Common Car Accident Injuries

Traffic accidents are the most leading cause of traumatic injury and death in North America. Various medical studies have been carried out over the years which assessed injury patterns presented by the different types of victims involved in car accident injuries and treated in hospital emergency services. – and the following are  listed as the most common types of traumatic injuries suffered by victims in car accidents.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are devastating injuries with serious consequences to both the victim and those that surround him. Within moments, an active independent person experiences a profound and traumatic life change, becoming dependent on others, requiring a lifetime of help and care. Typically the level of paralysis is determined by where damage occurs in the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries are normally classified as complete or incomplete injuries. A complete spinal cord injury happens when the affected car accident victim becomes unable to move and suffers sensory loss below the point of lesion (injury) – resulting in complete paraplegia or complete quadriplegia.

With an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord injuries overall functions are only partially compromised. For example, car accident victims may be able to retain some sort of sensation below the site of lesion, move their limbs, control some muscles (and unable to control others) and feel pain. Unfortunately, many car accident victims that suffer incomplete spinal cord injuries have lifelong issues with chronic pain.

Spinal cord injuries require a lifetime of care. You can read more here on the requirements that a spinal cord injury victim will more likely than not require throughout the course of his or her lifetime. Overall, there will be many requirements both from a rehabilitation and cost-of-living perspective. Projected evaluations and cost must be completed by your spinal cord injury lawyer and proper life care planners. Spinal cord injury litigation is extremely complicated – make sure you speak to a spinal cord injury litigation expert prior to ever communicating with any insurance company.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) presents in different forms ranging from mild alterations of consciousness, slowed thinking and development to an unrelenting comatose state and death. Brain injury trauma can result in conditions such as epidural, subdural, subarachnoid, or intracerebral hemorrhage or hematoma; diffuse axonal injury resulting from shearing injury; and open skull fractures with concurrent brain injury. When a serious traumatic brain injury happens, the symptoms can be completely life altering. For example, a person may develop slowed thinking, slowed speech, stuttering, balance difficulties, drowsiness, fatigue issues, mood changes, forgetfulness, memory difficulties, convulsions, seizures, vision problems, hearing problems, or loss of smell or taste.  It’s also been published in psychiatry journals, that up to one in five individuals may develop serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, dementia and other serious cognitive issues.

Also important to remember is that a traumatic brain injury doesn’t just affect the actual car accident victim; it can transform the lives of entire families. Depending upon the severity of the victim’s injury,  families may have to make considerable changes to the way they live, such as becoming a part-time or full-time care-giver. Many brain injured victims need and require 24 care and supervision.

Neck and Back Injuries Requiring Surgery

Back injuries are very common in car accidents, however serious back injuries, resulting in multilevel disc herniation or disc bulges, can at times require surgical intervention. If you’ve been in a car accident and suffered severe injuries to your back, it’s important that you speak to a car accident lawyer sooner rather than later.  Typical back surgeries following a car accident can be a spinal fusion, laminectomy, kyphoplasty, or discectomy.

A laminectomy type surgery can relieve the pressure of spinal stenosis – which is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can compress the spinal cord and/or surrounding nerve roots, which can cause terrible and debilitating life changes. With a laminectomy surgery, the spinal surgeon removes the rear portion of one or more of your vertebrae which reduces the pressure on your spinal cord. A laminectomy and spinal fusion often occur together.

A spinal fusion is a procedure used to fuse two or more vertebrae together so the heel into one single solid piece of bone. Typically this is done to eliminate a car accident victims painful motion or to restore stability and his or her spine. In spinal fusions, some type of bone grafting material is placed in the space between the two vertebrae after the damaged disk is removed. Often times a pieces of a person’s pelvis is harvested to use as the bone graft.

Kyphoplasty is designed to stop the pain caused by spinal fracture, to stabilize the vertebrae and to help restore some of the body height of the vertebrae due to a compression fracture. Kyphoplasty, is similar to vertebralplast ( where cement is injected into the vertebral bone to prevent it from collapsing further). The difference with kyphoplasty is that a small balloon is used, which is injected into the vertebrae, and when expanded, gently lifts bone fragments into the correct position.

