Car Crashes which result in serious injuries can range from broken bones to bleeding gashes to muscular problems that can last for years. But what about internal injuries that are not so easily detected? Internal injuries such as concussions, internal bleeding, seatbelt force damage and even organ damage does happen. For for some crash victims, these injuries can be much harder to detect. In the immediate aftermath of any physical trauma, the adrenaline can do a good job of hiding pain.
Common Internal Injuries Following a Car Accident
These internal injuries are not uncommon after a car accident:
- Seatbelt Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Concussions and other Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Organ Damage
To be clear, it is always, always a good idea to buckle up every time you are in a car, and make sure that your passengers have their seatbelts fastened. The risk of suffering any kind of a seatbelt injury is far less than the risk of an even more serious injury (or death) if you do not wear a seatbelt. In Illinois, the law is that all front seat passengers must wear a seatbelt. Even if you are only going to be driving a very short distance, wear your seatbelt!
Seat belt injuries, also known as seatbelt syndrome, happens sometimes after a car accident. Most often, these injuries come in the form of bruising on the chest. Chest bruising usually clears up faster than other injuries. But sometimes the force of the seatbelt doing its job, preventing you from flying through a windshield, might crack a rib. The pain from a cracked rib can last for months. Sometimes, the sternum will be affected. This is the bone in the middle of your chest that attaches to ribs. Since the sternum is so close to your lungs and heart, you should seek medical attention if you have a sore chest, to rule out complications beyond bruising. Car crashes can also result in soft tissue injuries in the abdomen and shoulder area, near where you were wearing a seatbelt.
Internal bleeding after a car accident can happen in different ways. Sometimes just the sheer force of the crash will throw the body against part of the interior of the car (steering wheel, console, etc). This can rupture blood vessels. Other times, a broken bone can poke through an artery and cause blood to leak into the body. Internal bleeding might not be immediately apparent. There are many signs of internal bleeding which can include:
- Temperature changes such as feeling cold or going pale
- Blood in the urine
- Vomiting blood
- Abdominal pain
- Low Blood Pressure or Fainting
The best way to know if you have internal bleeding is to stop guessing and get checked out. If you suspect internal bleeding, the emergency room is often your best bet.
Concussions and other Traumatic Brain Injuries
Concussions are in the family of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI’s. Concussions are essentially a bruise to the brain. They act cumulatively, meaning that one prior concussion will ‘build on’ the next one. Other brain injuries that people suffer in a car accident include skull fractures, nerve damage and broken blood vessels.
Traumatic brain injuries in a crash can happen when the head is jolted. Sometimes they are the result of the head hitting the steering wheel or dashboard. Car accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. If you suspect any kind of a head injury, it should be taken very seriously by seeking immediate medical attention. Some of the more common symptoms can include:
- Memory and attention deficits
- Vision changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
Doctors can run diagnostic tests such as an MRI or CT scan to rule out other medical conditions. Test results often show up as normal, even in the presence of a traumatic brain injury. This “normal” imaging can confirm that your symptoms are likely the result of a TBI and not something else like a tumor. It will also rule out a skull fracture. A concussion from a car accident will not show up on imaging with most of today’s technology. But it does not mean that the injury is not there, as the auto insurance company wants us to believe. Doctors will generally diagnose TBI’s based on a medical history and current symptoms. It is especially important to tell the doctor that you were in a car accident and explain how the accident happened. This will help your medical team make sense of your symptoms. Once a doctor has the context surrounding your symptoms, they can more confidently link your injury to the accident.
Making sure you are Okay after a Car Accident
You should seek medical attention after an accident because internal injuries are often delayed. It can be hard to recognize symptoms, so being checked by a doctor after an accident can lead to faster diagnosis and more effective treatments for serious injuries. Also, you should see a doctor if you’ve experienced an accident because these types of injuries often require rehabilitation. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you can start to feel better.
Proving Internal Injuries to the Insurance Company
Insurance Companies are going to give you a hard time no matter what. Crash victims with internal injuries often face even greater frustrations. Remember, it is the job of insurance adjusters to save the company money by not paying out claims, or paying as little as they think that they can get away with.
When people suffer a head injury in a car accident, for instance, adjusters come up with all kinds of excuses not to pay. This is because headaches are subjective. In other words, if it can’t be seen on an x-ray or in a photograph, they will always say that it can’t be that bad or should not have lasted for so long. They may even try to say that the headaches were not related to the accident. This is why it is important to give a full description of your symptoms to the doctor and not ignore what you are feeling.
Proper medical documentation is always important. Your personal injury attorney will understand how to best present the facts to the insurance company, to make them understand that your internal injuries were in fact a result of the accident. This element of proving a link between your injury and the accident, known as proximate cause, is necessary if you are to recover even a dime. We have had internal injury cases before and understand how to present them as part of your legal case.
Steps to Take after Suffering Internal Injuries in a Car Crash
The possibility of having internal injuries after a car accident should not be taken lightly. Play it safe and get checked out. Tell your doctor everything that you are experiencing and also provide details about your accident. This will help the medical professionals piece everything together in order to provide you with the best treatment. As always, follow doctors orders.
Be extremely careful when dealing with insurance adjusters. It is best to talk to a personal injury attorney near you if you were hurt and if the accident was not your fault. This conversation should happen before you speak to the other driver’s insurance company and certainly before you sign anything! Speaking to us about your injuries is free and we make it easy to set up a phone call so that you can gain a better understanding of what you may be up against and what your legal options are. Our office is located on McLean Blvd. in Elgin. We can meet with you over zoom, over the phone, or in person. Give us a call today at 630 250-8813.