When you were involved in the accident, everything happened so fast. The seatbelt tightened around your neck, chest, and abdomen. The airbag may have violently deployed. Your head lunged forward into the airbag, steering wheel, or windshield and back against the head rest. Your body whipped around inside the vehicle.
You were probably transported to the nearest emergency room; or you went home thinking you were okay only to visit the emergency room later that day when the pain became unbearable; or you tried to sweat it out, hoping the pain would go away in a couple of days only to realize that you had no choice but to visit your family doctor later that week. Nonetheless, you’ve suffered some kind of injury, be it minor or major.
Minor v. Major Injury
Most accidents result in minor injuries. Minor injuries include a bruised face or arm, a cut to the face, a sprained neck, back spasms, a hurt knee that hit the driver door, or a sprained finger that was pushed into the dashboard.
Other accidents lead to much more serious injury or major injury. These types of injuries involve a fractured finger, arm, or hand, a herniated disc, brain injury, disfigurement, permanent injury, or becoming confined to a wheelchair for several years or for the duration of your life.
It is important to note that not all injuries, both minor and major, are obvious immediately. When the body is exposed to trauma, it releases hormones, known as endorphins, that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins may initially mask an injury until their soothing effect wears off over the course of sometimes several days. Endorphins may actually even exacerbate injuries because their soothing and masking effect may cause an injured person to delay seeking treatment where he/she would have otherwise sought treatment to minimize injury.
Face Injuries – Face injuries are very common in accidents and they range from simple scrapes and bruises to more serious lacerations, fractures, and dental injuries. They can be caused by almost anything, including a deployed airbag, steering wheel, side window, windshield, or dashboard
Brain and Head Injuries – Closed head injury, ranging from a mild concussion to traumatic brain injury is one of the most common injuries sustained by both drivers and passengers in an accident. The impact of a crash, involving at least 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of metal, can cause the brain to be jostled inside the skull, which may or may not lead to physical signs of trauma.
Neck Injuries – Neck injuries are another common type of injury that result from accidents. Neck injuries can be mild and can include a simple neck strain or whiplash that may resolve with some physical therapy and medications. Neck injuries can also be severe and include disc injury or radiculopathy in the neck region that may require pain management or surgery.
Back Injuries – Another common type of injury that results from accidents is back injury. Back injuries can be mild to very severe. Back injuries can occur in the thoracic region (middle) and lumbar region (lower). Some back injuries last a lifetime and require lifelong treatment.
Other Physical Injuries – An accident can cause injury to any other part of the body. The force of a deploying airbag or the violent tightening of a seatbelt can cause bruising and severe pain in one’s chest. A finger or forearm injury can result from holding onto the steering wheel as you brace of an accident. A host of other physical injuries can result from accidents.
Psychological Injuries – Accidents can also lead to psychological injuries in addition to physical injuries. These psychological injuries include emotional distress, fear, grief, and even post-traumatic stress disorder, especially after an accident that resulted in someone’s death.