More than 39,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred in the US in 2021, resulting in approximately 42,939 fatalities. According to the Department of Transport, the country suffers at least $340 billion in economic losses because of traffic accidents. Various factors contribute to these incidents, such as speeding, driving under the influence, failure to wear a seat belt, and other traffic infractions.
Suppose you were injured in an auto accident. There are various options available to seek damages from at-fault parties. For instance, you can file a car accident claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is advisable when pursuing legal action after an accident. If you are looking for a law office best suited to your needs, law firms offer free consultations to clients. During these meetings, a personal injury lawyer can assess your situation and determine the best strategy for your case.
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Most Common Car Accident Injuries
Car crashes can result in different injuries, varying in type and severity. Fractures, whiplash, head and brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, and soft tissue injuries are among the most common injuries from an auto accident.
The specific type of injury a car accident victim sustains depends on several factors. It includes the angle of impact, vehicle speed, and seat belt use, among others.
Neck and back injuries
Neck and back injuries can have long-lasting effects on injured victims. The most common types of these injuries are whiplash and spinal cord injuries.
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that happens when the head is abruptly jerked back and forth. It usually happens in rear-end collisions. The rapid movement strains the neck and damages the ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
For instance, a driver rear-ends another motorist at a red light. The force from the impact can cause their head to snap forward and backward, leading to whiplash.
On the other hand, spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is damaged, causing loss of motor and sensory function. This damage can lead to severe complications, such as paralysis and loss of bodily functions. Usually, accidents with high-impact collisions, like rollovers, can compress, fracture, or dislocate the spine.
Car occupants can sustain concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from direct impact on the head. Similarly, rapid acceleration or deceleration that causes the brain to hit the skull can also result in head injuries.
An unexpected blow or jolt to the head from accidents such as rear-end or head-on collisions can lead to concussions. They can cause temporary dysfunction and symptoms such as memory problems, dizziness, or headaches.
For example, a driver strikes another car’s side at an intersection. The head’s side-to-side movement can cause a concussion when the brain collides with the inside of the skull.
TBIs are more catastrophic brain injuries from a strong impact or penetration of the skull. This injury causes damage to brain tissue. It may lead to long-term cognitive, emotional, and physical impairment.
For instance, a high-speed collision causes a motorist’s head to strike the windshield. The impact can result in a traumatic brain injury.
Fractures can occur in different body parts, including the legs, arms, ribs, spine, and pelvis. Wearing a seatbelt provides significant protection. However, there are cases where victims can still experience sprains or broken bones, including the clavicle bone.
An auto accident’s impact can subject the body to sudden and intense forces. They may result in direct or indirect trauma to the bones that cause fractures. For example, in a head-on collision, the car occupant’s arms collide with a hard surface like the steering wheel or dashboard. This impact can result in fractures of the forearm or wrist bones.
Seatbelts and airbags are crucial for protecting occupants, but they can also contribute to specific types of injuries, like collarbone fractures. For example, the force from the seatbelt across the shoulder and chest can transfer energy to the clavicle. Since this bone is thin and exposed, it is susceptible to fracture in these scenarios.
Accident victims can also sustain internal bleeding or hemorrhage from impact and trauma experienced during a crash. This serious injury occurs when blood vessels or organs leak blood into surrounding tissues or body cavities.
Examples of how internal bleeding can occur in auto accidents include the following:
- Organ damage: The forceful impact of a car crash can damage internal organs like the liver, kidneys, spleen, or intestines. For example, a driver’s body strikes the steering wheel during a collision. The force can lead to severe abdominal trauma and bleeding from injured organs.
- Ruptured blood vessels: A collision’s sudden deceleration and impact can cause blood vessels to rupture. It can occur in various body parts, such as the brain, abdomen, or limbs. For instance, a severe head-on collision may cause a sudden stop. It may lead to the brain hitting the skull’s side and bleeding within the brain tissue.
What To Do After an Auto Accident
After a car crash, staying calm while taking prompt and appropriate actions is vital. This behavior ensures your safety and well-being and is crucial to potential injury claims.
In addition, actions taken immediately after a car accident can significantly impact any legal action that may arise from the incident. For instance, an injured victim did not seek medical attention until a few weeks after a hit-and-run accident. It may cast doubt over whether they sustained injuries during the collision or from an unrelated incident.
Stay at the accident scene
After an auto accident, you should move to a safe area, if possible. It mitigates the risk of further injuries or accidents, especially if the scene of the accident is in a high-traffic area.
Suppose your vehicle is obstructing traffic or in a dangerous position. Carefully maneuver it to the side of the road. In addition, turn on your hazard lights or emergency flashers to alert other drivers to the accident ahead.
Seek medical attention
It is crucial to check yourself and others for injuries, even if you don’t feel hurt. Some injuries may be immediately apparent, such as cuts and lacerations. However, certain injuries may not be visible to the naked eye or may have delayed symptoms.
Even if you feel fine initially, calling for emergency medical care is advisable to assess everyone’s condition. Medical professionals can thoroughly examine and identify hidden injuries that may not be immediately apparent.
Injuries such as internal bleeding or concussions may not develop immediate symptoms and can take a few days to manifest.
Contact the authorities
Contact law enforcement even for minor collisions. They will provide an official incident accident report, which is valuable for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings. The police report provides an objective account of the accident. It includes the date, time, location, involved parties, and witness statements.