Discectomy, which can be done anteriorly or posteriorly, is a surgery performed to remove herniated portions of disks, either in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar area. By removing portions of the herniated disc that is irritating the spinal nerves, many car accident victims feel tremendous improvement.

Femur Fractures, Hip fractures and Hip replacements

In T-bone type collisions, femur fractures, hip fractures requiring total hip replacement are quite common, statistically. If car accident victims are older, they can experience a dramatic decline in health, especially if that person suffers from multiple ailments or chronic conditions at the same time, such as diabetes.

Femur fractures – the body’s longest and strongest bone, can be classified either as transverse fractures, oblique fractures, spiral fractures comminuted fractures, and open fractures.  Typically broken femurs require external fixation hardware, intramedullary nailing (which is the method that most surgeons using Canada) or plates and screws. Normally femur fractures result in significant scarring. With hip fractures, if the car accident happened at high velocity and the hip was significantly damaged, a partial or total hip replacement may be required.

Serious Knee Injuries

With serious car accidents, high-velocity head-on collisions, or pedestrian accidents – knee joint injuries are extremely common. In fact, in a recent article published by Forensic Science International, it was reported that up to 60% of pedestrian victims in traffic accidents suffer knee joint injuries. Knee injuries can no doubt lead to long-term issues such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. It’s been reported over the years that although knee osteoarthritis is typically a slowly progressing disorder, individuals with a history of joint trauma are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis and are diagnosed approximately 10 years earlier than individuals without joint trauma.

Tibial plateau fractures are fractures that also often occur in high energy car accidents. Although fractures of proximal tibia comprises only of 1.2% of all fractures – these fractures can be quite challenging to manage and very complex to reccover from. The tibial plateau in the knee, is a major load-bearing area of the human body. Tibial plateau fractures involve the upper end of the tibial bone that carries the weight of the body across it. Any fractures in the upper end of the tibia can have a profound effect on the functioning of the knee joint and weight-bearing functions. Tibial plateau fractures are common in pedestrian accidents and are often called “bumper accidents” due to the bumper of the vehicle hitting the pedestrian on the leg.

Broken bones and fractures

Serious orthopedic injuries are common in high impact car accidents as well as in pedestrians that are hit by cars. The most common types of fractures that we have seen are arm and wrist fractures, femur fractures, ankle fractures and skull fractures. If you have been in a car accident and you have suffered fractures and subsequent surgery that is caused you lost wages, ongoing lost income, pain and suffering and overall loss of enjoyment of life you may be entitled to compensation.

Facial and skull fractures are more prominent in very severe accidents or in accidents where victims may not have been wearing their seat belt.

While many orthopedic fractures can no doubt heal conservatively with casting, some bone fractures require surgery such as open reduction and internal fixation, meaning that the bone fragments are repositioned surgically to their normal alignment, and then held together with plates and screws, or long nails down the bone marrow in the centre of the bone.

Joint injuries, with or without associated disruption of the articular surface, frequently lead to a progressive process of severe debilitating condition known as acute post-traumatic arthritis. Post-traumatic arthritis develops after an acute direct trauma to the joints. Physical trauma may also cause chronic inflammatory arthritis.

Psychological injuries

Psychological distress is quite prevalent following an serious car accident. Psychological trauma is just as bad, if not worse than physical injuries in many aspects, particularly if the injury is life-changing and severe. It’s not uncommon for a car accident victims to suffer psychological injuries such as depression, elevated levels of anxiety, driving phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, social withdrawal, thoughts of suicide, irritability, and loneliness, anger, impatience etc.

Elevated rates of depressed mood and anxiety are common with people that suffer a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury, as well as high levels of pain and fatigue, leading to reduced quality of life.

