Common Car Accident Injuries
In the United States, more than 17,000 car accidents are reported to the police each day. Most car accidents cause only property damage, but many of them result in personal injury. There are many factors affecting the probability of getting into a car accident. More people crash their vehicles on Saturday than any other day of the week. On weekdays, car accidents are more likely to happen during evening rush hour.
The physical and financial toll of car accidents is significant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accident victims collectively spend more than one million days in the hospital each year. That can mean high medical bills, as well as lost wages, not to mention the added stress of pain and suffering and dealing with insurance companies and vehicle repairs.
Car accident injuries range from minor cuts and bruises to devastating, life-altering medical conditions, including paralysis and traumatic brain injury. Soft tissue injuries are common, resulting in damage to tendons, muscles, and/or ligaments. Victims may also experience penetrating injuries, such as cuts from shattered glass or contact with other objects on impact. Car accident victims may suffer cuts or scrapes when airbags deploy on impact. If you have sustained injuries, speaking with a seasoned car accident lawyer will help determine your best course of action.
What Are Different Types of Car Accident Injuries?
Serious car accident injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Arm and leg injuries: When another vehicle or object slams into a car during a side-impact collision, the arms and legs of passengers or drivers may be pressed against the car door. Drivers and passengers can also suffer serious knee injuries if they hit the dashboard or the seat in front of them during a head-on collision. Some arm and leg injuries are devastating enough to warrant surgery or even amputation.
- Burns: Hot fluids may flow from a vehicle after an accident, or the vehicle itself could catch fire. If the skin touches either, it could result in burns the severity of which will depend on the temperature of the hot surface and the length of the exposure.
- Chest injuries: Chest injuries in a car accident may range from minor bruises to broken ribs and internal bleeding. Drivers may be susceptible to chest injuries caused by hitting the steering wheel. A sudden, forceful impact may also cause severe bruising to drivers or passengers wearing shoulder harnesses.
- Facial injuries: The sudden stopping of a vehicle can cause your forward momentum to force your face to impact the windshield or the steering wheel, causing disfigurement in your face or loss of teeth. You might require surgery to repair the damage, but you could still be left with lasting scars.
- Internal injuries: Significant impact to the body can cause damage to the internal organs and result in internal bleeding. This is dangerous because it may not be easily detected but does require immediate medical attention.
- Lacerations: Torn sheet metal or broken glass can cause cuts and lacerations. Bruises will occur when your body impacts any other part of the car. You can suffer from road rash if your skin is dragged across the pavement causing friction between the two.
- Spinal cord injuries: Car accidents are a major cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Spinal cord injuries include both neck and back injuries. Injuries to the neck affect the cervical vertebrae of the spine. Injuries to the upper back affect the thoracic vertebrae, and they are typically the most serious, potentially causing permanent nerve damage. Strains and sprains of the lower back can be very painful and restrict movement, as can herniated disks. Car accident victims who suffer from spinal cord injuries may also develop further complications, including spinal fluid leaks, blood clots, and pneumonia.
- Traumatic brain injury: Severe impact to the head may cause swelling inside the skull; if the fluid and tissue inside the head are severely injured, brain damage can result. Unfortunately, it may take months for symptoms of traumatic brain injury to be fully noticeable. Other types of head injuries include lacerations and bruising when the head hits a side window or steering wheel.
- Whiplash: Sudden movement of the head or neck during a collision can severely stretch muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back, causing a specific type of soft tissue injury commonly known as whiplash.
The speed of the vehicle has a significant effect on the severity of the injury. If the person was wearing a shoulder harness and/or a seat belt, the chances of serious injury can be reduced. Studies have shown that the risk of spinal cord injury can be significantly reduced using seat belts in combination with airbags. Defensive driving and avoiding alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel can also help prevent car accident injuries.
How Can I Recoup My Losses after a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, meaning you have the option to file a claim on your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance or seek a claim against the at-fault driver. It will depend on the type of insurance you purchased prior to your accident. When you first purchase car insurance in the commonwealth, you have the choice of two different types of car insurance. Those choices are:
- Limited-tort coverage: Offers drivers a cheaper price on their annual premiums, but in exchange you are prohibited from filing a claim against another driver and instead must settle with what you can get through your PIP, which is limited.
- Full-tort coverage: Allows drivers to file a claim against an at-fault driver, means there is no limit on the compensation a driver can seek. This option is not as popular, as it comes with higher premiums.
It is important to note that you must have the appropriate insurance purchased prior to your accident. You cannot upgrade your insurance after an accident with the goal of filing a claim against another driver.
What Are the Benefits of the PIP?
