According to the AA, South Africa’s road deaths are amongst the highest in the world with an average of 14 000 every year. However, this staggering death toll is only part of the problem. Although specific data on the number of injuries caused by road accidents is unavailable, historical data suggests that there are 4.6 serious injuries and 14.9 minor injuries for every fatal injury. If these figures are taken into account, road accidents in South Africa have resulted in 287 000 fatal and non-fatal injuries.
Research shows that the following are some of the most common serious injuries suffered by car accident victims.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury also known as a TBI refers to the brain damage caused by an external source that does not originate from a stroke and is diagnosed by loss of consciousness, memory loss, skull fracture, or seizures.
Two types of severe brain injuries typically occur in car accidents, namely: An open head injury and a closed brain injury. An open head injury occurs when the bony skull of the brain is penetrated, resulting in the brain’s protective layers being exposed and a closed brain injury is caused by the slamming of the head into the steering wheel or dashboard, causing the brain to impact its own skull. This causes closed brain injuries which are non-penetrating, to happen. Injury can also happen when the head shakes backward and forward in an impact, and the brain is shaken within the skull thus leading to internal bruising and damage.
Symptoms range from mild (irritability, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, sensitivity to light and sound) to severe (blurred vision, vomiting and nausea, dilation of pupils, slurred speech).
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
A car accident can cause injuries such as sudden blow to the spinal cord leading to broken vertebrae, spinal cord bleeding or sensitive tissues being crushed or dislocated resulting in victims being left with various levels of disability such as quadriplegia, tetraplegia and paraplegia.
The severity of your injury and where on your spinal cord it occurred will determine how much control you have over your limbs following a spinal cord injury. Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury after an accident include:
● A sudden, severe neck or back pain that does not go away
● Weakness in one or both arms, legs, hands, feet, lips, or tongue
● Numbness or tingling that starts at the top or front of the body
● Loss of bowel or bladder control
Limb Loss and Amputation
Certain body parts such as the leg, finger or toe can be left severed in a car accident or be badly damaged enough to require surgical amputation and this type of injury can have disabling effects on the victim.
The effects of amputation are long-lasting as losing an arm or a leg can change your life in ways you never imagined. You have to adjust your life to carry out normal daily activities and for many amputees, pain is a lifelong burden.
Painful nerve damage and phantom limb syndrome are just two of the many problems amputees could face and many car accident victims who lose a limb also have to recover from other life-changing injuries.
When a traumatic event occurs, the victim may experience a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. Some may appear immediately, while others may take days or weeks to surface, which is why, no matter how bad your pain or injury is, you should seek medical attention after a car accident. Severe headaches, concussions, and even Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have a better chance of being treated if they’re caught early. Here’s a list of other common car accident injuries:
Other Common Car Accident Injuries
● Facial injuries in car accidents can be caused by broken glass or by impact with a hard surface.
● The term “whiplash” refers to injuries related to the neck, such as neck pain after an accident.
● Shoulder injuries can occur in a car crash when the hands brace against the steering wheel or dashboard.
● Broken bones are common after a car accident. The most common broken bones are broken legs, ribs, arms, and wrists. A severe injury is a fractured pelvis.
● Any part of the body caught between two objects will sustain a crush injury.
● When a crash forces the body against an object like the steering wheel, or when there is flying debris which can cause damage to internal organs.
● When a vehicle catches on fire after a crash or if someone’s skin comes into contact with hot fluids, surfaces, steam, or chemicals, there is a risk of severe burns.
● A car accident might not just leave you physically injured. You might also experience mental and emotional distress.
Have You Sustained Severe Injuries in a Car Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident, and you or a passenger have been seriously injured, Adendorff Attorneys Inc. can assist you with your personal injury case against the Road Accident Fund.
We are personal injury lawyers with offices in Cape Town and Pretoria but offer nationwide services. WhatsApp us on 076 911 7300, and we will get back to you.