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Each year in the United States, more than three million people are injured in car accidents. Although car accident victims have suffered every imaginable type of injury, some injuries are more common than others. Proving the true extent of certain types of injuries can be surprisingly difficult.
Whiplash and Other Soft Tissue Injuries
The term “whiplash” is a non-medical term that occurs when your head snaps forward and backward suddenly. In the case of a car accident, the cause is often a rear-end collision. Frequently there is soft tissue injury to the ligaments and tendons around your neck. Whiplash can be excruciatingly painful yet difficult to prove. Common whiplash symptoms include neck pain, back pain, blurred vision, tingling, and headache.
You might need physical therapy, a neck brace, ice, and medication to recover from whiplash.
Lacerations slash the body at skin level or all the way to the bone. Windshields and windows shatter, seatbelts dig into the abdomen, airbags deploy, and you may hit the sharp metal edge of just about any part of the car. Surgery is sometimes required, and permanent disfigurement is a frequent consequence.
Ultimately, the human body is fragile, and parts of your skeleton can easily break from the force of an auto accident. The restraint of a seatbelt can fracture your ribs even as it prevents your body from hitting the windshield. Broken bones, however, usually do not cause permanent damage except where the spine or the skull are involved.
Burns can be among the most painful of all injuries. Ironically, third-degree burns are the least painful in the long term because the nerves themselves have become damaged. Third-degree burns cause some of the worst forms of disfigurement, however. Most people don’t realize that airbags and seatbelts cause a large percentage of car accident burns.
Neck and Back Injuries
Neck and back injuries can cause chronic, lifelong pain as well as permanent paralysis. In addition to broken bones, the overwhelming force of an auto accident can cause herniations or ruptures of the discs of the spine. Do not ignore an injury like this, especially if pain persists beyond a few days.
Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury can occur when the brain slams against the inside of the skull. This type of injury is also sometimes called a concussion or a closed head injury. The most insidious aspect of a concussion or TBI is that symptoms can be delayed for hours or even days after the accident. If you don’t seek medical treatment because you don’t believe you were injured, you run the risk that the insurance company will claim that your injuries were not caused by your car accident. These types of injuries can cause dizziness, headaches, disorientation, and fatigue. They can also drastically affect your personality and cognitive function.
Internal bleeding is a silent killer. It often occurs in conjunction with fractures, when a bone or another hard object penetrates your blood vessels. Even if it doesn’t kill you, internal bleeding can cause you to lose a limb, or it can cause your internal organs to fail. You might be suffering from internal bleeding even with no puncture wounds on your body.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A serious auto accident is a traumatic event that can wound your psyche just as it can wound your body. You might develop a phobia of driving or riding in an automobile. You might develop chronic anxiety, or you might suffer insomnia or nightmares. PTSD symptoms are serious and they require attention.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering From Your Injuries
Medical expenses are relatively easy to prove once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), as are lost earnings and disfigurement.
However, proving pain and suffering compensation can be tricky.
Pain and suffering damages are important elements of your financial recovery that compensate you for physical suffering. Most people underestimate the amount that they can win.
Suffering is inherently subjective, and the challenge is to find objective evidence of subjective suffering. Following are some possible forms of evidence:
- X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc, from your doctor;
- An evaluation from a medical expert of the seriousness of your injuries and the extent of the pain that most people suffer with your kind of injuries;
- Evidence that you hired a babysitter because you were unable to care for your child;
- Evidence that you hired someone to take your children to school because you couldn’t drive;
- A prescription for sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medications, issued by your doctor in response to your complaints of insomnia (if you are claiming PTSD);
- Evidence that you have been undergoing counseling for depression, or that your doctor prescribed you antidepressants (if you are claiming PTSD);
- Photographs of your injuries over time;
- Photographs at various stages of your recovery; and
- Statements from witnesses, especially caregivers, of the extent of your suffering.
It is also a good idea to keep a journal in which you record your own experiences and how the accident has affected you. Describe your pain, its duration, what kind of assistance you required from caregivers, any activity you have had to give up or postpone, and any anxiety or depression that you have experienced.
Compensation for Your Injuries: Settlement vs. Trial
Almost any auto accident victim prefers settlement to trial. Defendants typically prefer settlement as well, which is why well over 90 percent of auto accident claims never make it to trial. Ironically, however, the best way to settle a car accident claim is to prepare well for trial and wait for the opposing party to lose their nerve. If your claim is sizable, a personal injury lawyer with a strong trial record is imperative.
Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you with your auto accident claim. We may not be able to undo the hardships you’ve endured as a result of the accident, but we can and will fight to make sure that you’re compensated properly.