There are a few benefits with attempting to obtain compensation through your PIP. The major one is that it is no-fault insurance. In other words, regardless of your level of culpability in your accident, you will still be able to recover compensation for your accident. The compensation you will receive includes:
- Medical expenses: This includes all doctor visits, tests, treatments, and other medical procedures associated with your accident. It would also cover any surgeries or rehabilitation session you must go through.
- Lost wages: If you are forced to miss work because of your injuries or must take a reduced schedule, you can seek compensation to recoup the salary you were unable to collect while you were out of work.
- Vehicle repair: If your vehicle sustained any damage during the accident, you could seek compensation from your insurance to repair any damage or to total out your car.
If you purchased the full-tort insurance, you would have the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver. In that type of claim, you can seek compensation for the above expenses. You can also seek compensation for non-economic expenses such as:
- Pain and suffering: You can seek a financial amount that will compensate you for the pain and suffering you experienced from the accident. This number will be based on the severity of the accident.
- Mental trauma: There could be a significant mental impact if you are involved in a car accident that could hinder your ability to drive or get in the car for years to come. Like your physical pain, you can seek compensation and the amount will depend on the level of trauma you sustained.
- Loss of companionship: You can receive financial support if you are unable to perform sexually with your partner or are emotionally distanced because of the accident.
When you are filing a claim against another at-fault driver, you should bear in mind that the commonwealth follows a modified comparative fault rule. This means that everyone who bore responsibility for the accident must contribute a portion of the overall award based on their level of responsibility. The court will assign a percentage of responsibility to all involved, and that will be the percentage of their responsibility.
It means that you might not get as much as you believed you would receive if the at-fault driver is not found to bear all the responsibility. In addition, if you are found to bear any responsibility, you will have to contribute that percentage. In addition, if a person is found to bear more than 50 percent responsibility for an accident, they are ineligible to receive any of the compensation.
It is important to bring a car accident lawyer on board as quickly as possible because the commonwealth has a two-year statute of limitations from the day of your accident. If you fail to file a case within that timeframe, you will lose out on the opportunity to collect any compensation.
How Do I Prove Fault in My Car Accident Case?
If you choose to file a claim through your PIP insurance, which is an option that is always available to you, you will not need to prove fault or disprove your own fault for the circumstances that led to your accident. However, if you do choose to file a claim against another driver, you will have to prove fault.
In a civil trial, the burden of proof to prove fault and negligence will be on your side, which is why it is important that you have a lawyer represent you on these matters because they can get complicated and intricate. To prove fault, there are certain areas that you must prove. Those are:
- Duty of care: The driver owes you a certain level of care, which is the same that they owe to all other drivers on the road. This includes simple things such as paying attention to the road and obeying all road signs.
- Breach of duty of care: The person violated this duty of care by committing an act that went directly against their duty. It could have been an act of negligence or maliciousness.
- Casual connection: That breach must that have a direct relationship to the accident in which you were involved. Were it not for that person’s action’s, the accident never would have occurred.
- Compensable damages: That accident then caused financial consequences for you or a loved one, which would include damage to your property or injuries that you or your loved one sustained.
To prove your case, you will need clear and convincing evidence, which could include photographs, statements from witnesses, medical reports, and the police report. Your lawyer will help you gather this evidence immediately after your accident occurred.
What Should I Do after a Car Accident Has Taken Place?
You might be confused as to what you should and should not do in the moments following a car accident. These are important moments that could play a role in your recovery as well as the future of your case. You should know ahead of time the steps that you need to take. Those steps include the following:
- Stop your vehicle: By law, when you are involved in a car accident, you should stop your vehicle and, if possible, move it off the road. If vehicle damage or injuries occurred, you are prohibited from leaving the scene until an officer gives you permission to leave.
- Seek medical help: If you have sustained injuries in your accident and if you can move, get to a safe place on the road to wait for help to arrive. Have someone call an ambulance if you cannot do it and accept any medical treatment offered, as there are those injuries that might not appear initially but are lingering under the surface.
- Remain calm: What you say immediately after an accident can be used against you later when you are negotiating with either your insurance or someone else’s insurance company. Do not admit any fault for the accident. Also, do not accuse anyone else of anything. It is best not to discuss the details of the accident with the other driver. Do not sign any waivers or other official documents.
- Cooperate with the police: Call the police and cooperate with them as best as you can, but you should avoid discussing any details about the accident. The police will issue a report based on their findings, and that report could be invaluable or detrimental to your case depending on what it says.
- Gather evidence: If you are able, speak with witnesses on the scene who might have seen something and collect their names and contact information. Then take pictures of the damage you and any other drivers sustained as well as any conditions that led to the accident.
You should not hesitate to reach out to a car accident lawyer who will be able to handle your case. They can consolidate your evidence and determine the best method to proceed.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help Clients Recover from Their Injuries
No matter the injuries that you sustained in your car accident, you will need help to recover from those injuries. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.