back to work the next day, for instance, and never miss a day after.
Rather, plan for diagnostic tests, physical therapy and missed work days for even what you consider to be minor injuries.
Who is going to pay for all of this medical care? You need a competent personal injury lawyer by your side to help you get the funds you need to recover fully without financial worry.