In a car accident, your body is subjected to huge forces, whether you are the driver or a passenger. While no one would dispute the forces involved in a high-speed car crash, even a crash at low speeds can do a world of damage. An average vehicle weighs around 2000 pounds, and so even a crash going ten miles per hour would result in an impact force of over 3 tons! A larger vehicle, say 3000 pounds, would nearly double the impact force at just ten miles per hour. That sheer amount of force on your neck, back, and spine can create severe injuries.
As the passenger in an automobile that is involved in an accident, you are vulnerable to the same injuries that the driver can suffer, no matter how the accident occurs or how fast the car is going.
Traumatic brain injuries (or TBI) are one of the most common injuries that can be suffered by the victim of an auto accident. The symptoms of a TBI can range from mild to very severe and depends on the area of the brain that is traumatized, and how much damage has occurred. Though there may be no outward signs of trauma such as cuts or bruising, if the brain has been hit against the skull with force, internal brain bleeding, swelling, and bruising can occur.
A neck injury called whiplash is the most common injury to result from a car accident. Whiplash can result in soreness and pain, or it can result in disc dislocation in your neck and upper back, which can cause nerve impingement, and severe pain and disability.
The spinal cord is tough and delicate at the same time. With the force involved in an accident, things like bone fragments and even soft disc matter can tear into your spinal cord tissue. This can cause destruction of nerve cells which results in a reduction or complete loss of control, feeling, and function of your extremities. It can also cause extreme chronic pain.
Back injuries are most prevalent in the lower back after a car crash. There are many different types of back injuries that can occur such as herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, sprains, strains, and muscle, tendon, and ligament tears. These injuries range from mild to severe, and can cause severe pain and a limited mobility, even after being treated. It’s not uncommon for a back injury to show up long after the car accident happened, and these injuries tend to be long-lasting and difficult to effectively treat completely.
Injuries to the face and facial structures can be caused by the dashboard, flying glass, airbag, or objects within the car set into motion by the crash. Again, the severity of the injuries can be mild to severe and can result in broken bones such as a broken jaw or other bones of the face, missing or broken teeth, or the need for reconstructive or cosmetic surgery to restore normal appearance.
The severe forces involved in a car crash impact can have a devastating effect on your internal organs. Fractured ribs can puncture lungs or other organs. Blunt force trauma can cause internal bleeding, and these injuries are nearly always life-threatening and in need of immediate attention.
Even though you weren’t driving the vehicle that had the accident, you can still suffer both short and long term psychological trauma because of the accident. Anxiety about being in a vehicle, post-traumatic stress disorder, and emotional stress are just a few of the psychological injuries that can plague you after an accident. If you’re injured and suffering immobility and/or the inability to work and provide for your family, depression can set in as the stress of your situation overwhelms you. These psychological injuries can have long-ranging negative effects on every area of your life.
One of the most horrible things about being the passenger in a car accident is that you have no control. You’re not driving, so you have no control over the vehicle you are in, and you have no control over any of the other variables either, such as the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident. Because of this, a difference range of legal issues develops. As the injured victim, you’re concerned with who will be the one to compensate you for your injuries.
First, you have to find out who was at fault in the accident. If the driver of the car you were in was at fault, you will need to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company for compensation, because they are responsible for anything that happens to anyone in their vehicle. They are financially responsible for whatever happens due to their negligence.
In California, it is the driver’s responsibility to carry the proper insurance to make sure that no one injured due to their mistakes has to go without compensation for their injuries. You may feel odd filing a claim against a friend or family member’s insurance company, but that is why the insurance was purchased.
If you were the passenger in a vehicle where another vehicle’s driver was at fault, then you will file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. They will be the company that will compensate you for your medical injuries, time off work, and so on.
If you were in a car with a driver who was at fault for the accident, but doesn’t have insurance, you will have to rely on your own insurance to cover your claim. This compensation will be provided by your Uninsured Motorist Coverage, if you chose to invest in it when you bought your auto insurance policy. The same applies if another driver was at fault, but they do not have insurance.
Of course, there are many different types of situations that don’t fall within one of those covered here. The smartest move you can make is to contact a qualified personal injury attorney in California to help you deal with the insurance hassles, and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve as the victim of an auto accident.