Have you ever been in a car collision? Vehicle accidents, falls, and other types of incidents make individuals experience catastrophic injuries with potentially fatal consequences.
These horrific injuries affect their ability to walk, work, think, remember, and perform the most basic daily activities. Victims of such traumas aren’t only physically burdened but mentally as well. They struggle to accept their new way of life, grieve, and become anxious and depressed. Nevertheless, lawyers specializing in tort law strive to reimburse victims for the pain and horror they’ve been through.
Catastrophic traumas include severe damage done to the spine, brain, limbs, and abdomen, as well as vision loss and burns.
We hope you find this trauma guide useful.
Spinal cord injuries
Spinal cord injuries often have catastrophic results in individuals who have been in an accident. The spinal cord is in charge of delivering signals, which travel from the brain to all parts of the body. Consequently, any injury in this area might result in a permanent loss of motion. Read here about the anatomy and functions of the backbone.
The consequences depend on the part of the spinal cord that suffered the damage. After a spinal cord injury, the ability of the victim to move his/her limbs is determined by the location of the damage and its severity. Hence, backbone injuries can be either complete or incomplete. The former describes the loss of both sensory and motor function below the trauma point, while the latter means the motor and sensory function isn’t completely lost.
Moreover, complete spine injuries are less common than incomplete but lead to paralyzes, such as tetraplegia and paraplegia. Tetraplegia is a term used for the paralysis of every limb, including the pelvic organs. In contrast, paraplegia affects just the lower limbs and the pelvic organs.
Incomplete spine injuries are far more common. They include anterior cord syndrome, central cord syndrome, and brown-sequard syndrome. The anterior syndrome affects the front part of the backbone, having influence over the sensory pathways. The central syndrome influences the central portion of the spine, resulting in nerve damage. The brown-sequard syndrome only happens when one side of the backbone is affected by the trauma.
Auto and motorcycle accidents account for approximately half of the spine injuries that occur on an annual basis. Additionally, slip and fall accidents cause almost thirty percent of these injuries. Ten percent of them are caused by athletic activities. In any event, this sort of trauma affects every possible aspect of the lives of victims. Despite the physical disability, it affects people emotionally, mentally, and socially.
Spinal cord injuries involve a multitude of complications, which should be addressed during rehabilitation. The affected areas usually include bladder control, bowel control, circulatory control, skin sensation, respiratory system, muscle tone, sexual health, pain, and depression. See the following URL, https://www.healthline.com/health/bladder-control, for some tips on getting your bladder under control.
Therefore, the compensation for this type of trauma should include not just the medical expenses and lost wages but also the physical, mental, and emotional effects caused by the incident.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries are considered catastrophic owing to their ability to change the lives of victims permanently. They are mainly induced by blunt force trauma to the head area, leading to potential inflammation, bleeding, swelling, and bruising of the brain. Short-term symptoms include dizziness, nausea, pain, and coma, whereas long-term symptoms encompass tinnitus, vision loss, cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, memory loss, etc.
Concussions are considered mild TBIs, being the most frequent outcome of traumatic accidents. These happen when the internal walls of the skull hit and trigger changes in brain function. The symptoms of concussion include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, etc. Even though in most cases the outcome is nonfatal, concussions might sometimes result in lasting damage.
Cerebral edema, otherwise known as brain swelling, stands for the swelling of this organ induced by a TBI. The inability of the skull to expand along with the swelling leads to brain pressure manifested with dizziness, nausea, weakness, loss of balance, lethargy, seizures, etc.
Diffuse axonal injury is among the most common in car accidents. It’s caused by damage done to brain cell axons, which affects the connection of this organ to the other body organs. A contusion is another TMI typical for auto accidents. It describes a brain bruise caused when the head is exposed to impact from the outside. Contusions can be minor or major, based on the force of the impact. Emergency interventions are obligatory in victims with life-threatening contusions.
Coup-countercoup is a TBI caused by an impact from an object, which often happens in auto accidents. The injury, surprisingly, happens in two places, the original place of the impact (coup) and the opposite brain side (countercoup). Such a traumatic brain injury takes place only if the organ moves within the skull during the impact.
Open head injuries have a tendency to occur in vehicle accidents, resulting from an object penetrating both the brain and the skull. In most such cases, the skull is either cracked or fractured. Victims usually have to undergo surgery to have brain pressure relieved or the object removed.
Although skull fractures are rare, these have the potential to alter brain function and cause infection. The fractures that leak cerebrospinal fluid usually need surgical intervention. Hiring a personal injury attorney is a must if you receive a brain injury in an accident, as you won’t be able to navigate the legal process. In such moments of confusion, having a professional to look out for your best interests is indeed necessary.
Another type of injury common in tort law is burn injuries, which affect both epidermis, dermis, and adipose tissue. The severity of burns is denoted by three levels of tissue damage, first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree burns. Car accident fires are rare, but the consequences might be catastrophic.
