Florida law requires personal injury protection (PIP) insurance for all vehicle owners...
Not a day goes by that there isn’t an accident on one of the many Florida roadways, and it seems like every year there are more and more. Car accidents and the injuries they cause are often the reason people file personal injury claims. There are several million accidents each year that result in injuries, causing millions in damages, both financial and physical.
Rear-end collisions are some of the most devastating accidents in any location. They can produce a wide range of issues: from minor injuries that include soft tissue injuries that can heal relatively quickly with little intervention, to serious and even life-threatening injuries, that require multiple surgeries and long periods of painful rehab, as well as therapy to fully heal from. These injuries can affect more than just your health.
If you were injured in a rear-end collision, the insurance company may try to downplay or minimize the damages. Often, the insurer will try to dismiss them entirely as “fender-benders” when frequently there are serious and often disabling injuries that have occurred. This can mean daily pain for the victim, loss of their ability to work, or even become permanently disabled or paralyzed.
How Do Rear-End Collisions Affect The Severity Of The Injuries?
Due to the forces and direction of the impact, along with the unexpected nature, injuries created from rear-end collisions can be extremely severe. Even in low-impact low-speed rear-end collisions, the driver and passengers of the vehicle that has been hit can suffer a sudden and violent forward thrust. Luckily, seat belts are able to restrict much of the body’s movement, but the head and neck are often not well-protected.
This sudden and violent shove forward causes the upper body, head, and neck to move slightly backward, then they are suddenly “whipped” forward, causing immense pain and injuries. This motion can be combined with the body’s placement in the car’s seat to create extensive damages to the soft tissues in the neck, back, and spine. This is how whiplash occurs.
The Potential For Whiplash After A Rear-End Collision
One of the most common injuries received in a rear-end collision is whiplash. This painful and debilitating injury to the neck occurs when there is a rapid and forceful back and forth movement of the head and neck, similar in motion to a whip crack. This damages the tissues in and around the neck, including the intervertebral joints, ligaments, discs, nerves, and cervical muscles.
The symptoms can be immediate, or they can take hours and sometimes days to present. These symptoms are painful and may include but are certainly not limited to:
- Blurred Vision
- Chronic Neck Pain
- Radiating Shoulder Pain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Ringing In The Ears
- Unusual Fatigue
- Numbness In The Upper Extremities
- Stiffness And Limited Range Of Motion In The Neck
- Unusual Difficulty With Memory Or Focus
In a large portion of cases, whiplash can be successfully managed with medication and rest, allowing the damaged tissues to heal. In some cases, however, it may take weeks or months to return to normal function and even then you may need rehab or physical therapy to fully recover. In a small percentage of cases, there is even a permanent reduction in the range of motion and consistent daily pain.
Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain management medications, and even antidepressants. Some of these come with their own side effects that may affect you until healed. There are also scenarios where you may need assistive devices like a cervical collar or other braces to help the neck heal.
Other Common Injuries From Rear-End Collisions
In addition to whiplash, there are a host of other injuries that can be sustained in a serious accident like a rear-end collision. Some of these injuries include:
- Herniated Discs – This is an injury of the soft cushions between the vertebrae. They become damaged and bulge unevenly and out of place. This can cause severe pain and limitations on mobility.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – These are incredibly serious injuries that can lead to major pain and agony, partial or even complete paralysis. The placement of the damage on the spinal cord will ultimately determine the level of impairment, the higher in the column the injury is, the greater chance of complete disability and paralysis.
- Vertebral Fractures – Fractures to your spinal column can happen anywhere along the length of your spine. The different forces of compression, extension, rotation, and flexion will each create their own unique fractures in the vertebral bones. Injuries like these can require surgery to repair, and may still end with lifelong impairments. Bone fragments created by fractures can even create secondary injuries called “spinal stenosis”, where the out of place bone fragment puts pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.
- Sprains – Sprains to the back and neck are common and can cause severe pain at the slightest movement. Sprains may also affect mobility and movement for several weeks or months in some cases.
One of the most important things to do after you are hit in a rear-end collision is to get medical attention as soon as possible. Not only can an injury be exacerbated or develop more symptoms if you do not seek treatment. Delaying care can also possibly damage any personal injury claim you intend to file, as the insurer can argue that your injury was not as severe as alleged because you did not immediately seek treatment for it.
What To Do After Being Injured In A Rear-End Collision
Take pictures of everything. Get the vehicles, their damages, the location, and position. Show where the accident began and where it ended, including skid marks if possible. Show the road conditions and surroundings. If you have personal property like glasses, smartphones, or other personal effects that were damaged, show them. Get pictures of and visible injuries you or your passengers may have.
Gather all the pertinent information that you can. Speak to the other driver, get their name, contact and insurance information. While obtaining this information, do not discuss fault or blame and do not apologize. Be sure to ask potential witnesses for their contact info and a statement if possible.
Get Medical Attention Immediately
Even if you do not feel like you need help, go to the emergency room or immediate care center and get checked out. Not only do you need to know if you have injuries that you cannot see, but you need to begin to establish your timeline of medical care.
This is a step you cannot skip, even for a minor fender bender, and even if you do not feel hurt at all. You have adrenaline in your system which can prevent you from feeling pain, and you may also be in a degree of shock. It is not worth the risk to your life to try and ignore a little pain or a dull headache when it could be the sign of a grave injury.
Speak With An Attorney
If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, you likely have mountains of medical bills, along with lost wages for work you missed while in the hospital or home recovering. There is also a component for pain and suffering that may apply to your claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer like Brian L. Elstein is ready to help you fight for fair compensation for your damages and losses.
Common Causes Of Rear-End Collisions in Florida And Who Is To Blame?
In the majority of cases, the person in the rear to hit the driver in front is liable for the damages the collision caused. There are some circumstances, however, where this is not the case. If the driver in front is driving negligently and stops abruptly and without cause or notice, that may change things and cause them to be liable, however, if there was a reason it may be justified. The best thing to do is to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Why Should I Work With A Lawyer?
The personal injury claims process can be very complex, and if you are trying to recover from injuries, it can be overwhelming. Your attorney will have priceless knowledge of not only how to build a strong case but they will also know how to effectively present that case at each stage of the process.
They will be your advocate during the settlement negotiations, and if your case needs to advance to litigation, your attorney will be by your side in court. They will be a powerful ally in your quest to recover your damages, and they will fight hard for your claim.
Contact Elstein Legal Today
You need to relax and focus on your healing process, let Elstein Legal handle the stressful part. Contact us today for a professional evaluation of your case.