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What to Expect Physically after a Car Accident

Numerous factors contribute to the nature and severity of your physical condition after a motor vehicle collision. Age, previous injuries, safety equipment, the angle of impact, and the availability of quality medical care all play a role in the recovery process. A local car accident lawyer could help injured claimants and their families understand what to expect during the medical recovery and insurance claims process following a serious car crash.

Most Common Physical Conditions Caused by Car Accidents

No matter the type of accident, the force of a crash often results in neck and back pain. Young drivers may recover from whiplash in a few days, while older drivers suffering could suffer from multiple disc herniations. In addition to spinal damage, particular types of motor vehicle collisions often lead to specific physical injuries. Consider the nature of your crash and whether you’ve experienced any of the following conditions.

Rear-End Accidents

One of the more common motor vehicle collisions, receiving a rear impact, generally slams drivers and passengers back into their seats before quickly snapping them forward.

Getting rear-ended often means suffering from the following conditions, the more serious of which often occur when the rear vehicle was traveling at an excessive speed:

  • Whiplash A strain or sprain of the tendons in the neck and upper back can result from the rapid back-and-forth head motion typically associated with rear-end collisions.
  • Slipped discs – A herniation or displacement of the delicate gel-like discs between vertebra often causes spinal damage and nerve pain.
  • Facial fractures – Because many rear-end accidents qualify as “fender-bender” collisions, sometimes the impact does not trigger the airbag before a driver or passenger’s face hits the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Shoulder strains – Often result when seatbelts suddenly stop vehicle occupants by putting force on their shoulders.
  • Knee dislocations – Rear-end impacts can force a driver or front passenger’s knee into the lower dashboard.
  • Diffuse axonal injury This type of traumatic brain injury is often the result of a high-speed rear-impact when the head snaps back and forward so quickly that the motion damages or severs the brain stem.

The greater the crash’s force – typically caused by the rear vehicle’s weight and speed – the more serious the resultant physical conditions may be.

T-Bone and Intersection Crashes

High-speed intersection crashes often result in devastating injuries to drivers or front passengers.

These conditions may include:

  • Fractures Side impacts may fracture hips, femurs, and upper arm bones by the collision’s sheer force.
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage – If the crash pushes a door into a motor vehicle occupant, trapping them between the door and console, the result is often internal damage that can include fractured ribs and bleeding.
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Depending on the vehicle’s angle of impact and safety features, drivers or passengers may have their head thrown against the vehicle’s door or side window, resulting in a concussion or other head trauma.
  • Burns – A forceful impact to the right or left side of a car near the gas tank could result in a sudden car fire resulting in severe second or third-degree burns

Injuries often sustained in a rear-end accident may also be sustained after an intersection collision.

Head-On Collisions and Underride Accidents

Any collision involving the front-end of a vehicle, including head-on crashes or reverse rear-end accidents (getting stuck under a semi-truck or larger vehicle), may result in life-changing injuries or fatalities. Front occupants’ legs often get trapped inside the crushed car, resulting in fractures or necessitating amputations. Getting pinned might also cause paralysis, head trauma, or internal organ damage.

Beware of Late-Onset Injuries After a Car Crash

Immediately after a car accident, many people experience a rush of adrenaline. This hormone dulls pain and helps you focus on your immediate survival. As such, drivers and passengers often feel fine with no noticeable pain directly after an accident takes place. Latent impairments, such as traumatic headaches, whiplash, back pain, and internal damage, often affect injured claimants the evening or morning after a crash. Further, swelling from the initial trauma might prevent emergency room professionals from clearly identifying strains, sprains, and spinal damage.

Do not be surprised if you experience more pain a few days after the accident than immediately following the crash. For this reason, you should wait to give insurers definitive answers about your medical condition. Report a potential injury if you experience any pain, especially if it lasts more than a week. You should also consider following up with an orthopedist or primary care physician for additional testing after an initial emergency room visit.

Negligent drivers frequently cite victim statements on police reports and emergency room records to avoid taking responsibility for a claimant’s injuries. Legal professionals often recommend getting all the treatment you need and waiting until you’re entirely out-of-pain before permitting auto insurers to close a claim. If you continue to experience pain a week after the accident or suffer from a severe injury, consider discussing your insurance benefits and medical compensation rights with a local car accident lawyer.

What to Expect in the Weeks Following a Car Accident

Motor vehicle accidents account for many of the conditions treated by back, neck, and neurological professionals. Injured claimants traditionally need some form of physical therapy after a crash. In the weeks following an accident, you may need anti-inflammatories, prescription pain medication, and at-home hot and cold therapy. You might also struggle to complete daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, and cleaning, or stay in one position, such as sitting, standing, and lying down for any length of time.

Injured claimants often begin treatment at the recommendation of an emergency room physician or their primary care doctor. They should expect to follow up with their doctors every few weeks, and insurance adjusters may require claimants to attend independent medical examinations during this period. Do not work if you cannot do so without pain.

Claimants should take advantage of personal injury protection or short-term disability benefits in the weeks following even a seemingly minor car crash. If you do not see improvement after a few weeks of treatment, you might need more extensive medical intervention.

