Minor Car Accidents Can Still Cause Major Injuries in Utah
Statistics show that tens of thousands of car accidents happen in Utah every year. In 2015 alone, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) counted more than 60,000 crashes for a shocking average of nearly 165 accidents per day. The good news is that many of these accidents are minor – but the bad news is that even minor accidents can result in serious injuries. Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson looks at some major injuries commonly caused by minor auto accidents, with a special focus on whiplash neck injuries, which are “the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
5 Common Injuries from Minor Car Accidents in Utah
DPS data shows that in 2015:
- 70.1% of Utah crashes resulted in no injuries (property damage only)
- 29.4% of Utah crashes resulted in injuries ranging from minor to incapacitating (including possible injuries)
- 0.4% of Utah crashes were fatal
As the statistics show, the majority of accidents fortunately do not result in bodily harm. However, it is surprisingly easy for even a fit and healthy driver or passenger to sustain painful, disabling injuries after being involved in a low-speed, seemingly trivial accident, such as a parking lot fender-bender. Needless to say, cyclists and pedestrians are at even greater risk due to their nearly complete lack of protection from external impact.
As statistics, doctors, and attorneys can all confirm, car accidents don’t need to involve high speeds or massive vehicles to inflict devastating injuries. Unfortunately, the soft, unarmored human body is simply not well adapted to absorb the forces exerted in auto accidents, even those which take place at low speeds. Some of the most common serious injuries from minor car crashes include:
- Concussions (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/TBI)
- Cuts and Bruises
- Scrapes and Skin Abrasion
- Sprain and Strain Injuries
- Steering Wheel-Related Chest Injuries
It’s also important to remember that low-speed auto accidents can also cause emotional trauma, even if the physical injuries are minor. Any accident can be a disturbing experience that leaves the victim with deep fear and anxiety related to vehicles.
What is a Whiplash Injury in an Auto Accident?
Whiplash neck injuries merit their own section simply due to their astounding prevalence. Though most commonly known by the colloquial term, whiplash is sometimes described as “cervical strain,” “cervical sprain,” or “cervical acceleration-deceleration injury,” where the word “cervical” simply refers to the portion of the spine contained in the neck (specifically, vertebrae C1 through C7). Astonishingly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that whiplash claims accounted for a full quarter of the overall payout for accident injuries in 2007, amounting to nearly $9 billion. If you suffered whiplash in a minor (or major) Utah car accident, you may be able to get compensated as well.
But first: what is whiplash, and how do you know if you have it?
Whiplash occurs when your neck is forced to move back and forth beyond its normal range of motion. It’s easy to visualize how whiplash occurs when you picture a rear-end collision, which is the type of accident most likely to result in whiplash.
When the vehicle is struck from behind, the occupant is jostled back and forth by the impact. A seatbelt holds the person’s torso in place, but the neck is unrestrained, allowing exactly the sort of rapid, violent motions that can tear or overextend ligaments, muscle fibers, and tendons. Injuries to these structures are called “soft tissue injuries” (in contrast to bone fractures), so you may hear whiplash described using this phrase as well.
Medical studies have indicated that whiplash (and other tissue damage) appears possible at surprisingly low speeds. For example, a 2008 study published in the Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine showed that among 151 occupants of struck vehicles in minor crashes, “113 were diagnosed by a M.D., D.O. or chiropractor within five weeks of the crash with complaints attributed to the crash.” Though acknowledging that “few data exist to study actual ‘whiplash’ complaints in real world U.S. minor rear aligned crashes at delta-V less than or equal to [9.3 MPH],” the study still showed cervical spine injuries to be more common than injuries to lower portions of the spine. Specifically, “The main ICD-9-CM diagnoses were 40.6% cervical, 22.5% lumbar/sacral and 10.2% thoracic and the main AIS1 diagnoses were 29.7% cervical, 23.2% lumbar/sacral and 14.3% thoracic.”
You may be suffering from whiplash, and should consult with a Salt Lake City car accident lawyer immediately, if you experienced any of the following symptoms or other signs of injury following a car accident:
- Jaw Pain
- Muscle Spasms
- Neck Pain/Stiffness
- Tinnitus (Ringing Ears)
Salt Lake City Car Accident Attorney for Crash Victims
Utah personal injury attorney Darwin Overson has more than 33 years of legal experience and handles a wide array of injury cases throughout the state. Whether you are looking for a Salt Lake City truck accident lawyer, a motorcycle accident lawyer in Salt Lake City, or a car accident lawyer for legal guidance, Darwin Overson has the skill and experience you need to maximize the value of your claim. To talk about your injury in a free and confidential legal consultation, contact the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 today.