In addition, it is essential to interact with other parties involved in the accident and exchange specific information, including the following:
- Full names and contact information: Obtain the names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses at the scene.
- Insurance information: Motorists must exchange insurance company names, policy numbers, and contact details with the other drivers involved in the incident.
- Vehicle information: Take note of the model, make, and license plate number of all cars involved in the accident.
Taking photos and video footage of the accident scene is essential to build a solid personal injury case. This documentation is valuable evidence to support your claim in disputes or legal proceedings.
Capture images that display the position of the vehicles, surrounding road conditions, and visible property damage to all cars involved. It’s crucial to include close-up shots of the damage each vehicle sustained and visible injuries that you or others may have suffered.
In addition, gathering and recording witness testimonials at the scene is also advisable. Ask for their contact information and request if they can provide a statement about the incident. Witness statements can serve as independent accounts of the accident and help establish liability or corroborate your version of events.
How To Recover Compensation for Your Injuries
Recovering compensation for injuries from a car crash requires establishing negligence on the part of the at-fault party. To pursue a case and seek compensation, accident victims must demonstrate that the other party failed to exercise reasonable care. In addition, they must prove that this carelessness directly caused their injuries.
Accident victims can file an auto insurance claim to recover compensation for their injuries. Reviewing your insurance policy is advisable to fully understand your coverage and rights in case of an accident.
There are various types of insurance coverage for car crashes. It includes the following:
- Liability insurance: This coverage pays for injuries and damages caused to others when you are liable for the incident.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage: This insurance policy provides protection in a crash with a driver who does not have insurance or has insufficient coverage.
- Collision coverage: This policy pays for repairs or replacement of your vehicle in case of a collision, regardless of fault.
- Comprehensive coverage: This coverage covers damages to your vehicle from non-collision incidents like vandalism, theft, or natural disasters.
Once you determine which insurance policy applies to your case, you can notify your insurance company and provide the necessary documentation. Documentation includes the police report, photos or videos of the accident scene, medical records, and other relevant evidence.
Your provider will then assign an insurance adjuster to handle your case. They will evaluate the damages and make a settlement offer to compensate for your losses.
Car accident lawsuit
Accident victims also have the option to file a lawsuit if the at-fault party’s insurance company unnecessarily delays or denies their claim. Likewise, they can pursue legal action if their negotiations for a reasonable settlement offer fail to reach a favorable outcome.
However, pursuing a lawsuit can be more expensive and time-consuming than settling with the insurance company. Civil litigation involves legal fees, court costs, and the potential for a lengthy court process that can take months or years.
Factors Affecting Compensation
Several factors can significantly influence an accident victim’s compensation. Elements, like the severity of injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage, all play a role in determining the settlement.
More importantly, jurisdiction is a crucial factor in recovering damages through an accident claim. Each state follows a unique set of laws and regulations which can influence the outcome of a car accident case.
No-fault insurance system
Some states follow a no-fault insurance system. These states require motorists to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policies.
PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs from injuries sustained in a crash. This rule applies regardless of who is at fault for the collision.
Personal Injury Protection ensures accident victims receive prompt medical treatment and financial support without going through lengthy legal proceedings. In no-fault states, each driver’s insurance company shoulders their respective policyholder’s injury-related expenses.
Some states use comparative negligence rules to allocate fault between the parties involved. This rule acknowledges that more than one party may be liable for an accident or injury. In addition, it distributes a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the incident.
States implement one of two types of comparative negligence. It can be pure or modified comparative negligence.
Pure comparative negligence allows accident victims to claim damages regardless of how much fault they contributed to the incident. For instance, the court determines the plaintiff to be 35 percent at fault for the collision. They can still recover 65 percent of the damages for their losses.
On the other hand, modified comparative negligence caps the maximum percentage of fault the plaintiff can possess. Accident victims must not exceed 50 or 51 percent of the liability to recover compensation. For example, they contributed 60 percent of the fault to the incident. They won’t be able to recover compensation for their injuries.
Did you know?
In 2021, the National Safety Council reported over 3 million crashes resulting in 5,400,000 medically consulted injuries in the US.
Avail of a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer
When seeking damages for accidents, it is crucial to understand the factors that can make or break your claim. However, without legal experience or connections, taking legal action can be overwhelming.
Navigating the legal process and maximizing your compensation requires the guidance of a skilled car accident lawyer. The Personal Injury Center works with a network of lawyers specializing in personal injury and auto accident claims. They can help you build your claim and present evidence to establish liability on the opposing party.
You can visit our website to learn more about car accident cases and how we can assist you.
Get maximum compensation for your car accident claim. Contact The Personal Injury Center to find a reliable car accident attorney.
FAQs on Being Injured in an Auto Accident
Is it expensive to engage the services of a personal injury lawyer?
Some lawyers offer a contingency fee arrangement. Meaning their fees depends on the compensation an accident victim receives. They generally take between 30 to 40 percent of the settlement amount as their legal fee.
What is the typical timeframe for receiving my settlement check?
The timeframe varies for each case. But on average, it takes a few months to several years for accident victims to receive their settlement check.
Can I file an auto insurance claim after a year from the accident?
You can file a car accident claim until six years after the accident. However, this time frame varies per state. Consulting with a lawyer is advisable to ensure you don’t miss the deadline for filing your claim.