Car Accident Injuries
Injuries to Drivers and Passengers in Accidents That Sometimes Get Ignored
At the scene of an accident, drivers and passengers may not feel or demonstrate that they are hurt or damaged: they may be more worried about how much it will cost in time and money to fix their cars than about any injuries to themselves. Usually, this is because they don’t feel any pain at the time and there is no obvious hurt, like blood or broken bones or bruising. This doesn’t mean they aren’t injured.
Alan’s Tip: In any collision between vehicles with any amount of force, it’s prudent to go to a physician as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of pain or discomfort that you believe is related to the accident. Under the 2012 PIP Reforms, you have a 14 Day Deadline to seek treatment by certain medical care providers to qualify for PIP benefits.
Common injures resulting from car accidents include:
Whiplash – Neck Muscle and Ligament Injuries
Your neck is vulnerable to sudden movements, and there are all sorts of situations where an unexpected, unprotected, and forceful movement of the neck, either backward or forward, can result in damage to both muscles within the neck as well as ligaments and nerves. Car crashes, particularly situations where the accident victim is a driver or passenger in a vehicle that is rear-ended, are notorious for causing whiplash injuries.
So much so, in fact, that there are periodic news stories of criminal schemes where con artists slam into unsuspecting vehicles and then attempt to claim whiplash injuries in a quick fraud settlement claim. The Florida “no fault” insurance laws have been targets for fraud.
In fact, Florida became so notorious for staged accidents that Florida insurance law was reformed in 2012 to deal with the high amount of insurance fraud; accordingly, legitimate claims for whiplash and other soft tissue injuries may be unjustly questioned by insurance carriers. (For more on Florida insurance on accident claims, see our Car Accident FAQ page.)
Read our Articles About Car Accident Compensation (From Our Injury and Accident Blog)
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is the common name for any injury to the human neck resulting from the neck moving as if it has been snapped, or lashed, like a whip. It’s a fast and forceful movement of the neck that causes harm to neck muscles and ligaments as they are pushed and stretched beyond their normal range of motion.
Whiplash injuries can be minor: some soreness, a few uncomfortable days (and nights) as muscles heal, but nothing serious or life-altering. These are the lucky injury victims, where health care providers treat the whiplash patient with over-the-counter pain relievers and a time of rest, with ice packs placed on the sore neck muscles.
Some whiplash injuries, however, can be severe neck injuries that have serious consequences. Serious whiplash victims can have their lives changed forever from their accident: their neck pain can be chronic and incapacitating, and they may be in treatment for a long period of time that will include physical therapy, prescription pain medications, and loss of quality of life.
Concussions – The Brain is Shaken Inside the Skull From the Force of the Crash
Concussions are injuries to the brain that may not be obvious to either the person suffering from the concussion or those around them for a long while after the concussion has happened. Concussions are caused by a forceful blow to the head that literally shakes the brain inside the victim’s skull.
What is a concussion?
Accident victims who suffer a concussion may not pass out or act strange at the time of the crash. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t hurt and in need of medical care. Other victims of concussion may appear dizzy or disoriented or even faint at the accident scene, and this is a sign that they need immediate medical attention.
Concussions are traumatic injuries to the brain; however, they can be minor and with bed rest and health care treatment, the concussion victims can fully recover without any permanent injury to their brain function.
Concussions, however, can sometimes be serious brain injuries that will need surgery or long-term health care. Some concussions from car accidents can result in permanent or very long term problems with speech or walking or the ability to remember or learn. In other words, some concussion injuries in car crashes can mean permanent brain damage.
Breaks – Broken Bones in an Accident
For physicians and accident attorneys, broken bones are called “fractures.” Fractures happen when a force is exerted on a bone in the body that is stronger than the bone. All sorts of accidents can create this kind of force and break bones in the human body: car crashes and other kinds of traffic accidents often result in multiple fractures of the accident victim. Medical malpractice and nursing home abuse can also be the cause of fractures.
