Car Crashes are one of the leading causes of injuries for all age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans spend more than a million days per year in the hospital due to crash injuries, and in 2012 alone, crash injuries resulted in an estimated lifetime cost of $18 billion.
In San Antonio alone, the Texas Department of Transportation estimates that 43,951 crashes took place during a recent year, with as many as 15,545 persons injured as a result. The DOT considers 954 of those injuries serious; 143 died as a result of vehicle accidents.
Car accident injuries vary greatly, depending on the type and severity of the accident. However, some injuries are more common than others. Here are a few of the injuries we see the most of from San Antonio car accidents.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries are a common result of a car accident and they can be among the most serious, as well, due to the chance of permanent paralysis. Some back and neck injuries include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash occurs when the neck is moved violently in a forward and backward motion, which may also cause damage to the discs in the neck or even the spinal cord. It often presents with pain, weakness, numbness or tingling down one arm, dizziness, stiffness, and sleeplessness. Symptoms may not appear for up to two days after a car accident.
- Disc injuries – The spinal column has shock absorbing cushions located between the bones, known as discs. Injuries to these discs occur when the tough, outer fibers of the discs tear, which can lead to a herniation. A herniated disc occurs when the soft substance contained inside of the disc escapes. Symptoms of disc injuries may include weakness, numbness, and a burning or other electrical sensation down one arm.
- Cervical dislocation – When one of the bones in the neck moves out of place, it causes spinal instability and can even result in a break in the bone. This is called a cervical dislocation. Treatment for cervical dislocations depends on severity. They can either go away on their own, require the use of a soft collar, or even require surgery.
- Spinal cord injury – Spinal cord injuries are caused when fractures or dislocations are severe enough to damage the spinal cord. Depending on how high up on the spine the injury is located, victims may die, need a respirator to survive, or suffer paralysis in the body below the injury. Spinal cord injuries frequently result in lifelong injuries that require constant care.
Traumatic brain injuries are the cause of about 30 percent of all injury deaths and car accidents are the third-most common cause of them, the CDC notes. 14 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by car accidents. TBIs can mean recovery within a few days or they can result in a lifetime of round-the-clock care. In 2013, nearly 50,000 people died due to a brain injury, and about 2.8 more visited hospital emergency departments. Some symptoms of a concussive traumatic brain injury include:
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Balance problems
- Irritability or other mood changes
- Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
- Inability to wake up from sleep
Concussions are not the only type of brain injury. Others include a contusion, which is bleeding on the brain; coup-contrecoup, which is contusions on both sides of the brain due to a force strong enough to cause a contusion on one side of the brain and also cause the other side of the brain to slam into the skull, creating an additional contusion; and diffuse-axonal injuries, which are caused by a strong rotation of the head, often caused by the force of a car accident.
While fires are not a common occurrence in car accidents, burns are. In addition to fire, burns can be caused during a car accident when an individual comes in contact with heated surfaces, including hot metal, or steam from a damaged radiator. Burns can also be caused by coming in contact with chemicals, including toxic substances such as those carried by some commercial trucks. Burns are classified by degrees:
- First degree burns – Affect only the outer layer of skin. May cause redness, but no blistering. Do not require medical treatment.
- Second degree burns – Involve not only the outer layer of skin, but the layer beneath it, as well. The surface of a second degree burn appears red and blistered. May require medical treatment.
- Third degree burns – Destroy the outer layer of skin and the skin beneath it. Third degree burns may also cause damage to muscles, tendons, and bones. Require medical attention and may lead to permanent nerve damage and disfigurement.
Severe burns may result in surgeries, and carry a risk of infection and even death.
Sudden impact or twisting, frequently experienced in car accidents, can cause bones to break. Bones that are frequently broken in car crashes include the bones in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Front seat passengers are also at risk of rib and chest (sternum) fractures. Broken legs and ankles are particularly common in crashes involving pedestrians, as well as motorcycle crashes. Facial and dental fractures are often seen in bicycle accidents. Other broken bones that can be experienced in car accidents include:
- Hip fractures
- Pelvis fractures
- Broken wrists
- Broken clavicle (collar bone)
Broken bones generally don’t result in death, but they may result in a lengthy recovery time, physical therapy, and chronic pain.
Being in a car accident can cause significant emotional distress. Emotional distress is a form of pain and suffering and may result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some common symptoms of emotional distress include:
- Sleep disturbances, including nightmares
- Moodiness or irritability
- Social withdrawal
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Chronic fatigue
Emotional distress can be as a result of severe physical injuries, a low chance of recovery from injuries experienced in the accident, fear of death, or witnessing the death or significant injury of others involved in the accident. The loved ones of a victim killed in a car accident may also suffer emotional distress due to the untimely death. Emotional distress is considered a non-economic damage in personal injury cases.
If You Were Injured in a Car Accident, Call The Law Offices of George Salinas
If someone else’s negligence resulted in a car accident that hurt you or a loved one, or if you need more information, please call The Law Offices of George Salinas. You can reach us by calling (210) 225-0909 or by using our online contact form.
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