Driving is a serious business. It is potentially a dangerous one. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost three million people were injured in some type of car accident in 2020. In the same year, close to 39,000 people involved in a motor vehicle accident lost their lives.
There is always a possibility of getting into an accident on the road. Weather, mechanical failures, medical emergencies, and other factors are all part of the car accident landscape. Unfortunately, so is reckless driving. Too many people have been injured by the carelessness of other drivers on the road.
There is no substitute for defensive driving when it comes to staying safe when behind the wheel, but accidents happen, regardless. It therefore is worth looking at what personal injuries are the most common on the road, what causes them, and what you can do if you are the victim of a negligent driver.
What Are Some Car Accidents Injuries Commonly Seen?
It is best to start with whiplash, since it is a common injury that most car accident victims end up sustaining to one degree or another. Whiplash happens when the head gets violently thrusted from one side to the other, typically forward and backward when a car is rear-ended.
When a car is hit from behind, for instance, the body of the passenger or driver gets thrown forward while the head stays in place. This causes severe extension and/or flexion to the neck. Whiplash can cause anything from neck pain and stiffness to cognitive or psychological problems. It is worth noting that whiplash does not always present itself immediately.
A scrape or cut happens from either an object inside the vehicle or a part of the car hitting you. Anything from your sunglasses or coffee cup to the windshield being shattered could cause you to acquire a scrape or cut. Although usually not serious, these types of injuries can require a visit to the hospital or medical facility where stitches or dressings are necessary.
Broken and shattered bones are common in serious car accidents. The most common injuries in this category are fractures to the ribs, arms, legs, and pelvis. In some accidents in which a person gets crushed, bones are shattered, which transcends the usual six to eight weeks of healing time. In some cases when a bone is crushed, the bone and the patient’s ability to use it are never the same, and surgery is most often needed.
Internal bleeding is another injury that happens quite frequently in car accidents. Sheer blunt trauma or injury can cause damage to the blood vessels, causing blood to leak into surrounding tissue. Sometimes you can have internal bleeding without even knowing it. Some of the symptoms are dizziness, weakness, low blood pressure, and shortness of breath.
Chest injuries are serious. Your ribcage protects your vital organs. A punctured chest or blunt force trauma from a car accident could cause you a serious or fatal injury to your heart or lungs. Immediate medical treatment is critical.
Head injuries are perhaps the worst of the common car accident injuries. A blow to the head could cause a concussion; internal bleeding of the brain, which could cause death; or brain damage. The possible short- and long-term injuries from an injury to the head are numerous.
What Types of Car Accidents Cause the More Serious Injuries?
Rear-end collisions can range from fender-benders to fatal collisions. Whiplash happens often as a result, but neck or spinal injuries happen as well. As with most accidents, it depends on the rate of speed of the striking vehicle.
Rollover accidents are not only frightening but also deadly. A driver or passenger could easily suffer a head or neck injury, get crushed from the car rolling over, or be ejected from the vehicle. Fatalities are not uncommon in rollover accidents because of the force that is created.
T-bone accidents usually occur when a driver runs a stop sign or red light at an intersection and hits another vehicle. This often happens unexpectedly and could cause severe injury or death. Whether a car gets struck on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, the person on the side getting hit faces the type of impact that very seldom allows an escape from serious consequences.
Head-on collisions double the speed of impact. Consequently, they are usually the most serious. They usually happen when a driver either becomes distracted, falls asleep, or swerves to avoid something. This type of accident can be deadly even at low speeds. It is important to note that two cars colliding head-on at 25 mph have an impact speed of 50 mph, which makes it an extremely serious accident.
What Should You Do if You Are Injured by a Negligent Driver?
All states, and Washington DC, carry some version of either a fault or no-fault insurance system. In Washington DC, a no-fault system is in effect. This simply means that in the case of an accident claim, insurance companies will not hold any driver at fault. Your policy may cover medical treatment, lost wages, and other reasonable costs.
Having personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will add extended coverage that your required liability will not cover. However, it will not cover lost wages or pain and suffering. This coverage is worth getting but is optional.
The time afforded to file a no-fault claim is 60 days. However, if you file a no-fault claim, you waive your right to file a claim against the other driver later. The exceptions are when your medical costs exceed the amount of PIP coverage, or when you suffer a serious impairment; this includes scarring, a disfigurement, and a disability.
It is important to note that Washington DC, along with the states of Maryland, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, uses a system that is called contributory negligence. Basically, this means that if you file a lawsuit and are even a small percentage at fault for the accident, you cannot receive any compensation.
Contributory negligence is the opposite of comparative negligence, used in many other states. This means that you will pay the amount equal to the percentage that you are at fault. For instance, if you are 20 percent at fault, the person against whom you filed the claim will pay 80 percent. Contributory negligence, on the contrary, is an all-or-nothing deal.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Injured Clients Recover from Their Accident
If you were injured in a car accident, reach out to the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of your accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.