First-degree burns are superficial, only affecting the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin. The skin of victims becomes red, dry, and painful, but there are no signs of blistering. In contrast, second-degree burns refer to tissue damage done to the epidermis and part of the dermis, making the skin look red, swollen, shiny, and blistered.
Third-degree burns penetrate the epidermis and dermis, thus affecting the deeper tissues found underneath the dermis. The skin of victims doesn’t turn red but white, brown, or black. These burns don’t hurt as they have damaged the nerve endings.
Fourth-degree burns are doubtlessly the most severe forms of such injuries. These burns don’t affect just the skin but also the bones and muscles, which makes them life-threatening. The destruction of the epidermis and hair follicles prevents new skin from growing sometime in the future. The treatment of third-degree and fourth-degree burns is painstaking and painful, requiring multiple surgeries.
Burn injury victims are entitled to reimbursement if the accident was prompted by a reckless act or a flawed vehicle design. You are supposed to be reimbursed for your physical and emotional pain regardless of who/what induced the unfortunate event. You should have a lawyer by your side to reconstruct the accident and assist you in obtaining your compensation.
Another category of catastrophic injuries is traumatic orthopedic injuries which require multiple surgeries or amputation. If the limb is severely damaged, the best alternative is to have it removed by performing an amputation. Limb amputation is a medical term describing the surgical removal of an entire or part of a limb like a leg, arm, hand, foot, finger, or toe.
Vehicle accidents are on the list of frequent causes for amputation, along with severe burns. The amputation procedure isn’t identical in all patients, as it depends on the extremity of the injury. It’s either performed by general or spinal anesthesia. The former means the patient is entirely asleep, as opposed to the latter, which numbs the lower part of the body.
During the amputation, the role of the surgeon is to leave no traces of damaged tissue. Surgeons rely on various methods to determine the exact location of the cut the amount of tissue to remove. For example, doctors check the pulse near the place of making the cut, compare skin temperatures of both limbs, look for signs of red skin, and check the sensitivity of the spot.
Once the surgeon removed the damaged tissue, his/her job is to seal off the blood vessels and nerves and shape the muscles at the end of the limb. The wound is either sawn right away or left open for a few more days. The recovery process usually involves phantom pain and grief, which makes doctors prescribe counseling and medications.
Losing a limb as a result of the carelessness of another person allows victims to get compensation for their troubles. An accident with such catastrophic consequences is a life-changer for the victim, undergoing physical and emotional hurdles. These individuals have to relearn how to complete daily tasks in order not to be prevented from working and socializing.
Another catastrophic injury that stems from accidents is vision loss. Sudden vision impairment tends to happen when individuals suffer a face or brain trauma. Sometimes, the outcome is total blindness. Eye injuries are nothing new in car crashes, occurring when the airbag strikes the face of the driver and passengers with too much force. Temporary blindness may also be induced by fire, as the light produced by fires is overly bright. Anyhow, victims generally restore part of their vision.
The reason for vision loss might be indirect in some cases. Direct eye trauma is not always to blame for blindness. TBIs have the capacity to affect the brain’s vision centers, thus making accident victims lose their sight partially or completely. Head trauma and medical malpractice play a significant role in vision loss.
For example, it happens for surgeons to make an error during surgery, thus contributing to vision loss in patients. Also, a doctor who fails to diagnose a neurological condition is held liable for blindness in his/her patients. Fortunately, there are certain medical procedures that enable victims to restore at least some of their vision.
Blindness and blurred vision usually come from the head and face inflammation. The moment head and face injuries heal, vision tends to return. In case the damage is directly done to the optic nerve, corrective lenses and a replacement of the cornea might help. When blindness is a consequence of a brain injury, surgery is the only hope for vision restoration.
Blunt abdominal trauma
Blunt abdominal trauma is yet another catastrophic injury from motor vehicle collisions, falls, and recreational accidents. It’s an injury to the abdomen, causing damage to the internal organs, bowel, liver, intestines, and spleen. While seat belts reduce the rate of head and chest injuries, they increase the risk of abdominal trauma.
The most interesting thing about blunt abdominal trauma is the absence of symptoms in the first days after the accident. Victims might start feeling pain after a number of days, experience nausea, vomiting, fever, and bloody urine. Even if you feel no pain after being in a collision, you still need to see a doctor to check your body for signs of abdominal trauma.
Furthermore, abdominal trauma includes damage done to one or several organs. The liver is the most susceptible to injuries in car accidents because of its location in the body. Conversely, the spleen is what triggers massive internal bleeding. Pancreas injuries are more typical for bicycle accidents, particularly when the handlebars impact the bodies of cyclists. Kidneys are less prone to trauma, as these organs are partially protected by the ribs.
Abdominal trauma is diagnosed with ultrasound technology, CT scans, and X-rays. You need to provide radiological images to your lawyer for him/her to use them as proof of trauma done to the internal organs.
Victims of horrific accidents should obtain their well-deserved compensation.
The least that lawyers can do for them is help them restore their lives to some point!