Perhaps the most immediate and distressing aspect of a major automobile collision is its tendency to result in injuries, both temporary and lasting. In fact, much permanent head, neck, and spine injuries are commonly attributed to automobile collisions. Victims suffering from these conditions often face long recovery times, high medical costs, emotional trauma, loss of motor function or ability to work, and more.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Injuries to the brain are among the most serious results of a car accident. The force of a collision can sometimes cause drivers and passengers in the vehicle to strike their heads against the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows. This can result in a range of injuries, from bruising and mild concussion all the way to comas, permanent cognitive damage, loss of vision or hearing, and other long-term problems.
- Spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries are another danger faced by those involved in major accidents. The sudden impact of a motor vehicle collision can cause a blow to the spine, fracturing, dislocating, or otherwise damaging the vertebrae, ligaments, discs, and/or nerves located in the spinal column. The resulting trauma can be quite serious, causing paralysis, loss of sensation and motor function, intense pain, and other complications.
- Herniated discs. Another frequent result of car accidents is herniated spinal discs. While not as serious as spinal cord injuries, which can cause paralysis, herniated discs can cause severe pain in the limbs and extremities, often coupled with numbness or tingling sensations and muscle weakness. This condition can also lead to complications like bone spurs and permanent nerve damage. Many disk herniations lead to permanent symptoms that can require invasive treatments including surgery.
- Nerve damage. Some motor vehicle accident victims experience neurological problems. These may be induced from blunt force trauma to the head or spine, whiplash, or lacerations sustained during the accident. These incidents may compress, stretch, or sever nerves, causing debilitating pain, headaches, emotional and mental problems, weakness, and more.
- Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are jerked back and forth during a motor vehicle collision, most often when the victim is rear-ended by another automobile. Whiplash is a painful condition that affects the head, neck, and shoulders, and it can result in numbness or tingling, stiffness and reduced range of motion in the head and neck, dizziness, and fatigue. Serious cases of whiplash can cause permanent structural damage to the spine that requires a lifetime of medical treatment.
- Joint Injuries. Because of the forces involved in serious car wrecks, many victims sustain injury to joints in their bodies, such as their shoulders or knees. These injuries can range from minor sprains to serious cartilage or ligament tears that require surgery to repair, and result in lasting pain and impairment.
- Broken Bones. Some car crashes in Austin are serious enough to result in broken bones. For example, airbag deployment can cause broken arms that require casting or surgical repair, and sudden forward movements can drive legs into the dashboard and feet into the floorboard, resulting in broken legs and injury to the foot and ankle. These injuries can be life-altering.
Painful injuries are difficult enough, but there may be additional economic and emotional burdens associated with your recovery that are not reflected by medical bills alone. The lifetime expenses of living with an injury or caring for a loved one with a debilitating condition can be very high, often totaling up to millions of dollars in serious cases.
Even less permanent issues can have serious financial consequences. For instance, you may need to miss work and therefore suffer from lost wages, or you may have to hire professionals to help you take care of basic tasks like transportation, cleaning your home, preparing meals, and so forth.
You may also suffer emotional trauma or loss of quality of life — non-economic damages that still impact your standard of living. Many accident victims experience serious mental anguish, developing post-traumatic stress conditions, depression, or anxiety. And if a relative or loved one has passed away due to an accident, the loss of companionship can also cause a great deal of suffering.
Our experienced Austin motor vehicle accident lawyers can help you access the actual cost of your accident, including losses that are difficult to calculate, like the lowered quality of life and emotional trauma.
When motor vehicle accidents occur, it’s important to respond quickly and properly, both to ensure the health and safety of yourself and other involved parties and to help your case should you have grounds to seek compensation.
- Get Out of Harm’s Way. Your safety should be your number-one priority after a traffic accident. If you are physically able, relocate to a safe location like the sidewalk or side of the road. If you can, check on the other parties involved in the collision and ensure that no one is in immediate danger. If you feel that you may be seriously injured, however, you should stay where you are. Never leave the scene of the accident until the police say you may go.
- Call EMS. If you or another party has been seriously injured in the accident, make sure that someone has called emergency medical services on the scene, or call them yourself if you are able. This can help document your injuries and start the process of getting medical attention for your injuries and can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
- Call the Police. Reporting the collision to the police is a pivotal part of your accident investigation, which will form the basis of the discovery portion of your case. Under Texas law, police are required to create formal crash reports if someone is injured or if there has been over $1,000 in damage to property because of the collision. Austin police reports can provide evidence that can be used to help secure a settlement or victory at trial. People change their stories and time makes memories fade, but the crash reports remain.
- Don’t Admit Fault. Car accidents happen quickly, and it’s not always immediately obvious which parties are at fault. For this reason, it’s imperative that you do not assume blame for the accident. By doing so, you limit your ability to pursue compensation and punitive damages should you decide to file suit.
- Collect Information. The more you are able to document the details of your accident, the better. Be sure to collect the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any involved parties and any witnesses who may have seen the collision occur. You’ll also want to collect the license plates and insurance details for the other vehicles involved in the collision. If you are able, you may want to take pictures of the damage to your automobile and the crash scene. Finally, it can be helpful to identify nearby businesses that might have caught the incident on a security camera.
- Avoid Giving Recorded Statements. Even when another driver was clearly at fault, it is not a good idea to “cooperate” with their insurance company by providing a recorded statement. Vague and misleading questions can result in answers that create ambiguity about who was at fault for an accident, and those statements can be used by the other insurance company to deny responsibility. While contacting your own insurance company is usually safer, do not provide them a recorded statement either until you have spoken with a personal injury lawyer for guidance.
- Seek Medical Care. We recommend all motor vehicle accident clients seek medical care immediately when any symptoms arise, no matter how minor. Although your first instinct may be to wait and see if the pain will go away, you may have a serious condition and not realize it. Many individuals suffering from injuries that end up being serious and permanent do not exhibit symptoms immediately following the accident. For instance, you may not feel the effects of a serious orthopedic or internal injury until several days or weeks after the collision. This is particularly true with spine injuries, such as intervertebral disk herniations. Seeing a medical professional not only ensures your well-being but also helps your legal case. The results of medical tests, doctor’s notes, and other health records can be used to document your injury and provide evidence in court. Our legal team can begin building your case immediately after you see a medical professional. Additionally, if you wait to receive medical care, it can appear to insurance providers as if your injury isn’t as serious as it is, undermining the legitimacy of your case and dramatically decreasing the chances the case will settle for an acceptable level of compensation.