While car insurance companies do everything they can to make car accidents sound like harmless “fender bender” events, the fact is that auto accidents are serious events. No matter how minor the damage looks to the vehicles, there is no denying what a car crash really is – two large metal objects that weigh thousands of pounds colliding into each other, usually at speeds faster than humans can run. Nevertheless, insurance companies and their attorneys often argue that so-called “minor impacts” or “soft-tissue injuries” should not be compensated because no real injuries occurred. The science says otherwise.
What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
There are generally two broad types of injuries after a car accident – soft tissue and hard tissue. Hard tissue injuries are generally known as fractures. These are caused where a bone is crushed, cracked, or somehow broken.
A soft tissue injury, on the other hand, occurs when a muscle, tendon, or ligament is torn or damaged in some way. Common injuries are:
Ligament injuries come in three levels of severity, as explained by Physio Works.
- Grade 1: Mild (Referred to as a “sprain”)
- Grade 2: Moderate (More serious “sprain”)
- Grade 3: Severe (“Sprain” that involves torn ligament.)
This type of injury usually involves overexertion or pulling of one’s muscles, resulting in inflammation and pain. Typically, doctors recommend the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), plus time for the muscle to repair itself and the swelling and inflammation to go down.
Another characteristic injury of auto collisions is a tendon injury. A tendon connects bone to muscle tissue. For less severe tendon injuries, pain management and steroid injections may be used to control the pain and allow the tendon to stretch and heal naturally. However, in serious personal injury cases, a torn tendon may become separated and require surgical repair.
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How Car Accidents Cause Soft Tissue Injuries
Maybe you remember your science classes from grade school. If so, you might also remember Newton’s Laws of Motion. To summarize Newton’s First Rule of Motion, an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, until acted upon by some outside force. The Third Rule says, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action.”
When you are sitting inside of a car and the car is traveling 45 miles per hour, so are you. You and the car are both traveling at the same speed. When your car hits another object, such as a negligent driver’s vehicle that just ran a red light, the car is acted upon by an outside force that makes it stop moving at the same rate it was previously moving. You, however, continue moving until something stops you. This is usually a seat belt, a dashboard, a steering wheel, or, if not using a seat belt, the windshield.
This back-and-forth jerking motion caused by you moving forward in your seat can create whiplash, a painful neck injury that can last for months.
How are Soft Tissue Injuries Worse Than Fractures?
Every situation is different, but a bone can heal fairly quickly. A cast can be put in place to hold the bone steady and promote healing, as well. Still, a muscle or ligament injury can require complex arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. Most non-displaced, closed fractures do not actually require surgery, whereas a lot of torn ligament injuries will require surgery in order to fully recover. Moreover, it is very difficult to fully stabilize a ligament or muscle, which can lead to easy re-injury or permanently limited range of motion.
Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP – Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for Compensation
Sadly, even though Johns Hopkins Medical School recognizes the severity of soft tissue injuries, New York’s laws were written to limit recovery in personal injury cases. Since New York is a ‘no-fault’ state, your own insurance company is required to pay the reasonable cost of your medical care, unless you suffer a “serious injury.” New York law defines this under the Insurance Code, Sect. 5102(d), including things like death, dismemberment, disfigurement, and other permanent injuries. However, there is also a catch-all provision that essentially states that you can collect against the at-fault party for pain and suffering if the injury is severe enough that it lasts more than 90 days during the 180 days since the crash, and it must have had a significant impact on your daily life for at least that length of time.
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Hiring a Long Island Personal Injury Attorney to Fight for You
The laws are written for insurance companies. The insurance companies represent their own interests, not yours. If you or someone you love is in a car accident and have suffered serious soft tissue injuries, don’t delay in calling the Long Island personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP to schedule a free consultation. Do not try to handle your auto insurance claim alone. The call is free and confidential, and you can reach us 24/7. There may be strict deadlines for filing your claim, so do not delay. Reach us 24/7 on our emergency line at (866) 580-1960.
(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz