The latest statistics published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that at least 906 serious injuries occurred in motor vehicle crashes in West Virginia in 2019. There were at least 260 fatalities that same year. Those statistics mark a decline in both injury and deadly crashes over previous years. The state aims to significantly reduce occurrences even more by 2030.
When many people are asked what types of injuries commonly result from motor vehicle accidents, they often point to recoverable ones, such as bruises, cuts or scrapes, concussions, whiplash, and broken bones. While the occurrence of these is certainly inconvenient, they’re unlikely to leave behind lasting reminders of what happened. Individuals who suffer more lasting, permanent injuries that result from car accidents may never have a chance to return to life as it was before their car crash.
Data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that doctors see as many as 1.1 million patients suffering burn-related injuries each year. Those same statistics show that at least 20,000 of those injuries affect at least 25% of a patient’s body. Burns can occur in motor vehicle accidents when gas tanks ignite, electrical issues go unaddressed, and chemicals like engine coolant boil over.
Third and fourth-degree burns are most apt to permeate under a patient’s multiple layers of skin, impacting the underlying tissue and nerves. Situations in which this occurs may leave a patient with lingering nerve pain, functional impairments, and extreme susceptibility to infection.
Patients who suffer third and fourth-degree burn injuries are also more likely to need skin grafts and experience disfigurement. The latter may not only cause a patient to suffer from self-perception issues, but scarring can leave patients in pain and with limited ability to do things as they did pre-crash.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Statistics compiled by the Mayo Clinic show that automobile accidents are the primary cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for 50% of the ones that occur annually.
Spinal cord injuries don’t always result in permanent paralysis or quadriplegia. The prognosis that patients face is largely contingent upon:
- The level of their injury
- The immediacy and quality of care they receive
Individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries resulting in lingering paralysis may require regular:
- Surgical intervention or hospitalizations
- Occupational or physical therapy
They may also need a wheelchair, adaptive devices and technology, and access to an accessible vehicle and home to ensure some degree of independence.
According to Spine Universe, patients who suffer spinal cord injuries in their 20s can expect to incur the following amount in expenses across their lifetime:
- Individuals with lower-body paralysis (paraplegia): $2 million
- Individuals with upper-level tetraplegia: $5 million
- Individuals with lower-level tetraplegia: $3 million
Both types of tetraplegia described above affect the spinal cord and all four limbs.
Most of us wouldn’t likely think about eye problems as one of the permanent injuries that most commonly result from car accidents. However, it’s a possible outcome if you suffer blunt force trauma in a crash. In recent years, one Scandinavian university study tried to hone in on how many patients’ visual injuries resulted from automobile accidents. They determined that at least 28.5% of them do.
Some of the most common eye injuries resulting from car accidents that can leave behind lasting damage include:
- Vitreous hemorrhages: The vitreous humor is the jelly-like material surrounding our eyes. Blunt force trauma, such as our heads bumping into the windshield or dashboard, can cause our eye’s blood vessels to rupture. The accumulation of blood may make its way into the vitreous humor, causing visual impairments.
- Optic nerve damage: Head injuries often result in an uptick in pressure on a person’s brain. This increase in pressure can affect their optic nerve, leading to blurry vision.
- Retinal detachments: The thin membrane that occupies the inner portion of your eyeball is the retina. It sends messages to your brain about what you see. The force of a crash may result in a detached retina, a condition that must be repaired immediately. Individuals who don’t have it fixed quickly may end up being blind for the rest of their lives.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
One of the more catastrophic permanent injuries that someone may suffer in a Charleston auto accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These can result from a variety of situations, including:
- A vehicle colliding into a pedestrian or bicyclist whereby they strike their head on a car or the ground
- A motorist striking their head on the roof of the vehicle, front or side windows, the dashboard, or some other rigid object
- An errant object (such as an object that flies off a vehicle or a broken piece of glass) impaling someone’s skull and brain
The three scenarios above are just three examples of ways in which individuals may suffer a head injury that leaves behind permanent brain damage in an auto accident.
Many individuals will immediately or soon thereafter show TBI symptoms such as:
The human brain is quite resilient and tries to repair any damage. However, its ability to do so depends on the severity of the injury. Patients with moderate brain damage may experience improved symptoms with mental health counseling and occupational or physical therapy. Those who suffer more severe TBIs may experience lingering cognitive impairments that don’t allow them to return to living the life that they once did.
When Should You Reach Out to an Attorney for Help in Your Car Accident Case?
Many of the permanent injuries that most commonly result in car accidents as described above aren’t like ones such as whiplash or broken bones. While any injury is likely to be inconvenient, most individuals ultimately fully recover from relatively minor injuries. The same can’t be said about the ones detailed above.
Our car accident attorneys have seen where injuries like the above-referenced ones can take someone’s life and completely change its course. It only makes sense that West Virginia law allows individuals who have suffered life-altering injuries like these to hold the motorists responsible for doing so liable for their actions.
Determining how much to ask for when making a demand isn’t always easy. You have to add up any medical costs that you’ve already incurred and try to determine what your future ones will be.
Our DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC attorneys have extensive experience tallying up costs and making justifications for other damages, such as loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to get the ball rolling on securing fair compensation in your case.