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Common Auto Accident Injuries

The most common injuries suffered in an automobile accident involve the head, face, neck, back, arms, hands, shoulders, chest, ribs, knees, hips, legs, ankles and feet. In addition to injuries arising from the impact itself, drivers and passengers can suffer injury from seatbelts, airbags that inflate at up to 200 mph, steering wheels, dashboards, broken glass, side windows, and door or frame parts.

Auto accidents generate tremendous forces. The vehicle can absorb some of the forces, but many transfer to the occupants whose bodies toss about in the passenger compartment.

Typical head and neck injuries include “whiplash” where the muscles and supporting structures of the neck are stretched beyond normal limits. Pain can travel or radiate from the neck to the shoulders and down into the arms and hands. There may also be numbness, tingling, burning or other unusual sensations in the arms or hands, particularly in the fingers. The brain may be jostled about within the skull and this can result in potentially serious injuries such as concussion, hematoma, edema or swelling. Headaches and vision problems may occur. In addition to the neck area, spinal injuries can occur between the shoulder blades, the mid back, or the lower back. Doctors call these body areas the thoracic spin, lumbar spine, and sacro-iliac or SI joint.

The face is another commonly injured area. Cuts and scrapes happen from striking objects within the vehicle compartment like the steering wheel or side door, or by broken glass. Airbag deployment causes burns and abrasions. More serious injuries include broken bones in the cheek or around the eyes (called the zygomatic arch and orbits), lacerations requiring sutures, stitches or staples, dental injuries such as lost teeth, jaw injuries like TMJ, and broken noses.

The chest and ribs are often forced into the seatbelt. Abrasions and bruising are common, as are painful broken ribs. Breast implants can develop leaks and deflate. Life-threatening internal injuries can happen, such as a lacerated spleen, damaged kidney or liver, thoracic or abdominal bleeding, and lung injuries like collapse or pneumothorax.

Often, legs are stretched forward at the time of impact. Commonly, one foot is pressing down on the brake pedal. The force and weight of the seated body are pushed onto locked legs, causing joints like the hip, knee, and ankle to absorb more than they are capable of. The hip may suffer ligament or labral damage (torn labrum). The knee may suffer damage to the ACL or MCL. Cartilage or the meniscus could be damaged or torn. These types of hip and knee injuries might require arthroscopic surgery for repair. Kneecaps (the patella) and the knee joint itself may be injured from striking underneath the dashboard. The bones and structures of the ankle joint can suffer derangement, particularly if the foot was solidly on the car floorboard or on a brake pedal.

Reporting Your Injuries After a Car Accident

The possibility of injury over a wide portion of the body shows why it is important to seek immediate medical evaluation and care after a vehicle accident. It is also important to discuss with the doctor all pains and symptoms you are experiencing, even ones that seem minor. There is a tendency to focus only on the problems that are most bothersome, figuring smaller pains will go away in a few days. All too often, these smaller problems can turn into one of the larger aspects of a claim. Therefore, it is critical to report every injury regardless of the degree. Insurance companies read medical records very carefully and pay particular attention to the initial complaints of pain. They are reluctant to make compensation for injuries not mentioned in the early medical records. This can mean the difference between settling and fighting a court battle.

If you've been injured in a car accident, you should not hesitate to contact Keslica Law Firm today to speak to a trusted Providence personal injury lawyer. Call (401) 229-2133 to learn how we can help.