What's Considered a Serious Injury in A Car Accident?

It can be challenging to define what constitutes a major vehicle accident, particularly given some horrifying incidents only produce minor injuries, while a very low-impact fender bender could result in painful and disabling injuries. A person has suffered a significant injury if they continue to experience the consequences of their injuries for weeks, months, or even years after the incident, even though there is no clear definition of what constitutes a serious or minor vehicle accident.

While significant injuries to accident victims in low-impact collisions are not very common, they can and do happen. For example, many accident victims emerge from collisions with just minor scratches or bruises, or in other circumstances, without even a scratch, yet a few days later they start to experience neck stiffness or discomfort.

This is most frequently a sign of whiplash in vehicle accident scenarios, which happens when the head rapidly jerks forward and backward, typically upon contact, leading to strained ligaments and muscles. In addition to headache, dizziness, shoulder discomfort, inexplicable lethargy, and back pain, whiplash victims may also experience these symptoms.

Because the cost of treating these injuries can be high, it is crucial for anybody hurt in an accident—no matter how minor—to consult with an experienced Chicago automobile accident attorney about pursuing compensation from the responsible party.

While this guide can be helpful for helping you understand whether or not your injury is considered serious enough to file a personal injury claim, we always recommend seeking out the assistance of a Chicago car accident lawyer. Such an attorney will be experienced in Illinois personal injury law and can assist you in obtaining fair and just compensation in your case. A car accident lawyer in Chicago can also help you determine whether or not your injury would be considered serious enough to be considered a high-damages case. Generally speaking, let’s take a look at what would be regarded as a serious injury in a car accident.

What is Considered a Serious Injury in a Car Accident?

The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria guideline‘s definition of suspected serious injury serves as the foundation for how the U.S. Department of Transportation defines a serious injury. As of 2022, the following injuries satisfy the requirements for a major injury:

  • Injuries to the chest, abdomen, or skull that go beyond mild bruising and cuts.
  • 10% or more of the body is burned in the second or third degree.
  • Being unconscious at the accident scene
  • Severe wounds that expose muscle, bone, or other soft tissue.
  • Arms or legs that are broken or deformed.
  • Injuries brought on by being trampled.
  • Injuries that cause loss of pregnancy.
  • Dismemberment.
  • Injuries that cause significant and permanent loss of organ function or overall body function.
  • Paralysis.
  • Death.

While federal law mandates that these injuries be part of every state’s definition of a severe injury, individual states are free to add other conditions to their list of what constitutes a serious injury for the purposes of filing a car accident claim.

The notion of severe permanent deformity is another form of serious injury to consider. Catastrophic injuries sometimes result in permanent major disfigurement, which is characterized as an injury that makes it impossible for the person to conduct any future meaningful employment. It happens when an injury causes the victim’s body to remain chronically and obviously injured long after the healing process is complete. Amputation, significant scarring, and contortions are a few examples of extreme permanent deformity.

Determining the Symptoms of a Serious Injury

You might not instantly recognize that you have suffered major injuries in a vehicle accident. You can have an injury—like whiplash, a concussion, or even mental trauma—that doesn’t manifest itself until days after the event because of the shock of it. In the event of an automobile accident, keep an eye out for any of these signs of severe injuries:

  • Shoulder and neck ache
  • Significant back ache
  • Tingling or burning in the shoulders and neck
  • Memory loss or other neurological symptoms
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Certain regions feel numb or weak

It’s critical to pay attention to these signs. In addition to receiving treatment to prevent long-term health issues, a diagnosis of your injuries may also entitle you to compensation for pain and suffering. No-fault insurance coverage may also pay for medical costs, missed earnings, and other costs.

When an Injury Qualifies as a Serious Injury

Every year in Illinois, there are thousands of injuries brought on by auto accidents. Because there are so many kinds of collisions and auto accidents, the potential injuries they might cause are also very diverse.

There are, however, certain broad kinds of injuries that are more typical than others. They differ in terms of their seriousness, the precise bodily part or parts affected, the kind of damage, the outcomes, and the course of therapy. A variety of elements may be examined in order to determine the kind and seriousness of injuries sustained by the drivers and passengers involved in an automobile accident. For instance:

  • Were the people who were in the automobile collision wearing seat belts?
  • What sort of collision or impact took place?
  • At the moment of the incident, were the car occupant’s head and body facing forward or oriented in a certain direction?
  • Which speed—a low-speed accident or a high-speed crash—was the collision?
  • Did the airbags of the automobile that was involved in the collision deploy?

