The impact occurs suddenly, leaving you stunned and shaken. It takes a few minutes to get your bearings, and you realize that you’ve been hit by another car. What you do in the next minutes, hours, and days can make a real difference in your ability to recover money to compensate you for your injuries and the damage to your life that comes along with them. Because no one plans to be injured in a car accident, you may be unprepared and uncertain of what you need to do. So we’re here to offer you some guidelines on how you can protect your right to the recovery that is your legal due.
At the Scene
Before we begin, we need to emphasize that if you are seriously injured there may be nothing you can do but lie still and wait for help to arrive in the form of an ambulance to take you to the hospital. That’s the most important thing for you to do—get the medical attention you need right away.
If you are ambulatory or able to sit up, try to get the names and contact information of other drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Get the driver’s license, registration, plate number, insurance information, and make and model of every car in the accident.
If possible, take photos of the cars, showing body damage. Photograph geographic markers or street signs to identify where the accident occurred.
Call 911 and get a police officer to the scene. Get the offer’s name and badge number and ask for instructions on how to obtain a copy of the police report.
See your doctor, or get to an emergency room or urgent care clinic as soon as possible after the accident.
Call an experienced Huntsville car accident attorney and schedule an appointment. An unbeatable choice in Huntsville is the law firm of Wettermark & Keith, LLC, with a 95 percent success rate in recovering money for clients and a record of winning $250 million in victim compensation since 2003.
What to Avoid
Here are some things you should not do.
Don’t apologize. It may be second nature for you to apologize for any mishap without giving a thought to whether or not you did anything to apologize for. It just seems like the polite thing to do. But hold on. You didn’t cause the accident, so don’t apologize. If you apologize to anyone at the scene of a car accident, even just out of instinctive politeness, it could come back to bite you. An apology could be interpreted as your confessing to having caused the accident.
Don’t give anyone anything that could later be used against you. Say as little as possible to anyone. Especially avoid commenting on whether or not you’ve been injured. During an accident, your body releases a surge of adrenaline, which can keep you from feeling pain. This is just temporary. It often takes a while until the adrenaline wears off before realize that you’re hurting.
Don’t be in a hurry to assure the other driver that you’re okay. If you say, “I’m fine,” another meaningless automatic response, that can be taken as a statement that you are uninjured, which may not be accurate.
You’ll know better in a day or two, but don’t wait to see a doctor; get checked out as soon as possible, preferably the day of the accident. Give a detailed description of the accident type and any pain, bruising, swelling, or other symptoms you’re experiencing, even if they seem small or insignificant. Some injuries that appear to be minor at first can become worse over time.
Sometimes an insurance company representative will arrive at the scene of the accident. Don’t give a statement, and don’t sign anything.
Free Car Accident Consultation
The Huntsville, Alabama, personal injury lawyers at Wettermark & Keith, LLC, will meet with you at no charge to discuss the details of your accident and advise you on the best way to proceed. We investigate the accident and, when necessary, call upon experts, such as accident reconstructionists and engineers, to help prove your claim. We handle all negotiations and exchange of information with the insurance company, and fight vigorously for your right to a fair recovery that will adequately compensate you for all your damages: damages to your finances and to your quality of life. You risk nothing, because you never pay us anything until your recovery check has been received.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Injuries incurred in a car accident can wreak havoc with your life. Car accident injuries can cause a range of problems from relatively minor temporary impairments to catastrophic, permanent, life-changing impairments. and even death.
At the Huntsville, Alabama, personal injury law firm of Wettermark & Keith, LLC , we handle many kinds of accidents, fighting the insurance companies for adequate compensation for short, medium, and long term medical treatment, pain, disability, and disruption of life resulting from someone else’s negligent, careless, or deliberately wrongful act, or in some cases, failure to act in a reasonable manner.
Here we identify some of the most common types of auto accident injuries that we see in our practice.
