Each day, millions of Americans get behind the wheel of a car and drive. Millions more ride along as passengers. With so many people on the road, it's no surprise that car accidents occur daily. While most of these accidents are minor collisions, others are more serious and result in significant personal injury and property damage.
Even if you haven't already been in an auto accident, there is a reasonable chance it will happen to you one day. This article provides information on one of the most common types of injury resulting from car crashes: soft tissue injuries. Whiplash is the most common soft tissue damage, with others including bruises, sprains, and strains.
What are Soft Tissue Injuries?
Any injuries to the body's "soft" areas (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) are classified as soft tissue injuries. Typical examples of soft tissue injuries suffered by accident victims include:
- Sprains: Damage to a ligament due to the overextension of a joint
- Contusions: Discoloration and bruises
- Strains: Overuse of a muscle or tendon
Soft tissue injuries can cause great pain and discomfort in the form of soreness, swelling, bruising, and stiffness. These types of injuries are common in vehicle accidents because of the impact of the collisions between vehicles and the force it puts on the occupants. Depending on how severe the crash is, the force exerted during an accident can cause vehicle occupants to be thrashed around or violently jolted.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Car Accidents: Whiplash
Of all the types of soft tissue injuries caused by car accidents, whiplash is one of the most serious. The proper medical terms for whiplash are either cervical strain/sprain or hyperextension injury.
Whiplash occurs when the impact from a rear-end collision forces your head and neck to move back and forth violently. Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Cognitive issues, such as problems with memory and concentration
These symptoms can occur immediately after the accident, but they commonly emerge over the course of several hours or days after the crash.
Whiplash may initially seem minor, especially if symptoms are slow to appear. However, neck trauma causes severe and significant injury. If left untreated, a victim can develop chronic pain and discomfort in that region. Anyone suffering from whiplash should seek medical attention, even if their injuries initially appear minor.
Treatment for soft tissue injuries may include immobilization, wearing a neck brace, physical therapy, or pain medications. After any injury accident, consult with your doctor for medical treatment options related to your injuries.
Medical Attention for Soft Tissue Injuries
As discussed above, soft tissue injuries from car accidents may not be apparent initially, making it difficult to identify them. Many soft tissue injuries do not appear in X-rays. Injury victims may need more specialized imaging tests, such as MRIs or CT scans. Professional medical attention is critical for diagnosing and treating any neck injuries and neck pain.
Medical records are an important part of a car accident injury claim. If you're involved in litigation, medical records may be introduced as evidence of the existence of an injury and the extent of the damages suffered.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Fault in a Car Accident
In motor vehicle accidents, liability for the damage is based on who was at fault for the accident. Determination of fault has significant implications that range from automobile insurance rates to compensation from insurance companies. Police reports and traffic laws can be important in proving liability.
Police may not show up to every crash. Even after a call to the police department, law enforcement may only show up if there is a serious injury or there is a disabled vehicle blocking traffic. If police respond and do an investigation, they'll write up a report which may include which party the officer believes to be at fault. The police investigation reports are considered official records and are often relied upon by insurance companies and juries.
Violation of traffic laws may also help determine who is at fault. Violating a traffic law that was a cause of the accident can show the other driver was negligent. For example, if a driver was supposed to yield to oncoming traffic but failed to do so, evidence of this violation would be significant in showing who was negligent.
What Role Does the Bursa Play in Soft Tissue Injuries?
A bursa serves as a cushion between bones, tendons, and muscles. When it becomes inflamed due to injury it can cause pain and restrict movement, resulting in bursitis.
What Are Connective Tissues and How Can They Be Damaged in a Car Accident?
Connective tissues include ligaments, tendons, and other tissues that connect muscles, bones, and organs. They can be damaged in a car accident due to the impact and sudden movement, leading to sprains, strains, and other injuries.
Can Car Accidents Cause Broken Bones?
Yes, car accidents can cause a range of injuries that includes broken bones. While this article focuses on soft tissue injuries, fractures are also common, especially in severe crashes.
Can Car Accidents Cause Back Pain?
Yes, car accidents can cause back pain, often due to whiplash or other soft tissue injuries. Medical attention should be sought to assess and treat this pain, as it will often play a large role in your personal injury damages award.
How Do Insurance Adjusters Evaluate Car Accident Claims?
Insurance adjusters evaluate claims by reviewing the details of the accident, including police reports, photos, witness statements, and medical reports. They assess the severity of injuries and vehicle damage and determine liability based on these findings.
What Kind of Medical Care May Be Necessary Following a Car Accident?
Medical care following a car accident can range from emergency care to ongoing physical therapy. It may include imaging scans, surgery, medication, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, and mental health support.
How Can a Car Accident Affect My Range of Motion?
A car accident can cause injuries, such as whiplash or strains, which may temporarily or permanently limit your range of motion. Physical therapy is often required to regain flexibility and strength.
What Is the Average Settlement for Soft Tissue Injury Claims?
Settlements for soft tissue injury claims can vary widely due to:
- The severity of the injury;
- The impact on your quality of life; and
- The specifics of your insurance policy.
An attorney can provide a more accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances.
How Do I File an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident?
To file an insurance claim, you must contact your insurance company immediately after the accident. They will guide you through the process. This will typically involve providing information about the accident and your injuries.
Why Is It Important To Consult a Medical Professional After a Car Accident?
You need to consult a medical professional after a car accident. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, especially soft tissue injuries. A medical professional can perform a thorough examination and provide any necessary treatment. This can be critical for recovery and any potential personal injury claim. It also gives you evidence in the form of medical bills and any other medical expenses.
Soft Tissue Injury From a Car Accident? Get Legal Advice From a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have suffered whiplash injuries or other soft tissue injuries after being in a car accident, the damage may not be immediately apparent. A doctor can help car accident victims with medical injuries. To recover compensation, a personal injury lawyer can tell you whether someone was negligent or reckless in causing harm. They will tell you whether you might be able to collect damages to cover your losses.
Get started on your car accident case today. Contact an experienced car accident attorney near you. Many will offer a free case consultation.
Remember, there is a statute of limitations on car accident claims. Speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to preserve the right to recover for any injuries you may have suffered.