A car accident is a very stressful event, the short- and long-term physical effects of a car accident can be debilitating.
There are a variety of physical effects of a car accident, such as injuries you may have sustained during your collision. Depending on the severity of the car accident, you may have been lucky enough to walk away with a bruise or scratch or, you may have been taken to the hospital for broken bones, deep cuts, or head trauma.
The most common injuries include:
- Neck injuries
- Brain trauma
- Back or spine injuries
- Whiplash happens when the head is "whipped" forward and back or side to side at the time of impact. Whiplash is the term we use to describe the strain on ligaments and muscles in the neck from being stretched past their usual range of motion. It doesn't necessarily accompany a serious neck injury or concussion, but it can, so your doctor will probably run an X-ray or CT scan to be sure. Even if you were able to walk away from your collision, you could have whiplash though it may not have manifest for a day or so. If you have or have had it, it makes life uncomfortable until the swelling goes down and the muscles and ligaments repair themselves.
- Herniated Discs are the more severe form of common neck injuries, that could be misdiagnosed as whiplash without proper imaging like an MRI or a CT scan. Herniated discs are much more painful and debilitating than whiplash and can be identified by the shooting pains through your neck and shoulder and even down into your extremities. These pains can be very pronounced when a specific movement irritates spinal nerves. It can cause pain and numbness and needs to be checked out and treated before the inflammation deteriorates into serious damage.
Brain or Head Trauma:
- Concussions are common brain injuries for everything from kids contact sports to major car accidents. A concussion is the bruising and sometimes swelling of the brain after being smashed against the inside of your skull. Even if you have a helmet on, you won't be able to protect your brain from your head if the impact is hard enough. Symptoms include pupil dilation, nausea, vertigo, even loss of consciousness and memory loss. Like whiplash, the symptoms may not appear immediately, but you should be checked out immediately after your accident to be sure you do or do not have a concussion.
- A Hematoma is the more serious possibility that shares symptoms with a concussion. It can't be seen from the outside of your skull, but where a concussion is bruising on the brain, a hematoma is bleeding and clotting of blood in the brain. This must be spotted and treated immediately. If left untreated, a hematoma can result in permanent brain damage.
Back or Spine Injuries:
- Spinal fractures are common back (thoracic & lumbar spine) injuries that can happen in a car accident. Because of the way seats and seatbelts hold us while we are in the car (tight at the waist and hips, looser at the chest) our upper bodies are able to fly forward and be slammed back either by the airbag or the car rebounding from the collision. Spinal fractures cause moderate to severe pain and discomfort and it will be painful immediately. Symptoms may include numbness and tingling, weakness, and even loss of bladder control.
- Disc herniation can happen when your back is jarred in an accident and one of your vertebrae cracks and the soft internal tissue starts to be pushed out through the fracture. As with herniated discs in the neck, this can irritate your nearby spinal nerves causing numbness and shooting pains down your legs as the nerves in your back misfire.
An important component in recovering from an auto accident is determining the extent of your injuries and your pain and suffering. Several injuries are associated with long-term, permanent effects such as amputations, paralysis, or diminished mental capacity.
If you have suffered injuries or loss of physical or mental capacity due to a car accident, it is important to discuss the circumstances with a professional and experienced auto accident attorney who can protect your legal rights.