What Is It Like to Be Involved in a Car Accident?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What Is It Like to Be Involved in a Car Accident?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

No one gets in his or her car, buckles up, and heads out on the road expecting to be involved in a collision.

However, accidents happen daily in the United States, and Chicago is no stranger to car accidents either.

The state of Illinois saw 83,392 car crashes alone in 2015, which tells you how frequently crashes occur. If you average that out per day, it was approximately 228 crashes daily in 2015.

It is hard to imagine what it is like to be involved in a collision, and the experience you have will still be unique, even if you and your neighbor both experience a rear-end collision. The type of accident will ultimately determine the trauma you might experience – but other factors such as the speed of each car, number of passengers, what was inside each vehicle, and additional outside factors influence what it is like to be involved in a crash.

Regardless, understanding what happens to your body in and after the accident is essential. Knowing this makes it more likely you will seek medical treatment, even if you feel like you are not injured. Furthermore, it helps you better understand why speaking to an accident attorney could prove to be beneficial – especially in more severe accidents.

What Chicago Drivers Might Experience If Involved in an Auto Accident

You often hear about what happens to your vehicle in an accident, and you might even see the crash tests where your car is slammed into a solid object and the test dummies come out unscathed. While they look okay, what happens to their body? After all, the average human is not made from high-impact absorbing plastic, and it often reacts differently than the standard dummy.

Apart from the injuries, there are emotions and memories you might notice in an accident as well.

First, we will discuss a few shared experiences you might have right before and during the crash:

Most Victims Never Forget

If you were to ask someone about their car accident a few years ago, they are likely to remember how they felt and certain details from the crash that are as clear as if they happened yesterday. Car accidents are extremely traumatic events; therefore, it is easy for a person to recall the details.

Furthermore, you can see why post-traumatic stress disorder is common after a car accident. A person can relive their incident, and they might even re-experience the emotions and fear each time they try to get in a car.

Most Victims Report the Moments before the Accident Were Slow

Instead of everything going by in a blur, most victims that saw the crash occurring will say that it was as if it were in slow motion. For example, they recall seeing a vehicle pull out in front of them, trying to hit the brakes, and what felt like a lifetime before the actual collision took place.

The Airbag Hurts More Than You Realize

One surprising realization is that airbags are not big fluffy cushions that protect you in a crash. In fact, they come out of the steering wheel and dashboard with gusto and can cause injuries themselves. However, hitting your head on the dash or wheel would cause more serious injuries than an airbag’s impact.

Most victims who have had the experience of an airbag going off in their face remember the smell (which is like gunpowder), the burning sensation, but may not remember what happened much after that.

Post-Impact, You Might Not Feel “There”

Car accidents release an enormous amount of adrenaline, which is your body’s natural response to the collision. Likewise, the impact of an airbag combined with going from a moving car to a stagnant position creates confusion. If you suffer a concussion or lose consciousness, you might feel even more out of it.

Some people realize instantly they were in an accident, while others take a few minutes to orient themselves and realize what has happened.

Seatbelt Mechanics

Seatbelts do save lives when they are worn properly. You are traveling down the highway at 65 miles per hour, which means your body is also traveling at that speed. Once you make an impact, you go from 65 miles per hour to 0 in seconds. Your body stops its momentum the moment the vehicle does if you wear your seatbelt.

However, if someone in the car is not wearing a seatbelt, they move around the vehicle and strike you or other passengers, which can cause serious injuries – including the fatalities of those who were seat belted in the car properly. Therefore, it is essential that everyone wear a seatbelt, regardless of age.

Neck Stiffness and Back Soreness

Some people report stiffness and soreness immediately after, while others feel nothing until that evening or even the next day when they wake up.

Remember that, while the airbag and seatbelt stopped you from moving, seatbelts come across the chest and over the shoulder but your head and neck still take a good jolt. This whipping motion might result in whiplash, which can be incredibly painful.

Head Trauma

The speed of the vehicle, items not secured in your car (including people), and the type of collision determine whether you experience head trauma. Head-on collisions might increase the risk for head trauma, including a traumatic brain injury because the impact of both vehicles traveling at similar speeds creates a catastrophic crash.

Your vehicle has head restraints on the back of each seat that are explicitly designed to keep your head from whipping backward and causing serious injury, including TBIs. However, if you do not adjust them properly, your head could still whip backward and you could suffer serious, if not catastrophic, injuries to your head, neck, and spinal cord.

Commonly Injured Areas

After the accident, you have a few areas that are prone to injury – some that might not be seen just by looking yourself over. These injuries are the reason it is vital to seek medical attention right away, regardless of how you feel. An emergency room physician is trained to diagnose a person after a car accident, and they can look for signs of injuries that you might not have symptoms of quite yet:

  • Chest Injuries – Chest injuries can be anything from a broken collarbone after an airbag impact to a crushed sternum. The force of body restraints can also cause serious chest injuries, such as broken ribs.
  • Abdominal Injuries – Stomach, spleen, intestines and other vital organs in the abdominal cavity could be injured minorly or majorly. You might have a bruised spleen, while other times, a spleen ruptures and requires emergency surgery.
  • Lacerations and Cuts – A common injury includes lacerations and cuts. These might be on your limbs, face, or other extremities. You could have lacerations from broken glass or objects moving around in the vehicle. Debris from the car as it breaks apart can also cause lacerations. Some of these cuts are minor, while others might require stitches.
  • Fractures and Breaks – Bone fractures and breaks are equally common. You might fracture your fingers, hand, or wrist on the airbag; you could also suffer a more severe injury like a pelvic fracture. Depending on the position of your legs and feet in the crash, you may have a broken leg, ankle, or foot.
  • Internal Bleeding – Internal bleeding is not something you feel. Often, by the time you show symptoms, you are already in a serious, life-threatening situation. The endorphins released post-accident will mask symptoms of internal bleeding, including pain or bloating.

Paying for the Medical Costs, Post-Accident – How an Attorney Helps

After a severe car accident, you might have one or a few of the injuries listed above. If you did not cause that accident, why should you take on the burden of paying for your medical bills, trying to cover expenses when you cannot work, or worrying about how you will provide for your loved ones now that you are disabled?

An accident attorney can help you with these issues by negotiating with insurance companies or aggressively seeking damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. Injury attorneys, like those at Malman Law, are advocates. They know that their clients did not cause the accident, and they work hard to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, disability, pain, and suffering.

If you experienced a serious motor vehicle accident and you would like to understand your rights, speak with one of our attorneys today during a free case evaluation. Call 888-625-6265 to schedule your consultation 24/7 or send us a message online

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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