From fender-benders to catastrophic collisions, car accidents victims are likely to experience physical and mental trauma. Every day about 7,000 people are hurt in car accidents. Many more are injured in other accidents. With traffic collisions happening thousands of individuals are left to pick up the pieces after an auto wreck every year. Recovery can be a difficult and long process, especially if the accident resulted in severe physical injuries. While it can be difficult to determine just how long it will take to recover from a car accident, there are some factors that can be examined. Immediately following a car accident, you should evaluate yourself for injuries. It’s important to note that not all injuries are visible, and some injuries may not be recognizable for days. Soft tissue injuries are common after a car accident. These injuries occur when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are stretched or torn. Whiplash is one of the most common soft tissue injuries and can take anywhere from weeks to months to completely heal and go away. Some people may experience symptoms for longer.
In addition to soft tissue injuries, head injuries are common. While your brain is well-protected by your skull, a violent jolt can cause your brain to strike the inside of your skull. Concussions are often a result and can be incredibly serious if left untreated. Traumatic brain injuries can take months or even years to recover from. In some cases, however, death is the end result. After a car accident, you’ll likely experience a variety of emotions including shock, denial, disbelief, anger, guilt, anxiety, fear, and sadness. These emotions may manifest immediately after the accident or, in some cases, they may appear days, weeks, or even months after. Often times, emotional trauma can take longer to recover from than physical injuries. Coping with the onslaught of emotions is important so you can get back behind the wheel and start to feel normal again. As we mentioned above, there’s no way to tell when you’ll reach your official recovery; however, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of recovering faster. Make sure you see a physician after your accident, follow up with them when necessary, and take their recommendation seriously especially if surgeries or physical therapy is needed. Take the time you need to rest. Try to avoid strenuous activity when possible. You may also consider trying therapy to help cope with the event. While you may assume you’ll be able to return to work quickly after a car accident, this isn’t always the case. Depending on your injuries, doctor’s recommendations, and treatment plan, you may have to take more time off than you’d like. It’s important to understand that going back to work too early has the potential to worsen your condition. Unfortunately, you can’t rush the healing process. In order to feel comfortable about returning to work after a car accident, take these tips into consideration.
• Follow up with Doctor’s Appointments: After your initial examination with a healthcare professional, it’s more than likely you’ll be given directions for a treatment plan. You’ll also have to schedule follow up appointments with your primary care physician. It’s imperative to follow the physician’s instructions and attend those appointments. If you choose not to you may develop additional symptoms as time passes. These will need to be documented so you can revise your recovery plan. You’ll also want to know about these symptoms, so you can report them to your insurance company. The recovery plan and follow up appointments will give you an idea of when you can go back to work. If you end up neglecting your medical responsibilities and decide to end your recovery plan early, there may be a variety of consequences. You may worsen your conditions or develop a new one. At this point, you may lengthen the time before you can go back to work. You may also have difficulty receiving compensation for your injuries if you go against your doctor’s advice.
• Document Evidence of All the Symptoms and Complications You Experience: Immediately following your accident, if you are able to, it’s a good idea to record what you’re experiencing physically and mentally. When you report that information to your doctor, they may have an easier time determining the scope of your injuries. As you begin to recover, keep documenting what you’re experiencing. By doing so, your doctor will be able to help you decide when it’s best to return to work. If you begin to experience complications, bring those up as soon as possible.
• Prepare Your Doctor’s Note to Return to Work: The doctor’s note you receive will be your ticket back to work. It’s important to have proof of your injuries for your employer. Not only should this excuse the time you’ve missed, but it will help you and your employer decide what you are physically able to do. Your doctor’s note should include documentation of your injuries, relevant test results and x-rays, records of your follow up appointments, and the recovery plan you’ve followed through on. This will prove to your employer why your time off was a medical necessity.
• Avoid Going Back to Work Too Soon: There is no right or wrong time to go back to work after an accident, but it’s important to avoid going back too soon. You may be worried about the state of your job or financial burdens; however, it’s more important to focus on your recovery. If you go back to work before you’re able or against the advice of the doctor, you may worsen your condition. Going back to work too soon can also have an impact on the compensation you receive for your accident. Remember, it’s always best to follow the documented advice of your doctor.
• Know What to Do If You Re-Injure Yourself or Discover You Can’t Go Back to Work: Even if you’ve followed through with your recovery plan and go back to work at the right time, there’s always a chance you may re-injure yourself or your previous condition could flare up. If this is the case, you’ll want to inform your employer and schedule a doctor’s visit as soon as possible. If you return to your place of employment and discover you are unable to return to your previous position, discuss the issue with your employer. You may be able to work in another spot until you’ve healed more. You may also want to go back to the doctor. They’ll evaluate your injuries to determine why you can’t go back to work yet. They may inform you that you need to take more time off work.
Wounds from these accidents can vary from minor scrapes and bruises to much more serious injuries. Generally, accidental injuries affect each body part a little differently. Treatment and recovery after injuries also differs depending on the body part and severity.
Here’s what medical professionals know about auto accident injuries from head to toe.
• Head and brain injuries: Drivers and passengers are susceptible to head injuries due to hitting a windshield, side window, roof, steering wheel, loose objects or other people. A common injury is a concussion caused by a blow to the head. With a concussion (also called a traumatic brain injury), your brain bounces around inside your skull. This causes chemical changes in your brain. You may not notice symptoms right away. You should know the symptoms such as headache, neck pain, nausea or dizziness. Sometimes the symptoms can take days or weeks to appear.