Timeframe for Rehabilitation and Treatment of Common Car Accident Injuries

Most doctors begin treating patients suffering from neck and back conditions with traditional methods. These methods often involve reducing the injured area’s swelling and encouraging patients to rest and facilitate natural healing. This process may help injured claimants recover from minor whiplash, but many car accident injuries do not correctly heal without extensive treatment.

Many individuals injured spend a few months attending physical therapy and following up with their chiropractor. If they do not improve, doctors may refer them to a neurological specialist or orthopedic surgeon.

Some injured claimants need one or more spinal fusion surgeries to correct painful disc herniations caused by rear-end crashes. Doctors might also recommend seeking surgical intervention for torn ligaments or fractures. Patients may choose to continue therapy, hoping to avoid spinal surgery, and they may wait years until undergoing an operation.

Claimants injured in motor vehicle collisions should speak with a car accident attorney about their options for filing car accident litigation if no improvement to injuries takes place.

Most states place a time limit on filing car accident claims, but patients with viable car accident cases may recover compensation for past and future anticipated medical expenses. Attorneys can always update plaintiffs’ losses during litigation as injured parties continue undergoing medical treatments.

Recovering From Disabling Injuries Following a Car Crash

Motor vehicle accidents cause some of the most devastating injuries sustained in the United States, including irreversible head trauma, paralysis, amputations, and life-altering burns. Patients declared permanently disabled due to a car crash often need specialized medical care. This care might include lifetime nursing and household assistance, extensive physical rehabilitation, specialized medical equipment, cognitive therapy, or multiple surgeries.

Liable auto insurance companies might settle disabling bodily injury claims by offering the full policy amount. However, even recovering the maximum payout available from liability insurers seldom reimburses seriously injured claimants for disabling physical conditions. If a doctor indicates you or a loved one sustained a permanent injury due to a car accident, do not accept an insurance settlement without discussing your options with a local car accident attorney.

Preparing for Secondary Conditions Caused by Auto Accident Injuries

Unfortunately, claimants can develop secondary injuries or conditions as a direct result of the initial injuries sustained in a car accident.

Look for these signs of a secondary injury or condition in the weeks and months following a car accident:

  • Opioid addiction – Many individuals struggling with addiction to painkillers reported first using the drugs to treat car accident injuries
  • Extreme fatigue – Trouble sleeping due to pain may cause injured claimants to develop chronic fatigue syndrome or traumatic onset fibromyalgia.
  • Additional neck and back pain – When car crash injuries prevent victims from exercising, moving, or sitting normally, this may strain other areas of the back and result in exacerbated back and neck damage.
  • Damage to functioning limbs – Injuries to dominate arms cause claimants to overcompensate with their non-dominant hand. This process often strains the weaker limb, causing additional pain and damage to it.
  • Falls –Pain, sedating medications, and spinal damage all can contribute to claimants’ falls, leading to further injuries.
  • Depression – The inability to enjoy life coupled with disabling pain often leads to depression and anxiety. This mental health condition usually has physical side effects, including fatigue and weakness.

Experienced medical professionals might help auto accident claimants avoid preventable secondary injuries after a car crash. However, many patients must raise these concerns with physicians and ask about building strength, permissible exercises, fall risks, and alternatives to addictive medications.

A local car crash lawyer may demand compensation for all primary or secondary injuries linked to the accident; however, professionals recommend first dedicating time to your initial recovery. An attorney might assist you with the insurance and disability claims process or negotiate a reasonable settlement to cover your lost wages and medical expenses.

Compensation Available for Physical Injuries Resulting From a Motor Vehicle Collision

Claimants suffering from bodily harm caused by negligent drivers might recover financial damages for their injuries. Generally, these damages exist to compensate victims for their direct and indirect losses. While awards might include payouts for lost wages, inconvenience, and mental anguish, past and future medical expenses account for most car accident settlements.

Consider speaking with local counsel about recovering compensation for these out-of-pocket medical costs:

  • Ambulance bills
  • Emergency room expenses
  • Doctor bills and copays
  • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
  • Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy
  • Medical equipment, such as pillows, beds, wheelchair, and slings
  • Home nursing care
  • Household help
  • Medical transportation and medical mileage
  • Necessary housing modifications, such as ramps or special shower equipment

While states require claimants to file car accident litigation within a specific timeframe, injured parties might recover for anticipated future medical costs and pain. This process usually requires consulting with medical and economic experts to develop admissible reports detailing future needs. Doctors might speculate on the likeliness of further surgery or the scope of expected physical therapy costs. Once plaintiffs settle their car accident claims, they may not generally recover additional damages for a secondary or worsening physical condition.

Remember to Gather Evidence of Medical Expenses Stemming from the Crash

When claimants struggle to cope with the physical pain and limitations associated with auto accidents, they often neglect to maintain evidence of medical expenses. Family members should help injured claimants record and collect any receipts and invoices related to treatment. This material should include tracking medical mileage, saving copay documentation, keeping pharmacy receipts, and even saving invoices for necessary take-out meals and home-cleaning expenses.

Certified local lawyers could help you gather additional evidence of physical damages and calculate your bodily injury claims’ actual value. Most auto accident attorneys do not charge any consultation fees or up-front expenses. Instead, they typically accept viable car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. Consider scheduling a no-risk, confidential consultation with a car accident professional in your state.

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