Vehicles are driving more miles in the United States, and that means the risk of car accidents is higher, too. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased 2.2 percent year-over-year, and the fatality rate increased 2.6 percent.
If you’ve been in a car accident and feel fine afterward, you may be tempted to assume you have zero injuries and that the accident was minor. Unfortunately, you may have sustained serious injuries that just aren’t apparent yet. The shock or adrenaline you’re feeling after an accident may mask pain or injuries.
Delayed symptoms can lead to life-long ailments if they’re not treated. Ignoring the potential for injuries could also damage your chance of success if you decide to pursue a car accident lawsuit later. Here’s what to be aware of.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash in car accidents can cause serious bodily damage. According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful and rapid back-and-forth neck movement, occurring most often during rear-end car accidents. Whiplash can cause chronic neck pain and life-long complications. If whiplash occurs in someone who has reduced mental or physical abilities, it can lead to increased social isolation.
The following are some signs that you’ve experienced an injury from a car accident, even if you experience any of these days or even weeks after the accident. If you can get medical help immediately after any car accident you’re in, that’s best to protect your health. But you should also be aware of these symptoms that may emerge later. Even if they seem minor, they could be indicators of serious problems.
Back pain can be a sign of whiplash, which can cause serious injuries like muscle damage and soft tissue injuries, pinched nerves, a herniated disc or a sprain. Watch out for tingling and numbness and any back pain that is more severe than you’ve experienced in the past.
Headaches and Dizziness
Headaches caused by car accidents may be a result of whiplash, concussion, a neck injury, a brain injury or a blood clot. Dizziness may occur due to neck instability or a concussion. You may also experience headaches or dizziness as a result of emotional stress from the accident, as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck and shoulder pains are a sign of whiplash and could also indicate a herniated disc or other spinal injury, or ligament sprains, muscle sprains or damage to nerves, joints or bones. Neck and shoulder pain may occur in isolated areas or may radiate down a shoulder to affect the entire arm and hand. Other delayed symptoms include neck stiffness or a reduction in range of motion.
Stomach pain can arise several days after an accident and indicate damage to internal soft tissues.
Bruises that develop or worsen in color over time may be an indication of internal bleeding.
Numbness and Tingling
Tingling and numbness may be signs of nerve damage, which can occur due to a herniated disc. Unusual sensations throughout the body should also be monitored. Any tingling, numbness or weakness that radiates throughout a body part, like an arm or shoulder, can be a serious sign.
A concussion or nerve damage can cause blurry vision or impaired vision.
Problems speaking, swallowing, yawning or chewing may be indicators of a jaw injury or injury to the esophagus or larynx.
Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in one or both ears that may occur from whiplash. Injuries like a brain injury, nerve or vascular damage, or jaw injury may cause tinnitus, too. Stress may be another cause of tinnitus.
Mental Health Issues
Lingering pain in the body may show up as a symptom when it affects mental health. Anger and increased irritability, sadness and depression, trouble concentrating, fatigue and sleep problems are all signs of mental health issues like post-traumatic stress that may be a result of the accident.
Stay Protected If Delayed Car Accident Symptoms Arise
Because many pain symptoms may occur after you leave the scene of a car accident, you should avoid saying anything like, “I feel fine,” right after an accident. In some cases, an admission of zero pain after an accident may hurt your ability to prove delayed pain was caused by an accident. Another attorney could claim your pain arose because of a factor not related to their client’s negligence.
You should also avoid signing a release of liability form right after an accident, and definitely not until you’ve seen a medical professional. The sooner you can get a medical consultation, the better protected you’ll be. Even if your doctor gives you a medical evaluation that is positive, you should still stay vigilant of the warning signs mentioned above and get further treatment if any occur.
Avoid settling a claim before you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” which means a condition has stabilized, and further improvement is unlikely. At this point, you’ll have an idea of the true scope of your injuries.
In any case where someone else’s negligence is to blame for a serious car accident you’re in, you should contact a Birmingham personal injury lawyer to stay protected. The Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums provides free no-risk consultations. Your health and finances deserve protection. Contact us for a free consultation.
Kids are back in school, and that might mean that your teenager is hitting the road more frequently. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, more than 2,300 teens in the U.S. were killed in crashes, and more than 235,800 were treated in emergency rooms due to motor vehicle injuries.
Teens face unique driving threats when they’re behind the wheel and as passengers with other teen drivers. Here are some dangers to talk about with your teen so they stay safe driving during this school year.
Take Extra Care with Newly Licensed Drivers
Newly licensed teens make up one of the most at-risk groups of teen drivers, reports the CDC. The fatal crash rate is nearly twice as high for 16- and 17-year-olds compared to 18- and 19-year-olds.
If you have a teen who is just starting to drive, use these tips to keep them safe:
Set a good example. Buckle up every time you’re behind the wheel, especially when your teen is riding with you. Don’t look at your phone, keep your eyes on the road, lower the music, and employ safe driving habits.
Stop your teen from texting. There are apps like LifeSaver that prevent teens from using their phones while driving.
Spy on your kid. It might sound extreme, but you could install a dash cam to monitor your teen’s driving behavior, analyze it, and deem whether or not they’re OK to continue driving without you in the car.
Keep practicing with them. Even though your teen got their license, the more hours they put behind the wheel, the more of a driving expert they’ll become. Use nights and weekends to ride along with your teen and provide feedback to make them safer drivers.
