CAN CAUSE A SERIOUS INJURY
Have you ever been in a light impact auto accident and walked away feeling okay only to start feeling pain days later? That happens to a lot of people. They think they are fine since the car was hardly damaged and they just came out of the accident without a scratch. What they don’t realize is that their body has gone through a traumatic experience and they generally dismiss any pain or soreness (until it becomes unbearable) because all of their senses are telling them that nothing really happened and they also look just fine.
Although many people who receive injuries resulting from low impact car accidents recover quickly, there are quite a few who do not. Some of the serious injuries that can come from low impact automobile accidents are: whiplash, soft tissue injuries such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. The back and neck can also become seriously damaged and chronic pain can follow a victim around for the rest of his or her life.
Steps To Be Taken After An Accident
If you are in an accident, whether it is a low impact one or not, the first thing you should do is:
• Make sure that you are physically okay, that is, you are not bleeding, have no broken bones and no blurry vision.
• Check on the other passengers to make sure everyone is all right and not injured.
• Check the other car’s passengers to make sure they are okay.
• Call the police and an ambulance if necessary.
• Take names and contact information of people in the car that hit you.
• Get the names and contact information of witnesses to the accident along with their statements if possible.
• Go to a hospital or clinic and tell the medical professional where the impact of the accident affected your body. Even if you don’t feel any pain at this point you will still know what part of your body hit the inside of the car the hardest when the other car ran into you. This medically documented report, which is time and date stamped, will help you later should you decide you need to bring a lawsuit against the driver of the other car and his or her insurance company. This medical record will be a document stating that you did indeed seek medical advice because of the potential trauma of the accident.
• Call a Personal Injury Attorney. This step is left out many times because of the urgency of the moment. People who have been in an accident are too often shaken up so much that they can barely say their own name when the police arrive. Of course, most of the other steps are left out too for the same reasons so don’t feel bad about it. When you do call the Personal Injury Attorney he will most likely ask you if you went to a medical clinic or a doctor’s office. If you haven’t he will probably tell you to get up and go immediately to make sure that you are okay and to start the documentation process, which is so important in personal injury cases.
Once you have made an agreement with the Personal Injury Attorney you can give him all the information you got at the scene of the accident, such as passengers’ names and witnesses’ names and contact information. He will take it from there and contact those people for more extensive interviews and to gather more information.
The reason it’s so important to have as much information as possible is because proving that an injury did indeed occur during a low impact accident is a very difficult task even for the best Personal Injury Attorneys. So, the more documentation and the more witnesses that corroborate your side of the story – the better for you. Remember, your attorney is fighting for you and he is fighting against big insurance companies who never want to pay out any money to anyone if they don’t have to. Of course, you may realize weeks after the accident that you are not injured at all but if you had been, all that documentation and going to the medical clinic would have paid off. It may seem like a great deal of work but you should do all of these things even if you aren’t seeking a lawsuit against the other driver. Someone else in the car you were riding in might be injured and this information could be of use to them and their Personal Injury Attorney.
Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries that people get from low impact car accidents. By low impact, we simply mean that the speed of the car was traveling at 12 miles per hour or less and there was not much apparent damage to the automobile or its passengers. The key word in the last sentence is “apparent.” Damage to the passengers was not apparent at the time of the accident. However, that’s the specific point we are addressing in this piece: not apparent at the time of the accident. Serious injuries can appear days later or even weeks later due to that low impact fender bender you were in.
Whiplash, for instance, is when your head is thrown forward unexpectedly and then is jerked back quickly. This kind of action on the neck causes neck strain that can be rather debilitating if it is not treated immediately. The pain can be severe and your range of motion will be decreased greatly. The neck muscles will also feel as though they are contracted, that is, hard and tightly pulled in on themselves. You will experience extreme pain when you turn your head to the side or move your head up and down. You may also experience headaches from the forehead to the base of the skull. Many times the pain will be noticed right away after the accident and sometimes it will creep up on you slowly after hours or days.
