Car crashes are horrifying to contemplate, but at some point in our lives, the odds are we will all have one and it’s probable that we’ll each have more than one. In fact, if you were licensed at 16, the odds are good that you’ll have at least one crash by the time you reach 34. A typical driving lifetime generally sees three to four crashes. A spokesman from State Farm Insurance, Dick Luedke, has stated, “If we just take collisions, the average State Farm policy holder has a collision claim once every 19 years.”
The Most Frequent Crash Injuries
When it comes to car crashes, besides injuries such as whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and torn muscles such as a diaphragm rupture, fractures are high on the list of likely bodily harm. In fact, these days, with seat belt restraints, air bags, and other automobile safety devices, some types of fractures, such as pilon fractures, have actually increased because the number of people who survive high-speed crashes has increased.
What is a Fracture?
Briefly, a fracture is some form of break in a bone. Depending on the bone and the location, a fracture can be one (or more) of the following:
- Closed fracture: Skin is not penetrated by bone.
- Open fracture (often called a compound fracture): Skin is penetrated by bone.
- Complete fracture: The bone broke into two pieces.
- Incomplete fracture: The bone cracked but did not break into two parts.
- Displaced fracture: The pieces of broken bone are not aligned at the break site.
- Comminuted fracture: The bone breaks in more than one location and is in several pieces.
A number of areas in the human body are especially vulnerable to damage in a crash.
Spinal fractures have their own specific fracture types that differ from the ones listed above:
- Compression fracture: The front of a vertebra breaks but the back portion does not.
- Axial burst fracture: Both the front and back of the vertebra break and lose height.
- Transverse process fracture: The vertebra fractures from extreme sideways movement or rotation.
- Flexion (distraction) fracture: The vertebra is pulled apart, as in a head-on car crash where a lap belt is in use.
- Dislocation: While not necessarily a fracture, this form of soft tissue and bone instability creates a situation in which one vertebra moves off of adjacent vertebrae.
Spinal fractures can be quite severe, sometimes disrupting or completely severing the spinal cord. These injuries result in permanent quadriplegia or paraplegia. Such injury scenarios can require a lifetime of care for breathing support, bowel and bladder functions, and other help with everyday tasks, like eating and bathing.
The humerus is your upper arm bone, connecting your shoulder joint to your elbow. Of all the broken bones in the USA, the humerus is broken in 3 percent of all injuries (not limited to car injuries). Depending on the location, a humerus break can be:
- Mid-shaft: The middle of the upper arm. It often does not need surgery.
- Proximal: Near the shoulder joint or on the “ball” of the humerus, part of the ball-and-socket configuration of the shoulder joint. Often the rotator cuff tendons are torn as well.
- Distal: Near the elbow joint. These fractures often require surgery to hold the bones in place so they can heal.
In high-impact crashes, forces may be severe enough to break a femur—your thighbone. The femur is the strongest bone in your body, and yet car crashes are the leading cause of femur fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Because it takes such extreme forces to break a femur, the muscle tissue, ligaments, and blood vessels are also frequently damaged. Blood clots and infections can be serious complications as well. Femur fractures are similar to humerus fractures in that a distal fracture occurs near the bottom of the bone, and may be considered a knee fracture. A break of the femoral neck is essentially a hip joint fracture.
Pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are especially vulnerable to fractures of the femur, mostly because of the height and angle at which such persons would be struck by a vehicle.
A pilon fracture occurs when the shinbone (tibia) breaks near the ankle. Sometimes both the tibia and the fibula in the lower leg fracture. These types of fractures occur with high-energy impacts and are often common in high-speed car crashes, but they can also be caused by falls from heights and by skiing accidents.
Many persons with pilon fractures will need surgery and rehabilitative care to recover, and they may also suffer complications such as an infection or permanent arthritis. They generally need a splint and/or cast plus pain management at the very least.
The face contains more bones than you may realize. Fractures of the eye orbit (eye socket), nose, midface, or mandible (jaw) are not uncommon in vehicle crashes. Most facial fractures require a long convalescence and the repair work of a skilled maxillofacial surgeon to surgically repair the damage. Sometimes plastic surgery is also needed. But even with excellent surgical repair, lifelong facial deformities can occur.
If you are ejected from your vehicle in an accident, a pelvic fracture becomes more likely, so always wear your seat belt! When a pelvic fracture is a complete break and is therefore unstable, surgery is generally required. Healing can often take many months, with an additional extensive stint in rehabilitation.
As with any traumatic injuries due to a vehicular crash, legal counsel can be imperative to gaining the compensation you need to put your life back in proper order.
Have you been in an accident where the other party was at fault, whether because of distraction, DUI, or another reason? Have you suffered a serious injury because of it? The South Carolina vehicular accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident in which the other party was at fault, South Carolina law entitles you to hold that party legally responsible for your medical expenses and vehicle repair bills, as well as any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is already running, so contact the Louthian Law Firm for help by calling us at 1-803-454-1200. If you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.