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Motor Vehicle Accident Trauma

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FAQ: After an Auto Accident

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Legal Services > Motor Vehicle Accident Trauma

Understanding the Seriousness of Motor Vehicle Trauma:
What Every Accident Victim Should Know

Injuries from motor vehicle accidents can and often times lead to slowly developing and potentially debilitating injuries. Such injuries can be symptomatic for several months, however, they may be symptomatic for many years, or may even become permanent. Also, often times motor vehicle accident victims are not properly diagnosed, and as a result, they receive inappropriate medical care for their injuries. It is for this reason that we recommend our clients to have an immediate and thorough evaluation by a competent medical provider.

Insurance Companies Push for Quick Settlements - Which is for Their Benefit Only

Every insurance company knows about such injuries, and they also know that you sometimes don't feel seriously injured right away. That is why they attempt to contact you directly for a quick and permanent settlement, which can often times be disastrous. Remember, insurance companies are responsible to their shareholders and, like any other major business, their main goal is increased profits. For example, if medical problems or medical bills arise after final settlement is made by the defendant's insurance company, the defendant's insurance carrier is not responsible to pay them.

Pain Medication Only Can be Disastrous to an Accident Victim's Recovery

Most accident victims are treated immediately in the emergency room. However, emergency room physicians are only trained to diagnose serious or life threatening injuries, such as broken bones, damaged organs, internal bleeding, etc. Once such injuries are treated and there is no immediate threat to the victim' s life or well-being, the victim is then usually prescribed pain medication and advised to follow-up with their physician. Pain medication does not cure medical problems; it alleviates the pain symptoms. Soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, discs, and nerves, need oxygen to function and move properly. When you take pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory medication without proper additional medical treatment, scar tissue can develop, often leading to permanent, limited motion. Limited motion can have a devastating effect on a victim's nerves and blood flow. Scar tissue can turn into its own source of pain, causing chronic and permanent discomfort, as well as other symptoms.

Using pain medication without medical treatment, such as physical therapy, can actually make a victim's situation worse. The victim's body is feeling better due to the artificial decrease in symptoms through the medication, and they may be aggravating their injury by misusing the injured and affected areas.

Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms

Soft tissue injuries usually lead to one or more of the following symptoms: muscle stiffness, spasms, neck pain, headaches, numbness and tingling, mid-back pain, low-back pain, difficulty sleeping, irritability, memory loss, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

Spinal Disc Injuries - Symptoms Can Take Months to Develop

Spinal disc injuries do not often lead to serious symptoms immediately, but can develop over a period of time to severe and permanently disabling injuries. In fact, people can go about their daily lives with disc herniations and experience limited pain or other symptoms for many months. However, as discs narrow and dry-out, vertebrae come closer together. That is one reason why older people decrease in height. Unhealthy discs may also cause boney outgrowths to form, narrowing the openings in the vertebrae where the nerve roots pass. The result is often a painful arthritic condition that can cause permanent disability.

Picture A Jelly Donut

Pressure on injured discs can cause outer ligaments to stretch and the nucleus to bulge. Continued pressure can lead to a torn, ruptured or herniated disc. Tears on the outer casing allow the contents of the discs to squeeze out. The simple way to understand this is to imagine a jelly donut. The outside is soft and the inside of the donut is filled with jelly. Vertebral discs in your spinal cord also have a soft outside and a gelatinous material in the center. Motor vehicle accidents can lead to torn, ruptured or herniated discs as discussed above. Picture the jelly leaking out of a tear in the donut. The vertebral disc itself or the escaped material from inside the disc can press against a nerve, causing severe pain, nerve irritation, numbness and tingling in a victim's arms or legs and/or a painful inflammatory reaction.

When discs bulge or rupture, they lose their ability to cushion and absorb shock. The rest of your spinal cord can weaken, which may lead to stiffness and pain. Also, it is important to note that discs do not have their own blood supply. They depend upon proper movement of the spine to transport the nutrients and lubrication needed for healthy joint movement.

What You Need to Do After an Accident

If you have been in an automobile accident, immediately seek treatment in the emergency room, and follow-up with a competent orthopaedic physician. The orthopaedist will review your symptoms and make suggestions as to treatment, most times with a prescription for physical therapy. If you feel prolonged symptoms of back and neck pain (over 60-90 days), you should speak with your physician about an MRI or CT-Scan, as these tests are the best way to diagnose a herniated disc.

he Most Common Injury Sustained by Automobile Accident Victims: Whiplash

The most common injury sustained by victims of motor vehicle accidents is whiplash. Whiplash is most commonly sustained by riding in a motor vehicle that is either struck from behind or collides with another object. When the head is suddenly jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits, the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine and head can be overstretched or torn. The discs can bulge, tear or herniate. Vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position, reducing range of motion. The spinal cord and nerve roots in the neck can get stretched and irritated. The occupants of the vehicle can suffer considerable soft tissue injury, the car may be only slightly damaged.

The resulting instability of the spine and soft tissues can result in headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, pain in the shoulder, arms, and hands, reduced ability to turn and bend and even low back problems. As the body attempts to adapt, serious symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months later.

My Job as Your Attorney

I trust that this information is helpful and provides you with a better understanding of the potential serious problems motor vehicle accident victims may encounter. My point is for you to take your treatment seriously; have an open discussion with your physician; and, be sure to tell your physician all of the symptoms and problems you are or have been experiencing. As your attorney, I cannot make you better; that is your physician's job. The only way your physician can attempt to make you better is if you provide him or her with every detail of your complaints or problems. A full, complete and accurate diagnosis with the proper treatment is your number one goal. As your attorney, I can take this information and translate it into full and complete compensation for your injuries.

James D. Famiglio, Esquire

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FamiglioLaw.com Law offices of James D. Famiglio, P.C. 811 N. Providence Road Media, Pennsylvania 19063
EMAIL: jfamiglio@famigliolaw.com 610-359-9220 office 610-306-2929 cell

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