Minor whiplash injuries will usually heal on their own but on the other hand, if your neck and muscles and tendons, etc. have gone through the proverbial ringer and have been thrown completely out of alignment then your pain is just starting. The good news is you can start treatment at home with ice (wrapped in a cloth or towel) on the neck to reduce the pain and decrease swelling. If you do this for 15 to 20 minutes every three to four hours you will see some relief. After two or three days of icing, some people suggest applying moist heat to your neck after the swelling has gone down. Some folks dampen a towel or washcloth and then put it in the microwave for ten to twenty seconds to get it hot. Experiment with the microwave time because, as you may already know, things can heat up pretty quickly in there and you don’t want it to be too hot for your skin.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil or Aleve will also help in the reduction of swelling and pain. We are not recommending any specific treatment, however, we are simply passing on information that is common knowledge to almost everyone who has access to the Internet or who watches television. We strongly suggest that you see your medical professional and take his or her advice for pain relief and the reduction of inflammation and swelling.
The action that brought on whiplash can also cause a concussion. Concussions, as most of us have heard lately, are nothing to sneeze at. They are serious and can cause sever headaches and even death if not treated and cared for immediately. If you think you may have a concussion (or whiplash) you should go see a medical professional tight away. A concussion will bring on a headache and if the pain gets worse or doesn’t go away, of if you have difficulty talking or feel dizzy, confused, nauseous, sleepy or become unconscious then it’s a pretty good bet that you have experienced a concussion. Low impact automobile accidents can do so much damage even if it at first it may seem insignificant. If you’ve been in an low impact car accident your brain may be telling you that there is nothing to be alarmed about but your body has actually gone through some incredible traumatic incident that it is trying to adjust to. The little pains in your neck and/or head may not sound or feel or seem to be important to your brain but they should be. those pains, no matter how intense, are simply communications that are being sent from the damaged parts of your body to your CPU, which is your brain. Since your Central Processing Unit has experienced these slight pains before caused by completely different circumstances, it continues to push them away and ignore them because it “knows” that the pain will eventually go away. However, a low impact car accident has shaken the body is such a way that it has never been shaken or damaged previously but generally your brain doesn’t take this factor into consideration and so, it ignores the pain and marks it down to a simple pain in the neck or a common headache.
All we are saying and suggesting is that any time you are in a car accident, whether it is a low impact one or not, you should see it as a brand new type of injury that requires the professional care of a physician. You should also see a Personal Injury Attorney because a severe or traumatic whiplash then it could take years of therapy and treatment along with countless doctor visits, all of which could theoretically end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those are not the only mounting costs. Add in loss of work time, which means loss of income, and emotional and psychological isolation and stress and you may be looking at tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
Besides neck and head injuries, low impact auto accidents can also cause spinal injuries. As many chiropractors will tell you, the spine is definitely strong but it can also get pushed out of alignment very quickly and easily, causing much discomfort and great pain. If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor one of the first things they will look at is your posture and what you have in your back pocket when you are sitting down. If you have a thick wallet, or any wallet, for that matter, the doctor will suggest that you carry it from then on in a front trouser pocket. Why do they suggest that? Because when you sit on a thick wallet that’s only on one side of your back end, your spine is unbalance and will be pulled out of alignment.
When you are in a car and are hit from behind or crash into someone else’s car even at a very low speed, your whole body is shocked and forced out of its natural alignment. Research has been conducted studying low impact car accidents and their effect on the spine. When a car is rear ended at 5 miles per hour, the rear bumper appears to be undamaged. However, when the bumper was taken off the car and observed more closely, it was found that the foam and the plastic inside the bumper was noticeable broken up and the damage was clearly obvious. The inside of the bumper absorbed most of the energy of the accident just like the human body does when it goes through a low impact automobile accident. The inside of the body, the neck, (whiplash) the head, (concussion) and the spine (out of alignment) can suffer traumatic harm even when those areas look perfectly fine when seen from the outside.
