A car accident, no matter how serious, can derail your life. You may face significant financial challenges if you are unable to work as a result of your injuries. Both your injuries and the memory of the accident can also lead to psychological distress that can stay with you long after your physical injuries have healed.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it is important to know that our injury accident lawyers are here to help with your recovery. We understand that many types of serious injuries can occur in a car accident, and our firm has the experience and skills to assist our clients in obtaining the compensation and support they deserve from the TAC.
Please call Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in Melbourne and all of Victoria.
Physical Injuries in Car Accidents
For auto manufacturers, crashworthiness is a key consideration when designing a vehicle. Engineers take into account the force of collisions at different speeds to determine how cars, trucks, vans, etc. can resist and diffuse the impact of an accident.
Although the crashworthiness of cars and other vehicles has improved over time, the ability of the human body to withstand crashes is still quite poor. Even relatively slow-speed accidents (25-35 kph) can result in serious injuries to the drivers and occupants of the vehicles involved.
The TAC is well aware of these risks of injuries, and released a Meet Graham campaign years ago to educate the community of the difficulties faced by any human body in a car crash.
The physiology of the human body is simply not able to manage the forces involved in a car crash, and that makes us susceptible to a wide range of injuries in an accident, including:
Head & Brain Injuries
Accident victims may suffer injury to the head and face due to the force of the airbag when it deploys, or from impact with the steering wheel or the interior of the car. Common facial injuries in car accidents include:
- A fractured skull (generally refers to fractures of the frontal, parietal, temporal, or sphenoid bones in the top of the head)
- A broken nose (generally refers to the nasal bridge)
- Fractures of the cheekbone (zygomatic bone)
- Fractures of the orbital (broken bones in the eye socket)
- Broken or dislodged teeth
- A broken jaw (generally this refers to the mandible, or lower jaw, although the maxilla, or upper jaw, may be fractured in an accident as well)
- Damage to the temporomandibular joint, which regulates the function of the jaw
- Damage to the bones and other structures in the inner ear
Road accidents are also a leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Victoria. Brain injuries that may occur in car accidents include:
- Concussions: Though often considered a “mild” TBI, developing research shows that repeated concussions through car accidents, sports injuries, and other causes can result in cumulative trauma to the brain. Therefore, a concussion should always be taken seriously.
- Bruising of the brain: A contusion of the brain can range in severity depending on the force of the impact and the location of the injury. One of the possible complications of a brain contusion is swelling, which can become a medical emergency without monitoring and timely treatment.
- Coup-contrecoup injury: French for “blow-counter-blow,” a contrecoup injury occurs when the brain is forced to the front of the skull and then rapidly to the back. It is a common brain injury in rear-end and head-on accidents.
- Diffuse axonal injury: Axons are nerve fibers that extend out from neurons. In a car accident, sudden motion of the head can push the brain in different directions inside the skull. This motion can damage the axons of neurons in the brain, typically resulting in a loss of consciousness.
- Open head injury: To this point we have focused on closed head injuries, or brain injury without penetration of the skull. If an object pierces the skull during an accident, serious brain trauma is all but guaranteed.
Face and head injury carry serious complications and often require extensive rehabilitation. In some cases, the victim may never regain normal function.
Neck, Back, & Spinal Cord Injuries
The neck and back (including the spine) are also highly vulnerable to injury in a car accident. Some of the injuries to these areas that may occur in a vehicle collision include:
- Whiplash: Car accidents are a leading cause of whiplash, an injury where tendons and muscles in the neck are hyperextended due to the abrupt backward and forward movement of the head in a crash.
- Broken neck: Also known as a cervical fracture, the force of a car accident can break one or more of the vertebrae in the neck.
- Disc injuries: Discs are the soft tissue that appear in between vertebrae in the neck and back. Discs may slip or become herniated due to a car accident, potentially resulting in loss of feeling and/or function as well as pinching nerves in the area around the spine.
- Broken back: A broken back generally consists of a fracture to one or more of the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae.
