Catastrophic Injury and Injuries Types
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,693 people in the United States were injured and 97 people were killed per day due to a car accidents in 2015. The people who are injured every year in car accidents are more than a statistic or number. They are our parents, children, grandparents, and family members. The fact is, a car accident can be a devastating event for both car accident victims and their family members.
In Florida specifically, there were an estimated 402,385 car crashes that occured in 2017, and of the accidents that occurred that year, 41,337 occured in Broward County, and 65,986 occured in Miami-Dade County. The accidents that occured in Broward and Miami-Dade County alone resulted in over 50 thousand injuries and over 400 fatalities. While it is true that some of the injuries sustained by a car accident victim can be minor, there are many that result in catastrophic injuries such as:
- Severe traumatic brain Injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe injuries to the spine
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
For an injury to be categorized as catastrophic, it has to have a substantial impact on an accident victim’s life that is permanent in nature. Typical symptoms associated with a catastrophic injury include complete or partial paralysis, permanent brain damage, and the loss of critical senses such as vision or hearing. A car accident victim suffering from a catastrophic injury will often require specialized medical care, medical equipment, and in certain instances, assisted living services. As such, it’s important for you to gain a general understanding of common facts concerning catastrophic injuries and the impact that a catastrophic injury could have on your life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are an estimated 40,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries every year in the United States. An estimated 38% of spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents thereby making car accidents the leading cause of spinal cord injuries nationwide.
Spinal cord injuries are usually caused by trauma that results in the spinal cord being either bruised, partially torn or completely torn. Since your spinal cord acts as a conduit that allows your brain to communicate with other parts of your body, any damage to your spinal cord can and usually does result in either temporary or permanent paralysis. Due to this, spinal cord injuries can be divided into two categories, complete and incomplete.
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries: This type of injury is categorized by only a partial paralysis below the injury site. You could have more motor functioning or feeling on one side your body than the other or have more functioning in one of your body parts on one side than the other such as the ability to move or feel your left leg but not your right.
- Complete Spinal Cord Injuries: Complete spinal cord injuries result in complete paralysis below the injury site. The resulting paralysis from a complete spinal cord injury affects both sides of the body equally and results in a loss of both movement and sensation.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for spinal cord injuries including surgery, spinal traction, and medication, but the type of spinal cord injury you sustained will ultimately determine which treatment options your doctor recommends.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Typically, the impact of a collision in a serious car accident will cause a car accident victim to sustain a major blow to the skull that interrupts the normal functioning of the brain. This type of injury is referred to as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the damage caused by a TBI can vary based on the extent to which normal brain activity was interrupted. A mild TBI, which is commonly referred to as a conclusion, can be caused by a minor blow or jolt to the skull that results in symptoms such as headaches, irritability, nausea or vomiting, and trouble sleeping.
In contrast, a severe TBI typically involves a blow to the skull that is so severe that it results in a loss of consciousness over six hours. After an accident victim wakes up, it is common to experience serious symptoms such a complete or partial loss hearing, vision, taste, smell, and sensation. Moreover, accident victims that have sustained a severe TBI can also be left permanently or temporarily paralyzed and experience a host of serious cognitive symptoms such as:
- Difficulties with attention, concentration, distractibility, and memory
- Difficulties with confusion and language processing
- Problems reading and writing
- Difficulties speaking and understanding speech
Although the damage an accident victim sustains from a TBI is permanent in most cases, there are several treatment options available to decrease the severity of TBI-related symptoms or at least help an accident victim with a severe TBI manage these symptoms. Moreover, several hospitals have adopted treatment guidelines for severe traumatic brain injuries that have been shown to reduce TBI-related deaths by 50%, and the Center for Disease Control is actively conducting research into traumatic brain injuries in an effort to both raise awareness of the damage a TBI can have on an accident victim and explore possible treatment options for TBI patients.
Injuries to the spine are one of the most common types of injuries you can sustain in a car accident. Injuries such as whiplash, herniated discs, etc. fall into this category, but like all injuries, a spinal injury can vary in severity. As such, severe spinal injuries can be life changing for an accident victim and often cause both damage to the spine itself and the spinal cord.
One of the most common types of severe spinal injuries is a spinal fracture, and the extent of the damage caused by a spinal fracture depends on the type of fracture an accident victim sustains. The different types of spinal fractures include:
- Flexion Fracture
- Extension Fracture (Typically sustained by head-on car accident victims)
- Rotation Fracture
Flexion fractures and extension fractures are the most common types of spinal fractures sustained by car accident victims. Typical symptoms associated with a spinal fracture include:
- Severe back pain
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Weakness in limbs
A car accident victim with a spinal fracture will often require surgical intervention to repair the fracture, and even after surgery has been performed, the accident victim will never fully recover from their injuries. Moreover, car accident victims with this type of injury will require ongoing medical care such as physical therapy, medication, and injections over the course of their lifetime.
Catastrophic Injury Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If you or a family member has been involved in a car accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries, it’s important for you to hire an attorney that specializes in catastrophic injury cases. Often, car accident victims won’t be able to work, and as a result, they will have a mountain of medical unpaid medical expenses which can have a devastating impact on the victim’s family both emotionally and financially. At Friedland and Associates, our car accident attorney has extensive experience handling catastrophic injury cases, and he stands ready to help you. So, call our office today for a free consultation to find out how our car accident attorney can help you.