Many times the low impact automobile accident doesn’t even seem like an accident at all. Your car will generally not be outwardly damaged and neither will the occupants of the car you are riding in. You will feel a jolt, however, if another car rear ends you. Your car will be pushed forward a few inches or feet, depending on the speed of the offending car, and you will hear a loud bang when the cars collide. It will all happen within a few seconds and then it will be over. You may not even have noticed that your head and neck and perhaps even your back were forced forward and then jerked back in the few short milliseconds it took for the cars to hit and then separate and settle.
You should still see a doctor or at the very least go to a walk-in clinic to be checked out. The medical professional could find some injury that may need immediate treatment. At any rate, by seeing a doctor you will have documented that you were in an accident, even though it might be considered a minor one, and you have documented your potential injuries for future reference in case you decide to pursue a law case against the other driver. As we mentioned earlier, you should also collect witness names and contact information along with the other driver’s name and contact number along with his or her insurance company’s contact information. All of this will eventually work in your favor should you find out that that low impact automobile accident that nobody thought anything of has injured your neck, head or spine. You will be the one who has documented everything because it was the right thing and the smart thing to do. Once you hire a Personal Injury Attorney then you can turn over all the information and documentation to him and he will take it from there. He will make the strongest case for you and he will try to get the most benefits for you such as getting your medical costs paid for (current and possible future amounts), reimbursements for loss of work and salary and any other costs you may incur that are involved in the accident.
Why is it sometimes difficult to prove that someone was injured in a low impact automobile accident? That’s a very good question. Since the insurance companies are basically the ones who must ultimately pay the victims of car accidents they have created the false ‘reality’ that victims of low impact accidents couldn’t possibly have been injured due to the fact that the speed was slow low – 5 to 12 miles per hour. The insurance company’s lawyers have been saying in courtrooms across the country that since there was no visible damage to the car or the occupants, how could there be any real damage to either. While it sounds like a fact-based point we now know that the inside of the victim’s car has clearly been damaged as well as the victim’s neck, head and/or spine has also been thrown out of alignment by the low speed, low impact incident they experienced.
Let’s not be naïve here though. Billions of dollars in insurance company payouts have been accrued by people who have lied to the insurance companies and the courts in order to get free money without having any injuries at all. There has been an incredible amount of fraud and fakes who are opportunists just waiting for a chance to take advantage of large insurance companies with deep pockets. Those cheaters have not only taken money from the insurance companies under false pretenses but have forced the price of insurance to skyrocket because of their big payouts.
The insurance companies realize there are fraudulent people out there who will do anything to get money from them and they have been battling them for decades. In one sense, the insurance companies are benign protectors who fight for their clients and on the other hand, they see their opponents as the enemy who is trying to rob them blind. One of the insurance industry’s positions is “No property damage = no injury.” They try to hold to that all the way through the court case and/or through settlement negotiations. Of course, when you hire one of the best Personal Injury Attorneys you will find out Quick enough that he won’t stand for that kind of labeling because he has done his homework and you have (hopefully) done all the documentation that you could possibly do.
Other tacit rules the insurance companies cling to are similar to the first one: “Little property damage = little injury,: and “Big property damage = big injury.” Of course, any reasonable person knows these maxims are generalities and have nothing at all to do with the reality of car accidents or how to gauge the severity of an injury. It’s like saying: “That boy stole something so all boys are thieves.” We learned about the fallacy of this kind of thinking in grade school and apparently, the insurance companies employees and lawyers skipped grade school and went directly to law school.
When your Personal Injury Attorney fights for you he will also fight against the low-impact accident experts that the insurance companies will bring in to denounce your case. He will show that there are really no low impact automobile accident experts out there at all and that the person testifying for the insurance company is just a normal person with skills such as being an ex-cop or someone who used to work as an insurance adjuster. Not that there is anything wrong with these skills but they are not necessarily conducive to being an expert on anything, especially low impact car accidents.
That is one way of winning the case against the insurance case and another is for your Personal Injury Attorney to simply bring in his own low impact car accident “expert” to refute the testimony of the insurance company’s “expert.”
There are plenty of ways to win your case and your Personal Injury Attorney knows them all. The important thing for you to do after you have documented everything and seen a medical professional, is to put all your trust into your attorney and follow his directions.
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