Drivers and passengers suffer many different types of injuries. In the worst cases, the car occupants die. In severe cases, victims may suffer catastrophic injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or a in injury to their spine. Spinal cord damage may result in partial or full paralysis. Catastrophic injuries can change the quality of accident victim’s life forever. Many victims suffer broken bones, nerve damage, cuts from windshield glass, and burns. Some victims suffer amputations, disfigurement, and scarring.
Most injuries are due to the car driver or passenger being thrown around the vehicle. Occupants may strike the windshield, the dashboard, or the steering wheel. Many car crash victims collide with other car passengers. Some victims are thrown from the vehicle. Occupants may also be hurt when their air bag inflates.
Depending on what type of injuries the driver or passenger suffered, victims need to get medical help from many different types of doctors. North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyer Joe Miller works with the following type of physicians:
- Neurosurgeons and neurologists
- General surgeons
- Orthopedic doctors
- Physical therapists
- Pain management doctors
- Occupational therapists
- Nurse Practitioners
- Physician’s Assistants
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Doctors
- Your family Doctor
- Many other medical specialists
Some patients may need a medical device such as a prosthetic or wheelchair. Most car accident victims need to take prescription medications
Two common types of injuries are internal damage and whiplash.
Victims who suffer or think they might have internal damage are usually transported by ambulance or by emergency medical care to the closest emergency room. There, the doctors will conduct a battery of imaging tests, a physical exam, and an oral exam to help make a medical diagnosis.
Examples of internal injuries include:
- Broken ribs. Broken ribs often take months to heal. The pain is often unbearable. Sometimes, the broken ribs don’t heal 100% leaving the victim in a lot of chronic pain. If ribs are injured, it’s also likely that internal organs such as kidneys, lungs, and the spleen may be damaged.
- An abdominal aorta aneurysm. This type of rupture is extremely dangerous and often deadly.
- Internal bleeding. Doctors should be on the lookout for this condition. While external bleeding is fairly easy to spot (just look for the red blood), internal bleeding requires a more thorough examination. Internal bleeding can affect the head, brain, spine, heart, abdomen, joints, and muscles. Some of the ways physicians look for internal bleeding are by conducting CT-scans, blood tests, an ultrasound, or an angiography. Symptoms doctors look for are lightheadedness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, blood clots, and examining your urine for signs of blood. Internal bleeding can also affect tissues and organs. Internal bleeding occurs when damage to a vein or artery causes the blood to leak into other parts of the car accident victim’s body
- Organ damage. If the kidney, lungs, or other internal organs fail to function, surgery may be required. Extensive organ damage, particularly to the liver, is often fatal.
- A ruptured spleen. Doctors normally need to repair a ruptured spleen by performing a surgery. Internal bleeding usually accompanies a ruptured spleen.
- Pneumothorax. This is a fancy way of saying you have a collapsed lung. It occurs when air gets into part of area between the lung and the chest wall. It often requires surgery to correct the damage.
Many patients with internal injuries often have to cope with internal bruises.
Most whiplash injuries occur when a front car is struck in the rear by a distracted or careless driver. It is often made fun of comedically in TV sketches; however, it can actually be a serious, and in some instances, permanent injury. Whiplash involves a tearing of the muscles and ligaments that surround the cervical spine.
The symptoms of a whiplash can take a day or few days to appear. So, anyone in a rear-end collision should avoid saying they feel fine until they’ve waited to see if they do have a whiplash. Most often, you will feel it when you wake up the next day. Common symptoms include:
- A stiff neck
- Reduce range of motion
- Neck pain
- Back pain and shoulder pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Difficulty seeing
- Ear ringing
A whiplash injury happens when the neck and head suddenly move backwards and then forward. (Hyperextension). This unusual motion puts a great deal of stress on the cervical/neck spine. Some car accident whiplash victims may even lose their memory due to the brain being slammed up against the interior of the skull. Whiplash injuries damage the muscles, discs, nerves, joints, and bones around the neck.
Physicians will conduct an oral exam and a physical examination. In addition to listening to you explain your symptoms, the doctor will feel or palpate your neck to see if there is muscle spasm. The doctor will see if anything isn’t aligned properly and determine your range of motion. The doctors may analyze your reflexes and how strong or weak your neck muscles and nerves exiting the spinal column in that area are.
Imaging tests include CT scans, MRI exams, and X-Rays – especially if they suspect a fracture. Whiplash injuries are graded depending on their severity. One of the most common effects of whiplash is a straightening of the spine or cervical lordosis. This can actually be seen on X-ray, and in some cases, digital motion x-ray. This happens when the muscle spasm is so severe it pulls the neck out of it’s normal curvature, and into a straight, “beanpole” configuration, where there is no curvature at all.
Self-help whiplash treatments include:
- Heat and ice treatments
- Over-the-counter medications such as Motrin, Advil, and Tylenol
Cervical collars used to be a standard recommendation for whiplash but now there is some thought that these collars may actually weaken neck muscles.
Doctors may recommend the following treatments:
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Radiofrequency neurotomy
Most patients with just whiplash return to reasonably normal lives in a few months. In severe cases, some car accident victims may have a lifetime of chronic pain due to the scar tissue left over from the whiplash. Older victims usually have a more difficult time fully recovering than younger victims because the tissue is not as resilient. Women are also more prone to long-term whiplash damage than men.
Make the call to an experienced North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyer
Both North Carolina and Virginia are fault-car accident states. This means injured victims need to prove that another driver or another responsible party caused your injuries. Victims who can prove fault are entitled to payment of their reasonable medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Proving fault and getting a just recovery requires the help of a respected lawyer. And of course, we know car accidents also occur while people are ‘on-the-clock’ for their employer. Because we also specialize in workers compensation in both Virginia and North Carolina, we can help with that portion of your claim as well. Joe Miller Esq. has been helping injury victims get justice for more than 30 years. To arrange a free consultation, please phone (888) 694-1671 or fill out my contact form.