Dallas Car Accidents: Common Injuries Caused in Car Wrecks
When you or a loved one is harmed in a car accident, it helps to work with a law firm that truly understands the nature of your injuries. At Tate Law Offices, our attorneys have that insight, which comes from many years of representing auto accident victims in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and cities throughout Texas.
Because of our background, we know how crashes cause certain types of injuries. We also know the medical treatment and rehabilitation those injuries typically require. Above all, we have seen first-hand how car accident injuries can impact the lives of victims and their families.
With this knowledge, our attorneys are well-positioned to investigate your case, file a claim on your behalf and aggressively pursue the medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages you are due – whether it is through a settlement or judgment.
Please review the following information about common car accident injuries and how those injuries should factor into settlement considerations.
To learn more, call or submit our contact form today. We will provide a free consultation, and we won’t charge for our legal services unless you obtain a financial recovery in your case.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Expensive and Common After Motor Vehicle Accidents
We put this car accident injury first because it is not only one of the most common injuries that victims suffer in auto accidents – it can also be one of the most damaging.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a sudden, violent shaking of the head, which causes the brain to move within the skull. It also occurs when one’s head strikes an object hard or when it is struck or penetrated by an object.
In a car accident caused by another driver, you or your loved one may suffer this injury from the force of impact, flying debris or being slammed into the dashboard, windshield or ground. The injury, in this sense, is a direct result of the other person’s negligence.
In your case, the brain injury may have been already diagnosed through an X-ray, MRI or CT scan at the hospital or through a series of other tests. You or your loved one may be facing a long road ahead depending on the type of injury and extent of damage.
As the Texas Brain Injury Alliance (TXBIA) notes, brain injuries typically fall within one of three categories: Mild, moderate or severe. They can impair a person:
- Cognitively – Problems with thinking, memorizing and communicating
- Physically – Difficulty with moving, vision problems and chronic headaches
- Emotionally – Depression and anxiety
- Behaviorally – Impulsive behavior.
If you have been involved in a crash, pay attention to signs of one especially common type of TBI – a concussion – and seek medical attention immediately if you detect these signs (if you have not already gone to a doctor):
- Loss of consciousness for any amount of time
- Headaches, dizziness and confusion
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Fatigue and/or sleep problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tingling, weakness or numbness in the arms and/or legs
- Difficulty with talking
- Ringing in the ears or blurry vision
- Changes in behavior.
A severe brain injury can require a long period of rehabilitation and may prevent a person from being able to return to his or her previous line of work or to do any other form of work again.
Whiplash – Another Common Car Accident Injury
Like a concussion, whiplash is a type of car accident injury that a victim may not be able to readily detect. However, if not addressed, it can lead to chronic pain and serious problems for the crash victim.
As the Texas Orthopedic Hospital explains, whiplash is an injury that can involve damage to ligaments, muscles and discs in the neck (cervical area) of the spine.
It occurs when one’s head is thrust forward while the body stays in place. The neck, as a result, gets snapped back-and-forth – like a whip. As you can imagine, this can occur when one is struck from behind by another car while wearing a seat belt.
You should see a physician if you observe any signs of whiplash. The Mayo Clinic reports that those signs include:
- Neck stiffness
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs
- Headaches and dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Sleep difficulties
- Trouble with bowel and bladder control.
Whiplash can result in chronic pain. For this reason, it is important to get treatment without delay. You should also seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost time at work and pain and suffering if another person’s negligence caused the injury.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is the network of nerves that runs from the base of your skull to your pelvic region. It is protected by bones called the vertebrae. In a car accident, the spinal cord is highly susceptible to injuries that can have lasting consequences.
Paralysis can occur due to fractured vertebrae and related nerve damage. It can result in partial or complete loss of sensation and function below the point of the injury.
An injury that occurs at a high point in the spinal cord can result in tetraplegia, or paralysis of the arms and legs. If the injury occurs at a lower point, it can result in paralysis of the legs, or paraplegia.
A victim typically will need around-the-clock care, a wheelchair or other assistive devices. He or she may spend years in rehabilitation and physical therapy. Multiple surgeries may be necessary to repair the damage or address complications.
The care and treatment for spinal cord damage can be extremely expensive. (The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center provides estimates of lifetime costs.)
In an auto accident, damage can also occur to the discs between the vertebrae, causing them to bulge or burst open. A victim with a bulging or herniated disc – common in the neck or lower spine – can experience long-term, debilitating pain that may require surgery to address.
In an auto accident, a victim may suffer burns from a fire, explosion or friction. The burn may have a major effect on the victim’s life and his or her family members. It will depend on the severity of the car accident injury and whether complications arise.
The University of New Mexico Hospitals provides a summary of burn classifications:
- First-degree – Affects the skin’s outer layer (epidermis) like a sun burn. Although it can be painful, it typically heals within days and leaves little, if any, scarring. Pain medication and topical treatment may be necessary.
- Second-degree – Called “partial thickness” or “full thickness” burns. The burn damages the epidermis and skin’s second layer (dermis). It may take weeks to heal. A victim may need to undergo debridement (removing damaged tissue) or a skin graft (replacing damaged tissue with healthy tissue from another part of the body).
