Soft issues injuries are common following a car accident, since the force of the collision causes trauma to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although most people will recover fully from their soft tissue injuries, accident victims injured due to another driver's negligence are legally entitled to seek compensation for their expenses.
Soft Tissue Injuries vs. Hard Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are defined as injuries that occur when the muscles, tendons, and ligaments experience trauma or overuse. Aside from auto accidents, soft tissue injuries are commonly the result of athletic activities.
Injuries from a car accident are often broken into two categories: soft tissue injuries and hard injuries. Hard injuries are those that involve damage to the skeletal system such as broken bones. In most cases, hard injuries are considered more serious since they have a longer recovery time and are more likely to result in ongoing discomfort or reduced range of motion.
Types of Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries related to an auto accident can occur in the neck, shoulder, back, arms, and legs. Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury that results when the neck moves forward and backward rapidly, similar to the motion you'd use to crack a whip. In addition to causing neck pain, this type of injury often results in headaches, stiffness, fatigue, and dizziness. Sleep disturbances, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and depression can sometimes result as well.
The terms sprain and strain are often used interchangeably, but these words actually refer to two different conditions. A sprain occurs when there is stretching or tearing of ligaments; a strain occurs when there is a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. They are judged as first, second, or third degree based on the severity of symptoms.
Contusions occur when there is bruising of soft tissue and discoloration of the skin. They are easily diagnosed by the tenderness of the area and the purple to bluish-black appearance of the skin.
Treating Soft Tissue Injuries
The most common treatment protocol for soft tissue injuries is remembered with the acronym RICE:
- Rest. Avoid putting weight on or moving the affected area. For most people, this will mean taking time off work following the car accident that caused the injury.
- Ice. Use cold packs for 20-minute intervals, several times a day.
- Compression. Use elastic compression bandages to prevent additional swelling.
- Elevation. Elevate the injury so it's higher than your heart while you're resting. This helps to reduce swelling.
Braces and slings are often used to immobilize the affected area to allow the body to heal. However, these devices are generally only used on a short-term basis. The goal of treatment for soft tissue injuries is to allow you to return to your regular activities as soon as possible.
The need for medication depends upon the severity of your injury. Minor injuries may require nothing more than acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but prescription painkillers may be prescribed if you're experiencing a great deal of discomfort.
Receiving Compensation for Your Injuries
If your injuries were caused by another driver's negligence, you can receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Time off work
- Pain and suffering
If you were partially at fault for the accident, you're still eligible to receive compensation. However, Louisiana's comparative fault system will reduce your settlement by your assigned percentage of fault.
It's vital that you document the source of your injuries by seeking medical care as soon as possible. Since soft tissue injuries are common among athletes and those engaged in vigorous physical activity, you want to clearly establish that your injuries were related to the car accident.
The laws surrounding compensation for personal injury claims can be complex, and insurance companies are often in no hurry to resolve a claim. To increase your odds of successfully receiving a fair settlement, you'll want to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Schedule a free, no-obligation case review with the attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault to learn more.