Back, Neck, and Spinal Cord Injuries
Back and neck injuries are extremely common in motor vehicle accidents. They include soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains, spinal cord damage, nerve damage, and fractures. The injuries may affect any of the tissues in and around the spine, including:
- The spinal cord
- Intervertebral discs
Spinal cord damage is a catastrophic injury that generally causes paralysis below the damaged part of the spine. Injury to the lumbar or thoracic spine typically causes paraplegia, paralysis of the lower body. Damage to the cervical spine or neck area often results in tetraplegia, which is paralysis of all four limbs and often of the diaphragm, necessitating use of a respirator.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Injuries to the brain run the gamut from mild concussions to death. Below is a partial list of some of the brain injuries that can occur in a car accident:
- Diffuse axonal injuries are the most serious type of brain injury, damaging the axon of the neuron; this causes the victim to lapse into a coma, and frequently results in a permanent vegetative state or death. Survivors will have permanent brain damage.
- Intracranial hematomas are areas of pooled blood from a bleeding brain. The accumulated blood creates pressure on the surrounding area, which can be fatal. Depending on the location of the bleed, these may be called subdural hematoma (between your brain and the outer membrane covering your brain in the space between the dura and arachnoid mater; epidural hematoma (between the outer surface of the dura mater and the skull), and intraparenchymal hematoma, also called intracerebral hematoma, when blood pools within the brain.
- A concussion is a type of head injury that occurs as the result of an impact that temporarily disrupts your normal brain function. Repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
- A brain contusion is a bruise on your brain, often causing swelling and pressure. Mild contusions usually heal by themselves. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain injured.
Bones can easily be fractured by the impact of a car accident. Fractures can be painful and may keep you from work and activities for week or months while they heal. Serious displaced fractures usually require surgery if they are to heal properly. Fractures of the hip, pelvis, and vertebrae are extremely serious and often life-threatening. Broken ribs sometimes puncture a lung, another organ, or a blood vessel. Serious complications include infection, nerve damage, and blood clots.
Facial and Injuries
Facial injuries include broken jaw, broken teeth, broken nose, broken cheekbone, bruises, and lacerations that cause scarring. Eye injuries and blindness sometimes occur. A mandibular fracture (broken jaw) can make eating and speaking a problem.
Blood vessel damage may cause internal bleeding, which can result in other health problems including, dizziness, excessive fatigue, thirst, anemia, and paleness.
An abdominal aorta aneurysm is a rupture of the largest artery in the abdominal region. A rupture of the abdominal aorta is nearly always a fatal injury.
Internal Organ Injury
It is not uncommon for one or more of the internal organs to be damaged in a car accident impact, resulting in bleeding or loss of function of the organ.
Pneumothorax is a serious injury usually caused by a fractured rib puncturing the lung, causing it to collapse and allowing air to leak into the chest cavity.
A ruptured spleen is a painful injurythat often causes serious internal bleeding, requiring surgery. In cases of severe damage, it may be necessary to remove the spleen entirely.
Kidney damage from the impact of a car accident can be relatively minor bruising or may cause the kidney’s complete destruction.
Liver injuries are the most common type of abdominal injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may require surgery to repair.
Burn injuries often occur in car accidents where leaking fluids burst into flame. Burns are excruciatingly painful and often life threatening, especially when complicated by infection, which is common. Disfigurement may result in social isolation and psychological damage. Serious burns cause deforming scars and contractures that may make it difficult for the victim to engage in social or business activities.
Amputation accidents— loss of arms, hands, legs, feet, fingers or other body parts—may occur in serious accidents. Loss of a body part can affect your ability to perform certain kinds of work and often make it impossible to participate in many sports and other activities you enjoy. Amputation injuries typically require surgery, prostheses, and painful rehabilitative therapy, and many amputees experience phantom limb pain, a hard-to treat condition causing pain that feels as if it is coming from the missing limb.
Occasionally car accident victims are left with unrelenting chronic pain that goes on for years. Sometimes the cause can be determined and treated, but a condition known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can develop from even a minor car accident injury. This is a kind of pain that is disproportionate to the severity of the injury. It usually starts at the injury site and spreads from there, making sleep nearly impossible and limiting the ability to work or enjoy life.
Traffic accidents not only cause physical damage; many accident victims suffer from serious psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and phobias.
At the law offices of Wettermark & Keith, LLC , we have many years of experience helping auto accident victims. We understand how car accidents damage lives and diminish your quality of life while emptying your pocketbook. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, justice demands that you receive enough monetary compensation for what you’ve lost. We have a 95 percent rate of success in getting our clients the money they need and deserve. When a car accident has affected your life for the worse, call us. We have recovered over $250 million for our clients since 2003. Come in for a free, no-obligation consultation to discover how we can help. Call today!