Millions of Americans are involved in car accidents every year, with outcomes ranging from passengers who walk away totally unscathed to deadly collisions that require the full complement of emergency services. Most, however, are somewhere in between, resulting in a range of injuries. Overall, outcomes are unpredictable, but certain injuries do predominate.
If you are one of the more than 2.5 million Americans who visit the ER each year after a car accident, you’ll most likely be treated for one of these 4 injuries. Though some are harder to diagnose, or to fully evaluate, immediately after the accident, the ER will likely be your first point of contact for care.
Broken bones are among the most immediately evident and easiest to diagnose car accident injuries, but like most other injuries, they can range widely in severity. Someone with a closed forearm fracture will have a much different prognosis than someone with a compound femur fracture or shattered pelvis.
Certain bones are more likely to be broken in the course of a car accident than others. In rear-impact accidents, spinal vertebrae are vulnerable, potentially leading to permanent injury and requiring surgery. The thin, delicate clavicle is also prone to fracture, as are the facial bones, typically from airbag impact.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have gotten a lot of press in recent years, both among professional athletes and former soldiers, but they’re not the only populations prone to such injuries. In fact, the legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers see many clients whose auto accident injuries include TBIs, which can lead to long-term functional issues.
Often presenting with symptoms like dizziness, nausea, double-vision, and tinnitus, in the hours or days after a car accident, many TBI victims are diagnosed with concussions and may be monitored for neurological issues. The full extent of TBI symptoms are rarely evident until weeks or months after the initial accident, or even after an extensive course of rehabilitation.
After a car accident, it’s not uncommon for shocked drivers to walk away from the scene insisting they feel fine, only to later succumb to internal injuries. This can be a serious problem because these individuals may delay care until the situation is critical, or even deadly. Even if you think you’re fine after an accident, it’s important to be checked for internal bleeding to ensure there are no hidden injuries lurking beneath the skin.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unlike physical injuries, the psychological damage caused by a serious car accident can be hard to detect, especially in the short-term. In part, that’s because some degree of anxiety is normal in the days and weeks after an accident; you’ve been hurt in the course of an everyday activity, and you’re confronted with it over and over again. Over time, though, that anxiety should diminish, but for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), symptoms may worsen, manifesting as nightmares, moodiness, weight fluctuations, and fatigue, among other symptoms. Medication and counseling can both help those experiencing such symptoms, though they may never fully dissipate.
It’s always a good idea to get comprehensive medical care immediately after a car accident, even if you think you’re okay, because any delay can lead to insurance or legal issues down the line. The best possible outcome is that you’re fine – perhaps a bit banged up – but that initial intervention could also be lifesaving. You have to trust the process because it’s the first step towards healing.