Many different kinds of injuries can result from car accidents. The circumstances and severity of the crash influence how serious the injuries are and what parts of the body are affected. An analysis of car accident reports and personal injury claims show that some types of injuries are more common than others though.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Scrapes and Cuts
Bruises and lacerations may be mild to severe. Broken glass from car crashes often cause cuts to the face, but the impact of a crash can send glass flying anywhere. Glass may even become imbedded in the soft tissues of the face or other parts of the body. Pictures of visible injuries are an essential part of a well-documented personal injury claim.
Drivers and passengers are jostled around in even the most minor car accidents. In bad crashes, they may be thrown about very hard. The force of impact can cause all kinds of soft tissue injuries. Muscle strains, ligament and tendon tears, and other tissue injuries are often difficult to see by can be documented through physical exam notes and diagnostic tests.
Head, Neck, and Face Injuries
Seat belts secure drivers and passengers in car accidents, but nothing can keep the head, neck, or face from injury in many crashes.
- Head injuries range from minor cuts and scrapes to concussions to severe brain injuries. Some head injuries may be obvious immediately after an accident. Others may take time to present with symptoms. Doctors often do imaging scans with a head injury. These scans can show bruising, bleeding, or swelling in the brain, even when injuries are not otherwise visible.
- Neck injuries of varying severity levels commonly occur in car accidents. Minor accidents may cause whiplash or muscle strains in the neck. More serious car crashes may cause major neck injuries, including damage to the vertebrae or spinal cord. A physical exam and imaging scans can be crucial in evaluating and documenting neck injuries.
- Face injuries experienced in car crashes range from mild to severe. Bruises, cuts, and scrapes are the most common minor injuries. The force of impact can lead to ongoing problems from dental, jaw, and eye injuries. Broken bones in the face or damage to the jaw joints can result from car accidents as well. A doctor at the emergency room can diagnose many of these injuries, but serious damage to the face, eyes, teeth, or jaws may require ongoing care. Be sure to document all the medical follow-up appointments for a personal injury claim.
Back and Chest Injuries
Although seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being thrown from cars or tossed around inside of vehicles during car crashes, they don’t stop all injuries.
- Chest injuries can result from the strain of the body as it is held in place by a safety belt. These injuries may include bruising, muscle strains, and broken bones. Some of injuries may be visible upon physical examination and should be photographed. Others may only be documented through x-rays or other imaging tests.
- Back injuries include minor muscle strains and more serious complications, like spinal cord and disc issues. Back pain may not immediately appear. X-rays and other imaging tests may be performed at the emergency room. If muscle strains and other painful back injuries pop up in the days after an accident, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out serious injuries and to thoroughly document issues for a personal injury claim.
Not all injuries that result from a car accident are physical. Emotional and psychological trauma is also common. Some drivers and passengers find it difficult or impossible to get into a car again after a serious accident.
Emotional distress, panic attacks, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all among the psychological injuries that can result from car crashes. A primary care doctor may be able to document some psychological complications, but a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist may be needed to treat and document more severe psychological injuries.
How Long Do You Have To File A Personal Injury Claim?
The statute of limitations to file a car accident claim varies by state. If the accident occurred in Kentucky, Louisiana, or Tennessee you have one year to get your claim in. If the accident was in New Jersey or Maine, you have 6 years to make your claim. All of the other states fall in between 3-5 years as the maximum amount of time that you have to make your claim.
In addition to a personal injury claim, states have varying time limits on filing a property damage claim. This time limit will most likely be the same length or longer than your time to file an injury claim. The exception to this rule is Montana.
In general, you will be filing both injury claims and property damage claims at the same time if you are in an auto accident. Although it seems like you might have plenty of time, the period after car accidents can be a hectic one that flies by. You will have appointments with doctors, meetings with attorneys and will be taking calls from insurance companies. Before you know it, that deadline will be approaching which is why it is important to begin the process of filing your claim as soon as possible.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Even minor accidents can cause injuries and medical bills. Some injuries don’t show up for a day or two after an accident. Seeing a doctor shortly after an accident occurs is advisable. So is following up with a doctor if you begin to have pain, discomfort, or other symptoms in the days following the accident.
With a serious car accident, police will be on the scene and an accident report will be filed. Even with minor car accidents, you may want to consider calling the police to the scene so an accident report is completed. Accident reports give insurance companies:
- clear details of the accident scene,
- the circumstances of the accident,
- and any damages or injuries that are obvious at the time.
There are a number of other steps involved with preparing a strong personal injury claim after a car accident. See our article on Preserving Accident Evidence for a Personal Injury Claim for more information.