For victims of spinal cord injury or amputation, there is more often than not a major grieving process that one goes through in coming to terms with their loss and accepting the reality of life as it is today. Depressed mood and negative psychological state is very common and often warrants long-term therapeutic psychosocial adjustment. People that are involved in life-changing car accidents, or car accidents that result in near-death experiences, often never return to be the same person. Men, in particular, who suffer serious injuries and are no longer able to work, often become highly depressed, irritable and suffer serious psychological complications due to their inability to produce and protect their family and loved ones.

Research has also found elevated psychological distress in victims who’s insurance company has refused to provide them with proper assistance, unreasonably cut off or delayed their medical and rehabilitation therapy, and insurance companies that refuse to accept and /or minimize their post-accident debilitating condition when considering their claim for compensation.

Psychological distress, in combination with physical injury often results in substantial suffering that can continue years after the crash – and if left untreated, or not treated properly, could eventually become a chronic mental disorder.

Amputations

Serious car accidents can also result in traumatic amputation. A traumatic amputation is defined as the surgical or traumatic separation of a limb or appendage from the body. Traumatic amputations remain one of the most emotionally disturbing injuries suffered by car accident victims. Upper extremities are vulnerable during rollover accidents, especially if the positioning of an arm is on the open window. Traumatic amputations can also involve complications such as infection, phantom limb pain, psychological distress, and muscle weakness.

Amputation is an irreversible surgical option which may result in physically challenged and bodily disfigurement – and emotionally devastating for the victims. The loss of a body part and change in lifestyle options, work, and other activities of daily living often causes a victim to be at risk of developing severe depressive disorder. Often times, the victim is left with multiple negative psychological factors such as feelings of loss, self stigma, difficulty coping with the impairment, embarrassment, social isolation, the lack of emotional support etc. etc.

Shoulder injuries

Car accident related shoulder injuries are tremendously common. Typically, in serious car accidents, victims can suffer a multitude of combined injuries, including torn rotator cuff tendons (supraspinatus, infraspinatus) fractured collarbones, fractured upper humerus, fractured shoulder blade, torn biceps, muscles torn from the bone, ligament damage etc. etc. Often times shoulder surgery is required in order to help improve a victim’s ability to lift, carry, reach, restore range of motion and reduce pain. Unfortunately, shoulder injuries can result in life-long disability.

Internal injuries

Internal injuries are also a common result from car accidents. For example, in high impact head-on collisions, accident victims may suffer seat-belt related injuries, severe internal organ injuries, traumatic abdominal wall hernias, tears in the abdominal wall muscles, internal bleeding and collapsed lungs.

In addition, if the stomach is injured during an accident, the car accident victim can suffer a rupture to the abdominal aorta, otherwise called an abdominal aorta aneurysm. Typically most car accident victims that suffer an abdominal aorta aneurysm do not survive.

Fatality and wrongful death

If your loved one has been killed due to the negligence of another driver, you may have a valid claim for wrongful death against the insurance company that insured the driver that cause the accident. Unlike personal injury cases, where damages for compensation and lost wages is focused on the individual that is hurt, the surviving dependents (the family) of those killed in fatal accidents in Ontario are entitled to compensation.  Dependents in Ontario are considered to be a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of the deceased person. Dependents in a wrongful death case are eligible to recover both pecuniary damages (compensation which may be calculated in financial terms) and non-pecuniary damages (compensation that is not so easy to calculate, such as pain and suffering).  However, in practice, pecuniary damages such as the loss of income or the deceased loss of wages are typically limited to the spouse and kids of the person who died.

Have you suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident?

Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers are focused on quality client care and overall case outcome. Our firm aims to provide you with valuable legal guidance and representation to help safeguard your family and future. Ontario is not a victim friendly prrovince, and car accident law and insurance is extremely complicated. Our Hamilton car accident lawyers have assisted many claimants in the same situation and circumstances as you. Contact us for a free no obligation consultation. We are happy to answer your questions and provide you with an opinion on your potential claim. Feel free to fill in a contact form, or call us at 905-333-8888, 24/7 for more information.

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