You could also set a limit on who can ride along in the car with them. If your teen gets into a car accident and someone else is injured, their negligence could result in a lawsuit against your family.
Reiterate Sober Driving
Your child is not legally allowed to drink alcohol until they’re 21 years old anyway, but most parents realize substance abuse in high school may be a temptation. As a parent, talk with your child about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs. Drinking before driving:
- Decreases muscle coordination, which negatively impacts balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing
- Makes it more difficult to detect danger
- Impairs judgment, self-control, reasoning, memory, concentration, speed control, information processing capability and perception
If your teen is driving to and from a party, remind them not to drink, or drive them there yourself. You could even buy a breathalyzer test (although the accuracy isn’t guaranteed), and use it on your teen if you ever suspect they’re about to get behind the wheel after drinking.
Put a Cap on Speed
The CDC reports teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and maintain shorter distances between their car and the car they’re driving behind. When you add other teen passengers to the mix or distractions like loud music while driving, speeding can occur more often.
Parents can actually control the speed their teens drive at with technology like the Derive Systems X3. If your kid is just driving to and from school and isn’t hitting any freeways to get there, you can make sure they’re not speeding at 60 mph down your neighborhood road. Certain car brand services offer a similar type of speed limit setting.
Protect Your Family
Now that you know the risks teen drivers face, it’s important to realize that other drivers sharing the road with them face risks, as well. Accidents happen, and if your teen driver is in one, it’s vital you have prepared them to take the proper steps to stay safe, legal and protected. Tell them to:
- Pull the car over to somewhere safe without leaving the scene of the accident
- Do not admit fault in the accident
- Call emergency services
- Document the scene of the accident (states of the cars, any injuries)
- Get medical treatment
- Obtain insurance information from the other party
Obviously, your teen needs insurance before driving to stay legal. You should also warn your teen before they drive that someone else may be at fault for the accident, and that’s why it’s so important to pay attention to driving conditions and document the accident scene.
Another driver’s negligence may cause serious injuries to your child. In that case, you may want to contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer.
It might help to write down what to do after a car accident in a checklist your teen can carry in their glove compartment. A car accident can be scarier than a pop quiz, and as a parent, you can make sure they’re prepared.
You may have rented a car for work, because you’re out of state, because your vehicle is in the shop or for a whole host of other reasons. When you get in an accident in a rental car, you might be wondering what the implications are. In some cases, the rental car company may have been the one to blame for your accident.
Here are steps to take after an accident in a rental vehicle, and how to determine whether or not the negligence of the rental car company is to blame.
What to Do After an Accident in a Rental Vehicle
When you drive in a rental car, you should be prepared to take similar steps that you would if you were in an accident while driving your own car.
If you or someone in your vehicle is seriously injured, you should contact emergency medical services. Dialing 911 is wise, anyway, since police can come to the scene and file a police report that documents the damage. You should take any offer for medical attention you receive, even if you don’t feel your injury is serious. It could be more damaging than you realize.
Document the Scene
If you’re able to, take photos of the cars involved in the accident. Or, ask someone else for help in doing so. If there are witnesses at the accident scene, ask for their contact information and for them to stay at the scene to talk to police. Request a copy of the police report.
Exchange Contact Information
Get the full name, phone number, email address and insurance information of all other drivers involved. Do not state that you are driving a rental car. In some cases, stating this information could be damaging. For example, another party may accuse you of driving recklessly because you weren’t in your own vehicle.
Contact the Rental Car Company
Get in touch with the rental car company about the accident. There might be instructions in your paperwork or within the car about which number to call. If you can’t find a specific number to call, contact the rental car office where you got the car. You will need to fill out an accident report with the rental car company. Before you drive the rental car, it’s a good idea to look over information about what to do after an accident, as well as to read through insurance the rental company provides.
Call Your Insurance Company
You should get in contact with your insurance company as soon as possible, as well. In some cases, you may want to contact a Birmingham car accident attorney before you contact your insurance company. If you suspect another party’s negligence was to blame for the accident, including the car rental company that may have provided you with a dangerous vehicle, an attorney can advise you on what to say to your insurance company.
Keep Track of Medical Records
You should keep organized medical records and document your pain and injuries as they progress. This type of information can be beneficial if you decide to pursue a car accident lawsuit later.
In most cases, the rental car company is not liable for damages. Payment for those will be provided by your insurance company, and possibly by the insurance company of other parties involved in the accident.
In some cases, it is the car rental company that put you in danger or contributed to the cause of the accident. When that happens, you may choose to file a lawsuit against the rental car company with help from a Birmingham car accident lawyer.
When a Rental Car Company May Be Negligent
When you use the vehicle of a rental car company, you are putting your health and safety in the hands of a vehicle someone else is providing you. Rental car companies have a responsibility to keep their customers safe. Some examples of rental car company negligence include:
- The rental vehicle has not been properly maintained, including having a faulty brake system
- The rental vehicle has a defective part in it, like defective tires or a recalled part
- The rental car company has received complaints about a vehicle but has failed to inspect those
When a rental car company knows there is a dangerous element in a vehicle and rents it out anyway, it may be deemed negligent. When you’re in a serious car accident due to negligence that results in medical treatment, hospital bills, time missed off work and the like, you deserve full compensation.
Don’t assume a car accident is your fault or the fault of another driver. If you suspect an element in your rental vehicle made it dangerous to drive, contact a car accident attorney for a free consultation.