There are different kinds of broken bones or fractures including:
- Complete fracture: bone fragments separate completely
- Incomplete fracture: bone fragments are still partially joined
- Comminuted fracture: bone has broken into a number of pieces
- Impacted fracture: bone fragments are driven into each other
The most serious fractures involve the human back or spine, resulting in a spinal cord injury or to the human skull (skull fracture) resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These fractures are extremely serious and can result in permanent life altering injuries and even death.
Common accident fractures include:
- Hip fracture
- Broken toe
- Broken arm
- Broken wrist/hand
- Broken leg
- Broken ankle/foot
Serious, Life Altering Permanent Injuries to Drivers and Passengers from Crashes
Some accidents cause injuries that are immediately apparent because the victims are obviously hurt and in need of emergency care. Serious and severe injuries in crashes usually involve harm to the brain and/or the spinal cord. The most severe injury from a car accident, of course, is the wrongful death of the accident victim.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are serious injuries that can permanently injure and sometimes kill the person who has suffered a head injury. Many accident victims suffer from hits to their head which result in traumatic brain injuries. Motorcycle wrecks and accidents involving bicycles often involve traumatic brain injuries, particularly when the motorcyclist or bicycle rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
“TBIs” can be open or closed. Open TBIs occur when the skull has been fractured: there is actual opening in the skull. Closed TBIs are not head fractures, but they can be even more serious because of hidden dangers, like blood clots silently growing beneath the skin.
Traumatic brain injuries can result in wrongful death all too often. TBIs can also cause permanent life-altering injuries including loss of brain activity and bodily functions.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries occur when there is severe damage to the neck or back during a crash or accident that results in harm to the victim’s spinal cord. The spinal cord itself is made of a mass of nerves that coordinate the brain’s instructions to the rest of the body: it is the human body’s communication system. Impairment or injury to the spinal cord means a loss of movement and possible loss of use of arms, legs, hands, bladder, sexual organs, feet, as well as the ability to chew or digest food and water.
Spinal cord injuries all too often result in paralysis of either legs or arms and legs either for an extended time period or permanently. Spinal cord injuries are very common in wrecks where the two vehicles involved in the crash are very different in size and weight, such as:
Big rig trucks and any other motor vehicle
SUV and sedans, motorcycles, bicycles
Cars and motorcycles, bicycles
Buses and SUVs, cars, pickups, motorcycles, bikes
Trains and any other motor vehicle
Wrongful Death – When Your Loved One Dies in a Fatal Accident on a Florida Roadway
Special state laws have been passed by the Florida Legislature to provide financial remedies to the heirs of a person who died because of the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, neglect, omission, or default of another. Many wrongful death cases are brought because of car accidents, big rig semi-truck wrecks, motorcycle crashes and the like. Many are filed in civil court as criminal actions based upon violations of drunk driving laws proceed in the criminal justice system.
Those that can claim wrongful death damages are defined by law, not everyone who is a family member can file a wrongful death action based upon an accident fatality. Damages are also defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. Wrongful death damages may include economic damages (projected lifetime income) and non-economic loss (e.g., the enjoyment of living), and medical and funeral expenses.
Quick Florida Car Accident Facts:
According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, for example, in 2009 statewide there were 20,085 alcohol related traffic accidents resulting in 1,004 deaths and 14,130 injuries. Additionally, damages from auto crashes total $150 billion annually because compensation for a car accident, in most cases, includes recovery of medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and lost earning potential, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium and emotional distress. Learn more from Alan Sackrin, an expert car accident lawyer.
Want to Know More?
Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented clients throughout Florida in recovering monetary damages for car accident injuries. Alan is a Board Certified Civil Trial Expert that strives to maximize the amount of compensation his clients’ receive for their claim. Alan brings a high-level of skill and knowledge to his client’s car accident cases and he offers a free initial consultation.
See: Sample Case Verdicts and Settlements
Related Car Accident Topics
- 8 important steps you should take at the time of an accident
- Car Accident FAQ
- Car Accident Insurance Claims and Coverage (PIP and Bodily Injury Coverage)
- Car Accident Damages
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