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, we highly recommend hiring an experienced personal injury attorney and not attempting to handle the case alone. A car accident lawyer in Chicago has the knowledge and experience to handle your case properly and give you the best chance for success. Get in touch with our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C., for a free consultation by calling 312-766-9619.

Types of Car Accidents That Cause Serious Injuries

An automobile accident can take many various forms, from rear-end collisions to t-bone collisions. All can have negative effects, but some are infamous for doing terrible things to people. For example, multi-car collisions are among the most dangerous incidents in which a person may be engaged because victims must endure many hits rather than just one.

Due to these factors, those engaged in multiple-vehicle pile ups frequently have brain injuries, shattered bones, and even organ damage. Because it can be challenging for emergency personnel to reach and extricate victims from their automobiles, these injuries become significantly more severe and perhaps fatal in situations involving many cars.

Given that they nearly invariably happen at high speeds and result in catastrophic casualties including traumatic brain injury, irreversible nerve damage, and internal bleeding, head-on collisions are among the riskiest forms of automobile accidents in which a person might be engaged. Seat belts and airbags can help avoid a variety of major injuries, but they can’t stop every one of them.

T-bone collisions, which most frequently happen at intersections, can also cause catastrophic injuries, including head trauma, fractured ribs, hearing loss, shoulder injury, and hearing loss. Even while some auto incidents are regarded as being serious, comparatively low impact, low-speed collisions can nonetheless result in life-threatening injuries. This is especially true when one car rear-ends another, as even little crashes can result in whiplash-like neck injuries.

Minor Injuries vs Serious Injuries Caused by a Car Accident

Now that we understand what a serious injury is, it helps to understand what a minor injury is when considering a personal injury case. While the degree of an injury might influence how drastically a victim’s accident experience is altered, it’s crucial to avoid neglecting injuries that might appear less serious. The following wounds may not be fatal or cause great injury, but they might nevertheless have a long-term effect. Following are a few typical vehicle accident injuries:

  • Contusions – otherwise known as bruises, are a very common injury as a result of the trauma experienced in a car accident. While they can be very painful and unsightly, bruises typically heal over a relatively short period of time and do not require any specific medical treatment. Some contusions are more severe and longer lasting; however, most are not. Compared to bone fractures and ligament tears, contusions are generally considered minor injuries.
  • Soft tissue trauma – Almost every muscle, ligament, or tendon can sustain one of these injuries following an accident. One kind of soft tissue injury is a sprain. You may sustain a sprain to your cervical spine (neck), lumbar spine (low back), wrist, knee, shoulder, ankle, or other body parts. Sprains can often be treated conservatively with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Again, these injuries can be very painful and may persist for weeks or even months. However, they are considered less severe than fractures, ligament tears, etc.
  • Whiplash – a sprain of the cervical spine (neck). It happens when someone’s head swings rapidly or fast back and forth. Many whiplash victims heal in a matter of weeks. In rare cases, whiplash injuries could be long-term injuries.
  • Abrasions (scrapes) and cuts – Large wounds may pose a life-threatening hazard. The vast majority of accident victims, however, are able to escape from collisions with minor scratches and lacerations. It’s crucial to take adequate care of these wounds and seek medical help when required. If these injuries are not addressed properly, they might get infected and turn into serious injuries.

Why Do Serious Injuries Happen in Car Accidents?

Without a doubt, we depend on our automobiles for a variety of regular activities and special occasions. However, it’s critical to be aware of the risks posed by these effective and potent technologies. However, other drivers’ automobiles may swiftly transform into dangerous weapons when they drive carelessly or recklessly. Drivers need to be aware of and appreciate the threats they may encounter on their neighborhood roads.

Car accident victims may sustain a variety of significant injuries that vary in severity. Accidents might result in relatively mild injuries or even serious, terrible car accident injuries necessitating lengthy recovery. The likelihood that victims need lifetime modifications is often higher the more serious the injuries. Any serious injury has the potential to impair one’s senses, movement, or fundamental bodily functions.

The Auto Accident Attorneys at Drake & Collopy, P.C., Can Take On Your Injury Case

Unexpected automobile accidents can cause serious bodily and financial harm to you. Particularly severe injuries might leave you unable to resume your previous standard of living or even return to the employment that supported that standard.

We at Drake & Collopy, P.C. are all too aware of the stress you’re experiencing after a serious injury caused by an accident. Our car accident lawyers in Chicago have dedicated their careers to standing up for the rights of accident victims. To set up your free consultation, call us at 312-766-9619 or use our contact form.