When a car crash occurs, a significant amount of force is exerted on the driver and passengers. The occupants of the vehicles absorb at least some of the trauma of the accident, even when safety measures work as they should. This can result in a wide range of injuries, including what is known as soft tissue injuries.
Understanding Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury refers to damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This type of injury is categorized as either overuse injuries, which are suffered over time, or acute injuries, which can be caused by trauma. Typical acute soft tissue injuries include:
- Contusion. A contusion is a type of hematoma, or collection of blood outside a vessel, that is typically the result of a hard blow. While a contusion can be a simple bruise, it can also be very severe and occur on a bone. Bone contusions can cause swelling, stiffness, pain, and difficulty in movement.
- Sprain. A sprain is a stretch or partial tear to a ligament that connects two bones together, most often caused by a hard twist. Sprains can cause pain, limited mobility, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight.
- Strain. A strain refers to the stretching or tearing of muscle or the band of tissue that attaches muscle to bone. A strain can cause pain, muscle weakness, limited motion, swelling, and discoloration.
- Whiplash. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a strong back-and-forth movement, often caused by a rear-end car accident. Injury victims can experience pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision.
Treating a Soft Tissue Injury After a Car Accident
Treatment for soft tissue injuries can vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury but can include:
It’s important to note that the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that even with timely, appropriate care, soft tissue injuries may take “a prolonged amount of time to heal.”
Diagnosing a Soft Tissue Injury Can Be Challenging
While there is no question that a soft tissue injury can cause significant pain and require serious medical treatment, these injuries can be difficult to identify because:
- The symptoms of these injuries may not be apparent immediately. Accident victims are likely to experience a rush of endorphins at the time of the crash, and the body’s “fight or flight” response will kick in. This can mask the injury symptoms for hours or even days.
- Many of these injuries are not easily viewed with typical diagnostic tests such as an X-ray or MRI. In some cases, signs of soft tissue damage will not appear on these images, even when an injury is present. A doctor can arrive at a diagnosis after talking with the injury victim and performing a physical exam.
- Treatment plans can vary greatly from patient to patient. Even for those who experience a similar injury, what works in one situation may be ineffective in another. So, each injury victim and his care providers may need time to find the solution that will heal the injury as fully as possible. This may result in prolonged care and significant medical bills over time.
Soft Tissue Injuries and a Virginia Personal Injury Claim
After a crash, insurance companies will investigate the victim’s injuries. They will want solid medical evidence that points to a specific diagnosis and a set treatment plan. Soft tissue injuries often do not fit neatly into these boxes, and insurance companies may try to use the nature of these injuries to avoid providing the compensation that is owed to the victim. That’s when an experienced attorney can help victims ensure they obtain the compensation they need. A lawyer can:
- Gather evidence to support the soft tissue injury claim
- Provide a fair, accurate estimation of the cost of future care
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Be a voice and advocate for the injury victim throughout the process
Accident victims should not underestimate the seriousness of a soft tissue injury. While it may not be as immediately and fully debilitating as other types of injuries, it can cause significant pain and result in serious health problems if left untreated.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a car accident, call our Fairfax office today, or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch with a member of our team who can answer your questions and help you understand your rights.