- Third-degree – The burn penetrates all layers of the victim’s skin and may cause muscle and nerve damage. A victim will almost certainly need to undergo debridement or a skin graft.
- Fourth-degree – When the burn reaches the victim’s muscle and bone. A victim may need to undergo an amputation in order to save his or her life.
Infections, breathing difficulties and problems regulating one’s body temperature are all potentially life-threatening complications which can be caused by burns in a car accident.
A person involved in a car accident may suffer a wide range of shoulder injuries, including damage to the rotator cuff that can come from:
- Force from the seat belt
- Gripping the steering wheel at impact
- A direct blow to the shoulder.
As MedlinePlus describes, the rotator cuff is comprised of four tendons that are attached to the shoulder. These tendons make a wide range of motion possible in the shoulder by stabilizing the connection between the upper arm and shoulder.
In a car accident, these tendons may be torn or otherwise damaged. A victim may require surgery and/or extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation in order to recover.
A common injury in car accidents is “dashboard knee.” This refers to the damage that can occur when one’s bent knee is slammed into the dashboard or another object at impact. When this injury occurs, it can involve harm to the cartilage behind the kneecap, or chondromalacia.
In a crash, a person’s knee may also be twisted. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this sudden, awkward motion can result in damage to the two types of ligaments in the knee that stabilize it:
- Collateral ligaments (on the sides of the knee)
- Cruciate ligaments (inside the knee joint).
These injuries typically are referred to as ACL, MCL, LCL or PCL injuries. They can cause extreme pain and result in permanent disability. Surgery often is required.
Scarring and Disfigurement
Scarring and disfigurement may be directly caused by a car accident or may be the result of surgery or other care that is needed to treat a victim’s injuries.
For example, a victim may suffer a burn in a crash that results in scarring or may be disfigured by the need to amputate a limb with fourth-degree burns in order to save the victim’s life.
A person who has been scarred or disfigured in a crash may suffer psychological problems as well as anxiety or depression.
As one study found, plastic surgery can address some – but not all – of the psychological issues that are faced by those who have suffered facial scarring.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The National Institute of Mental Health describes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mental health disorder that arises from witnessing or living through a “shocking, scary or dangerous event” such as an auto accident.
The NIMH states that a person may be suffering from PTSD if the following symptoms persist for at least a month after a traumatic event:
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Feelings of guilt or depression
- Loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed
- Sudden emotional outbursts
- Being tense or “edgy”
- Difficulty recalling the event.
PTSD typically is treated through psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication as well.
Should You Settle Your Car Accident Lawsuit?
In the hours or days after an auto accident occurs, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will contact you. The insurer will likely offer you a settlement. We cannot emphasize this enough: Do not accept a settlement offer until you have talked with Tate Law Offices first.
Before you accept a settlement, it is crucial that you have a full understanding of the nature and extent of your car accident-related injuries and the treatment you will need in the future for those injuries. You also need to have a firm grasp of how your injuries will impact your ability to earn a living and enjoy your life, and you need to know how your family members will be affected by your injuries.
All of these factors must be considered as you determine the proper amount you should receive in a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your lawyer from Tate Law Offices can help you to evaluate these factors and work hard to seek a settlement that fully and fairly compensates you.
At Tate Law Offices, we can take several steps to maximize your potential settlement. We can:
- Investigate your car accident. We can determine why your crash occurred and how the accident caused your injuries. (By gathering and analyzing evidence, we can counter any insurance company attempts to argue that your injuries were not related to your accident.)
- Review your medical records. We can identify every injury that resulted from your accident and the severity of the injuries. We can also calculate the full amount of medical costs that you have incurred to receive treatment for those injuries.
- Consult with experts. By getting insights from knowledgeable experts, we can determine the future care and treatment you will need to address your injuries, including future surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, medication, nursing care and assistive devices you may need. We can also determine whether your accident will keep you from returning to your prior job or allow to you to work at any other job based on your age, education, training and transferrable skills.
- Make a settlement demand. After we have arrived at a figure that reflects your past and future medical expenses, lost wages and diminished future income and pain and suffering, we can submit a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company and/or file a claim with your own insurer. We can then advise you on any settlement offers you receive from an insurer.
- Go to court for you. If an insurer fails to make a reasonable settlement offer, we can go to trial to seek the amount that we believe you are due based on our investigation and consultation with experts.
Based on our experience of working with clients, we believe a settlement typically is the best way for a car accident victim to resolve his or her claim and move on with life.
However, once you accept a settlement and sign a form that releases an at-fault driver from liability, you cannot go back. So, if you discover later on that you have additional injuries or that your injuries are more severe than you first believed, you would have no ability to get compensation for those costs.
This is why you must carefully arrive at a settlement demand and, if necessary, aggressively negotiate with insurance companies before you accept a settlement offer.
In short: Accepting a settlement will not be the best way to resolve your case if it fails to justly compensate you. Our role is to help you to avoid making that mistake.
Get Help Today from Our Dallas Car Accident Lawyers
At Tate Law Offices, our lawyers can provide a free consultation at our offices in Dallas, Fort Worth or Houston. We can also speak with you over the phone or at any other location that is most convenient for you. Our goal in your case will be to work hard for you and strive for the best result possible.
Call or reach us online today to get started.