Motor vehicle accidents may be a familiar sight, especially in a populated city like Las Vegas. But when it is you or a loved one who is involved in a crash, the experience is anything but ordinary or standard.
While the circumstances of your wreck may be unique, chances are that if you do sustain car accident injuries, they will fall into one of several commonly-encountered categories.
What are the risks of injuries?
There are several factors that can affect whether your car crash results in injuries. The Federal Highway Administration data shows that a crash at approximately 40 miles per hour carries a one-in-five chance of someone involved dying.
Besides the risk of injuries rising with the speed of the vehicles involved, the presence of other factors, such as the type of collision and seat belt use also contribute to the risk.
There are no ways to guarantee you will escape every crash without experiencing injuries. However, educating yourself as to the common ways people are hurt in wrecks and how to minimize the risk of auto injuries can improve the likelihood that you will remain safe on the road.
Deaths from Car Accidents in Nevada
A number of resources that track auto accident statistics focus on the number of deaths and serious injuries resulting from car wrecks. Zero Fatality Nevada and the Nevada Department of Transportation are two such resources.
According to data from the Nevada Department of Transportation, there has been a downward trend in the number of fatal car wrecks in Nevada in recent years.
Available statistics show that in 2018, there were 299 fatality crashes, most occurring in August and September (32 and 34, respectively). The next year, in 2019, the number of reported fatal crashes fell to 267. The months with the highest number of fatal crashes that year also changed to May (25), November (25), and December (28).
A Corresponding Drop
The data also shows a corresponding drop in the total fatalities between 2018 and 2019. In 2018, there were 329 deaths on Nevada roads. In August, there were 36 fatalities, and there were 37 in September.
By 2019, the total fatalities had dropped to 284, with 25 occurring in May, 29 in November, and 34 in December.
But just because a traffic accident does not result in a fatality does not mean there is no risk of a car accident injury. If the circumstances of an accident create the risk of death, the risk of car crash injuries also exists. Some of the common injuries you might expect from a car accident include the following:
- Head Injuries
The head injury most commonly encountered in a car wreck is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In a TBI, the brain suffers trauma, either with or without the presence of external, visible injuries. While minor traumatic brain injuries may heal with minimal complications, severe head trauma can cause lifelong cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues.
A concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury frequently encountered in auto accidents. These TBIs can result from hitting your head on the steering wheel, your dashboard, or any other hard surface during a crash. Blacking out, nausea and vomiting, and dizziness are some of the immediate symptoms of a concussion.
“Whiplash” is another form of TBI that can occur in a crash. In car wrecks, the head and neck can be forced in a rapid back-and-forth or side-to-side motion. The brain sustains damage as it shifts violently within the skull.
- Back Injuries
You may believe that being belted into your seat protects your back from injury. While a broken back may not be common, muscle strains and sprains are frequently encountered after car accidents.
These painful injuries occur because traumatic forces travel through your seat to your back muscles. A sprain or strain can limit your range of motion and make sitting, standing, or walking uncomfortable.
In a more serious car accident, you may sustain a bulging disc, which occurs when trauma forces one or more of the discs cushioning your individual vertebrae to shift out of place and “bulge” from the side of your spine.
Pain or tingling that radiates from your back to your arms or legs is usually a telltale sign of a bulging disc. You may also notice weakness in your extremities. Bulging discs that do not heal themselves may require chiropractic or medical care.
- Neck Injuries
Whiplash can affect both your brain and your neck muscles and vertebrae. The back-and-forth motion can also stress, strain, and tear the muscles of your neck. When you sprain or strain your neck, you may feel “stiff” and have difficulty turning your head to one side or the other.
Vertebrae and spinal discs are also present in your neck, so you are also at risk of a bulging or herniated neck disc in the event of a traumatic car accident. Just as with herniated discs in your back, a herniated disc in your neck can cause tingling and pain throughout your body.
Treatment for neck injuries also mimics the treatment for back injuries. Sprains and strains may heal on their own with rest and at-home treatment. A bulging disc or more severe neck injuries will likely require treatment from a chiropractor or neck and back specialist.
You may think that burn injuries can only occur if your vehicle catches fire in a crash and you cannot escape quickly. While you can suffer serious thermal burns in this situation, there are other ways you can be burned in a car wreck.
If you crash into a car or truck transporting hazardous chemicals, and these chemicals come into contact with your skin, you can suffer chemical burns. Chemical burns can be just as damaging as burns from a fire.
Electrical burns are also a hazard after a car accident. Your car contains approximately 40 pounds of copper wiring dedicated to electrical purposes. In the event of a crash, these electrical systems and wiring can be damaged and give off sparks. Even small sparks are capable of inflicting a painful electrical burn.
You may also notice burns when airbags deploy especially on your arms, face, and other exposed areas of your body. Usually these types of burns are not electrical, but rather chemical burns stemming from the release of chemicals that are normally housed within the airbag during the deployment of the airbag. When an accident occurs and the airbag deploys, an airbag will typically release sodium azide and sodium hydroxide.
- Internal Injuries
Your body is subject to tremendous forces in a crash, but these forces do not always result in external, visible injuries. Sometimes, the trauma is internalized, damaging your vital organs and tissues. Even though you may not be able to see these injuries with the naked eye, they can cause serious health complications.
The first signs of internal injuries may be confusing to you. You may experience nausea or vomiting or unspecified pain in your chest or abdomen. You may feel dull aches or sharp pains but not see any obvious cause.