- Spinal cord injury: Injury to the spinal cord can significantly limit bodily function and mobility, up to an including partial paralysis (paraplegia) or complete paralysis (tetraplegia)
Some back and neck injuries can result in chronic pain. Others, such as a spinal cord injury, can result in permanent disability that impacts your ability to earn a living and enjoy life as you did before the accident.
We have already discussed the impact of fractures of the face and head, neck, and back. However, these are not the only areas of the body where broken bones can occur in a car accident.
Common bone fractures that occur in car accidents include:
- Broken ribs and sternum
- Broken collarbone (clavicle)
- Broken wrists
- Broken arms
- Pelvis fracture
- Broken hip (fracture of the upper femur)
- Fractures of bones in the lower leg (tibia and fibula)
Traumatic injuries in an accident can also affect soft tissue such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as nerves. Depending on the severity, orthopaedic injuries often involve a long recovery and ongoing physical therapy to restore function.
One of the most serious complications of blunt force trauma or a bone fracture in an accident is secondary damage to internal organs. In addition to internal bleeding, injury to one or more organs can disrupt bodily processes that are essential to life.
Accident injuries that involve the internal organs include:
- Punctured or collapsed lungs
- Contusions and lacerations of the liver
- Damage to the kidneys
- Rupture of the spleen
- Compression or trauma of the stomach and/or bowel
Despite the seriousness of these injuries, symptoms may not materialise until hours or days after the accident. For this reason, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible in order to detect possible internal damage.
Burns are difficult and time-consuming to treat. They may affect a small, localized area, or they can stretch along multiple sections of skin.
Removal of burned skin and other tissue (a process known as debridement) is essential for reducing the risk of infection. Skin grafts are often necessary to repair and replace damaged skin. Third- and fourth-degree burns penetrate all of the layers of the skin, affecting other internal tissues as well.
In addition to the extensive physical damage, burns have a major psychological component. The memory of the accident is a consistent source of distress, and the pain and scarring of the injury are ongoing reminders of what you lost in the accident.
Psychological Injuries in Car Accidents
Injuries in an accident are not confined to the body. Depending on the circumstances of the collision and the injuries you sustained, you may face a number of psychological issues such as:
Persistently feeling stressed or anxious is a common occurrence after a car accident. You may suffer from intrusive memories of the accident multiple times a day, affecting your everyday life. You may be afraid to start driving again, or experience hypervigilance behind the wheel. Anxiety may also lead to sleep disturbances.
Depression after an accident may occur for a number of reasons:
- You experience chronic pain
- You struggle with the length of recovery for your injuries
- You suffer long-term or permanent impairment
- You relive traumatic memories of the accident in your mind
- You witnessed someone else get seriously injured or die in the accident
Without proper treatment, depression can affect your personal and professional relationships. It can also significantly impair your quality and enjoyment of life.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression also occur with PTSD. In extreme instances, PTSD can lead to self-isolating behaviour, violent outbursts, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
How Our Injury Accident Lawyers Can Help
At Henry Carus + Associates, we believe that You Deserve More. If you have been injured in an accident, you deserve the full compensation and ongoing support you are entitled to by law.
After an accident, your first step toward being fairly compensated is lodging a TAC road accident claim. Our lawyers can help you navigate the process of applying for TAC no-fault benefits, which can unfortunately present a number of obstacles to injured people.
You may also be entitled to common-law compensation if you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. You must meet the threshold for a serious injury as defined by law. Being granted a serious injury certificate by the TAC is often an arduous process.
Lawyers at Henry Carus + Associates have the experience to advocate for all of the benefits and compensation you deserve. Our knowledge of Victoria compensation law is unparalleled, and we have a 98% success rate in resolving claims in our clients’ favour.
Contact Henry Carus + Associates Today
If you have been injured in a car accident or other transport collision, our injury accident lawyers can help. Please call 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Our lawyers pledge to provide your claim with the time, attention, and care it requires, as well as the hands-on service you deserve in this trying time. We serve clients throughout the greater Melbourne area and all of Victoria.