Seven Car Accident Injuries with Long-Term Effects

What you will learn about in this article:

  • Common long-term injuries that can result from motor vehicle accidents and how each one can cause lifelong effects.
  • Any car accident is traumatic, and any injury can be painful and expensive. However, many serious injuries cause long-term effects that can literally be life-changing. When this happens, it is especially important to work with an attorney who will be able to anticipate your future medical needs and who has experience going up against insurance companies who try to settle for inadequate amounts.
  • Each year, approximately 2 million people are permanently injured in traffic accidents in the United States.
  • In 2019, 217,396 collisions occurred in Indiana, killing 739 and injuring 31,194 people, many of them seriously.

Typical injuries with long-term effects fall into the following categories:

1.  Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is exactly what it sounds like: a serious brain injury that is the result of trauma to the head. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes account for 20% of hospitalizations for TBI each year. Often in a car crash, the head can be whipped back and forth violently, cursing the brain to slam into the skull. This can stretch or destroy neuronal axons (nerve fibers). These nerve fibers are responsible for carrying information between areas of the brain and also between the brain and the rest of the body, so effects are severe.

Mild symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Dizziness

According to the CDC, severe symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Difficulty in learning or retaining information
  • Communication problems
  • Personality changes
  • Problems with hearing, vision, or perception
  • Weakness and coordination issues
  • Mood changes

In addition, the prognosis is grim for those with severe TBIs. For those who survive 5 years past the injury, 57% are considered to be moderately or severely disabled.

  • Besides a change in the quality of life, a TBI can be extremely costly. As you can imagine, it is difficult to continue working when one is coping with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. 55% of those surviving 5 years past their injury are unable to work.
  • Others need to return to the hospital at least once, suffer from seizures, fight depression, use illicit drugs or alcohol, or need to live in nursing homes for help with daily activities.

2.  Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury is damage to any part of the spinal cord. It can result in paralysis of the region(s) below the injury. As well as being a tragedy for all concerned, spinal cord injuries have extremely high medical costs, but also additional costs that many forget to factor in. For example:

  • When all 4 limbs are paralyzed, (this is paralysis below the neck and is called either tetraplegia or quadriplegia) the first year of medical expenses cost an average of $1.079 million.
  • According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), each subsequent year of care can cost at least $185,110.
  • Those with spinal cord injuries suffer from loss of income: One year after the injury, only 11.7% are still employed, and 20 years after the injury, that number has still only increased to 35.2%. 
  • Patients with spinal cord injuries need rehabilitation, physical therapy, caretakers, and adaptive equipment, including transportation and wheelchair-friendly homes.

3.  Neck and Back Injuries

  • More than 800,000 cases of neck injuries occur in the United States each year as a result of traffic accidents.
  • Motor vehicle accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, can result in whiplash, ligament or nerve damage, or even herniated discs or vertebral dislocations.
  • Although many soft tissue injuries heal in weeks or months, others can cause decades of chronic pain.
  • Back injuries can include damage to the thoracic spine (upper back region), lumbar spine (lower back region), or a herniated disc at any point in the spine. Symptoms can include weakness, numbness, tingling, and unrelenting pain.
  • One study showed that lower back pain was reported a full year later in at least 31% of those who had been injured in a motor vehicle collision.

4.  Mental Health Injuries

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a collection of symptoms caused by witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle accident. Sufferers may experience symptoms close to the time of the accident or may find that they experience issues years later. Symptoms vary, but tend to fall into 4 categories:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Avoidance of thinking or talking about the accident (and avoidance of anything that triggers memories of the accident)
  • Negative mood changes
  • Self-destructive behavior (such as substance abuse or risk-taking)

5.  Loss of limb

In traumatic motor vehicle accidents, fingers, toes, or even arms and legs can be severed or injured to the point where a surgical amputation is necessary in order to save a life.

  • 507 people lose a limb each day in the United States
  • 45% of all limb loss is due to trauma, such as car accidents
  • Limb loss can have psychological as well as physical effects: 36% of those who have lost a limb experience depression.
  • Along with medical and rehabilitation costs, patients often need to pay for assistive devices or costly prosthetics.

6.  Chronic pain

Chronic pain affects 20.4% of adults in the U.S., including 7.4% whose pain affected their ability to work and function on a day-to-day basis.

Even in minor collisions, patients can damage ligaments and nerves that can develop scar tissue and cause pain and loss of mobility.

A CDC study reported that regionalized pain after a motor vehicle collision could develop into generalized chronic pain in the months and years after an accident.

7.  Loss of sight

Motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of eye injuries in the U.S.

The damage can occur in several ways:

  • A car occupant may slam into the side of the car’s interior or be hit by a projectile.
  • Glass from mirrors or windows can lodge in the eye.
  • Airbags can often injure eyes when they inflate with forces of up to 200 mph. (However, they do reduce 29% of driver fatalities and 32% of front seat occupant fatalities, according to the NTSA.)
  • Car occupants who are ejected from the vehicle can easily injure their eyes due to blunt force trauma.

The personal injury lawyers of Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery will assist you in dealing with the consequences of car accident injury with long-term effects by taking forceful and targeted legal action.

If a defendant refuses to negotiate a fair and just settlement, our PBAR team is prepared and ready to take the matter before a jury to protect your legal rights and your best interests. If you have sustained a catastrophic personal injury with long-term effects, you have the right to seek compensation.

In Indiana, you can receive economic damages as well as non-economic damages (these take pain and suffering into account).

Statute of Limitations:

The Statute of Limitations for Indiana (IN Code § 34-11-2-4 ) lawsuits is two years. The pain of being involved in an accident that results in an injury may last anywhere from days to years after the incident. Don’t let a personal injury disrupt your life without speaking to a qualified attorney like those at PBAR to help you seek compensation.

Call today for a free case review at 1-800-265-9881, or contact us online.