If you are involved in a car wreck and find yourself suffering these symptoms, there is a reasonable probability that you may have an internal injury. You will likely need to have one or more medical images taken to ascertain the extent of the damage before you can begin treatment.
- Loss of Limb
In a crash, there may be broken glass, jagged metal, and parts of the car that crumble. These circumstances present a particular risk to your extremities like your fingers, hands, arms, legs, and feet. Fingers can be partially or completely severed by a broken windshield or a sharp piece of exposed metal.
Similarly, your foot may be crushed if the car crumples onto it in a crash. In an extreme situation, first responders may need to sever your foot at the scene to release you from the vehicle. Or if the damage to your foot is severe, medical personnel at the hospital may recommend removing your foot.
These injuries may not be life-threatening, but they can be emotionally and mentally traumatic, lead to depression, and negatively affect your ability to fully enjoy your life.
- Mental and Emotional Injuries
Some of the mental and emotional trauma you sustain after a car wreck can be as impairing as broken bones and concussions. The suddenness of a car wreck can shake your sense of safety on the road and while in vehicles.
If your injuries were life-threatening, this could exacerbate your mental injuries. You may feel anxious, depressed, or hopeless following a car accident.
To minimize the impact of these mental and emotional injuries, it is helpful to speak with a counselor or therapist about your accident. If you notice that you cannot sleep, are having trouble concentrating, or if others are noticing a change in your mood after a wreck, it is time to make an appointment and speak with a mental health professional.
While mental and emotional injuries may be impossible to prevent, taking them seriously and addressing them promptly can keep them from becoming debilitating.
- Broken Bones
The forces and trauma involved in a car wreck can cause partial fractures or complete breaks to your bones, especially to arms and legs that become caught or twisted in the wreckage.
Holding on to a steering wheel at the time of the crash can send traumatic force through the wheel to your wrists and lower arm bones, causing them to fracture.
Most broken bones need to be set and immobilized by a medical provider to heal. Partial fractures may take several weeks to fully heal, while complete breaks can take significantly longer. While your bone is healing, you may have limited use of the limb or no use at all.
Depending on the severity of the break, you may need to have surgery to insert hardware near the broken bone to stabilize it. These surgeries can be expensive, painful, and prolong your recovery period.
- Leg Injuries
While driving, you are in a seated position with your legs bent. In a forceful crash, your car’s dash and front end can crumple against your lower legs and knees, leading to complete or partial fractures in your lower legs. More serious car crashes, like rollovers, can generate enough force to fracture your upper legs.
Broken bones and bruising are the most common car accident injuries inflicted on the legs. These can immobilize you or severely restrict your mobility while they heal. Breaks in the femur, the upper leg bone, can require the surgical insertion of screws and other devices to stabilize the leg while it heals and even afterward.
- Foot Injuries
Just as your legs are exposed to danger in a car accident, so are your feet. Depending on the shoes you are wearing, your feet may be slightly protected against cuts. However, they can still be crushed or twisted in a crash.
Your feet may get stuck behind the pedals and twisted, causing a fracture. Or the dashboard may crumple onto your feet, pinning them and leading to a loss of limb.
The feet are made up of many small bones, so a foot injury is often complicated and does not heal quickly. You will likely be placed in a boot or on crutches to promote your foot’s healing.
How to Avoid Auto Accident Injuries
One of the most effective ways to avoid an auto accident injury is to reduce your chances of being in an accident in the first place. You accomplish this by following safe driving practices, which include:
- Not driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Obeying all traffic laws, including the speed limit, and using your turn signal
- Leaving plenty of space between you and the cars in front of you
- Taking your time and driving slower at night and in inclement weather
- Making sure to keep your vehicle and tires in good repair
- Not using your cell phone while driving and minimizing other distractions
Beyond this, you should always wear your seat belt and insist that your passengers do, too. While you can still sustain injuries while wearing your seat belt, it reduces the chances of being severely or fatally injured.
Last, you should seek medical attention after a crash if you suspect you have suffered more than a minor car injury. Some common injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and internal injuries, can quickly worsen if they are not promptly diagnosed and treated.
How Compensation Is Determined for Car Accident Injuries
If you have injuries from a car crash caused by another driver’s careless acts, you have the right to pursue financial compensation. Such compensation is usually paid through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Any compensation you get through a claim, a settlement, or a verdict is intended to reimburse you for your past and future expenses.
In deciding how much compensation you need, consider your out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills, hospital stays, and future treatment needs. If you were taken from the scene of the crash by an ambulance or helicopter, that expense could also be part of your compensation award.
Also, consider whether you suffered mental or emotional injuries and require counseling or therapy to address them.
Next, consider your lost wages. Take your hourly wage or salary and apply it to the number of hours or days you missed because of your crash. For example, if you are paid 20 dollars per hour and missed three weeks of work, you would want to seek at least $2,400 in additional damages for those missed hours.
You can also pursue compensation for your pain and suffering through a lawsuit. This would get added to the other losses and expenses for which you are seeking compensation.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident in Las Vegas? Call Bay Law Accident Attorneys today!
No matter the circumstances of your wreck or the nature of your car accident injuries, Bay Law Accident Attorneys is ready and able to help. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a crash because of another driver, we want to help you assert your right to compensation.
We are committed to helping you recover by obtaining financial damages for the harm you or your loved one sustained. Get started by contacting Bay Law today for help with your case.