Treatment: You’ll want to see a health care professional. The primary treatment for a mild concussion is rest. We recommend you cut back on physical activities and activities that require a lot of concentration. If more severe concussion symptoms are present, you may need to go to the hospital. You may have bleeding under the skull (subdural hematoma). Bleeding in the skull is a medical emergency.
Recovery: For mild concussions, most patients notice symptoms diminish in 2 to 3 weeks after onset. The recovery from a subdural hematoma is more complicated and depends on the severity of the injury.
• Facial injuries: Hitting the steering wheel, airbag, another part of the car or a loose object can injure facial skin, teeth and the bones underneath.
Treatment: Cuts may need stitches. Scrapes may be bandaged. For the more serious injuries, such broken facial bones, surgery may be needed.
Recovery: The time needed will depend on the severity of the injuries. Scrapes will take a few days to weeks to heal. Surgical repairs may take weeks to months to heal.
• Neck injuries such as whiplash: It’s common for rear or side impact crashes to cause your neck to snap quickly. Injuries can range from mild neck strain, to dislocation of vertebrae (the bones of the spine).
Treatment: Mild neck strain may be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. A dislocation or other serious vertebrae injury may require surgery.
Recovery: Whiplash symptoms can last several weeks. Recovery time after surgery will vary depending on the procedure needed. Full recovery can take months.
• Collarbone (clavicle) and rib injuries: Your seatbelts help keep your whole body safe. In a major accident, your body’s weight can quickly press forward against the shoulder belt. This can injure your collarbone. In more extensive crashes, rib injuries can also occur.
Treatment: A broken collarbone may heal on its own, usually immobilized with special braces. If the damage is more extensive, surgery may be needed.
Recovery: The healing process may take 6 to 16 weeks.
• Back and spinal cord injuries: Back and spinal cord injuries can be among the most traumatic in an accident. As the car rapidly shifts positions under you, the small discs along your spine can be twisted or pushed out of alignment. Your back bones can even be fractured. This can result in spinal cord injuries, which often result in reduced feeling or function loss in extremities. Along with injuries to the spine, soft tissues such as back muscles and tendons can be strained or pulled. Ligaments can be sprained.
Treatment: For minor back pain, we may recommend rest and ice or heat application, along with over-the-counter pain relievers. If pain doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks, you may want to see you primary care physician for an evaluation and get a referral to see a chiropractor. We have a number of treatment options for back pain. More severe injuries, such as spinal cord injury, broken bones or muscle tears, may require surgery.
Recovery: Minor muscle strains should heal within weeks. Muscle tears that need surgery may require therapy and months to heal. Bones that are surgically repaired normally require 3 to 4 months to fully heal. With spinal injuries, your body will do most of its healing work in the first 6 months after the injury. Physical functions that aren’t restored in the first year after injury will likely not return.
• Internal injuries: Your seatbelt will help protect you in an accident. But wearing the lap belt incorrectly can cause internal injuries as your entire body weight is rapidly pressed against the belt. During a crash you can sustain injuries to muscles in the torso, along with your heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys or bowels. If you have pain in your torso after a crash, you should promptly see a health care clinician. Internal injuries can result in internal bleeding. In that case, immediate medical care is essential. The signs of internal bleeding include abdominal pain and/or swelling, dizziness or fainting, development of an area of deep purple skin and headache, seizures or loss of consciousness.
Treatment: For muscle strains, we may recommend RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). If minimal internal bleeding is suspected, the doctor may observe the patient to see if the bleeding will stop on its own. For severe internal bleeding, surgery may be required.
Recovery: Times will vary widely depending on the extent of the injuries and the treatment required. In the case of internal bleeding, the best outcomes result when prompt professional medical care is received.
• Lower extremity injuries: Your seatbelt will help protect you from some lower extremity injuries. Without a seatbelt, your legs may hit the dash and/or the steering column. Common injuries include leg, knee and foot sprains (ligament injury), strains (damage to muscles or tendons) and bone breaks.
Treatment: For minor injuries, we may recommend RICE and over-the-counter pain relievers. For broken bones, a cast or other external support may be applied. For more severe breaks, surgery may be required. We may also recommend physical therapy.
Recovery: A broken leg may need from 6 to 8 weeks. As with other injuries, more time will be needed for more severe injuries. Therapy may be in important part of recovery.
• Psychological injuries: People naturally focus on the physical injuries of a crash, but a traumatic event can cause mental health issues, too. The mental trauma can affect both the driver and passengers. Issues can include post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Treatment: A counselor may suggest anxiety management, meditation or other tools to reduce anxiety.
Recovery: There is no set time for recovery from the psychological trauma. Seek guidance from a mental health care professional if you have concerns about the mental aspects of recovery. Both the injuries and treatment can vary widely after an accident. We’ve laid out some general recovery timelines, but actual recovery will depend on injury severity and the patient’s age and general health. Younger healthy patients tend to recover faster. Accident injuries heal faster if you carefully follow your clinician’s advice, participate in physical therapy as recommended, get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet. To increase your family’s safety while traveling, always wear your seatbelt, drive the speed limit and avoid distractions while you’re driving. Another good safety reminder is to know the location of the emergency room or trauma center nearest your home, work and other places you spend lots of time. You can find nearby health care facilities online. The time saved in knowing where to go in an emergency can save the life of someone your care about.
Car accidents are often traumatic events and should be taken seriously. If you’ve been injured after an accident and are uncertain about the state of your job or finances, an experienced attorney will have answers to your questions at the same time, seeking legal representation may help you get the compensation you need to focus on your recovery, instead of worrying about possible financial burdens.
Free Consultation With A Car Accident Lawyer
When you need legal help to recover for personal injuries in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506