Personal injuries are the physical damages inflicted upon a person's body in an accident or through an act of violence or malice. Personal injuries may be intentional or unintentional, but the hallmark is actual physical harm, rather than property damage or emotional damage alone.
Because a personal injury is associated with both economic and non-economic damages, those who suffer such harm through the negligence or recklessness of another person may be able to seek financial compensation from those liable for the accident or injury.
Personal injuries range from minor to catastrophic injury, but even seemingly minor injuries can result in financial loss from medical bills and lost wages due to missed work.
In many accidents, there is no harm and no foul. For example, if a person trips on an obstructed walkway and stubs his or her toe, there are no associated damages, and thus the injury is non-compensable. However, if the person trips on an obstructed walkway and breaks his or her arm, the negligent property owner may be held liable for the costs associated with treatment of the injury.
While some relatively minor injuries take only days to heal, other catastrophic injuries can be permanently disabling. Many of these occur in automobile accidents or serious industrial accidents. These catastrophic injuries require careful litigation to ensure that the injured accident victim is compensated sufficiently to care for his or her immediate and future medical care and for the financial support of his or her dependents.
Any injury which inflicts pain and suffering and is accompanied by economic losses may be compensable. Burn injuries, eye injuries, back injuries, head injuries, and occupational illnesses are but a few of the injury types seen in personal injury lawsuits. Injuries commonly litigated in civil complaints include whiplash, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury.
In general, whiplash is a neck injury associated with car accidents, but it can occur from any action or force that causes hyperextension of the neck. Symptoms of whiplash include the following:
Often, these symptoms do not present themselves immediately upon infliction of the trauma. Often, symptoms of whiplash do not appear for hours or even days after the accident. This is one reason it is so important that accident victims do not make any statements or sign any waivers of responsibility. The true repercussions of an injury may not be known to you at the time of the accident. Let your attorney handle the insurance companies for you.
Whiplash is a painful neck injury that can have long term implications, but in general, it is healed relatively quickly with proper treatment. A spinal cord injury, however, is typically permanently disabling.
The spinal cord is a complex bundle of nerves responsible for relaying messages between the brain and the rest of the body. It is integral to the function, movement, and sensation of the body, and it is protected by the vertebrae of the spinal column. However, the spinal cord is quite fragile and it does not have the ability to heal itself as do other parts of the body. If the spinal cord is compressed or severed, permanent disability or even death may occur.
Spinal cord injuries can occur from disease, but the leading causes of spinal cord injuries from accidents:
The extent of a disability related to a spinal cord injury depends upon the location and severity of the injury itself. If a spinal cord is cut at the neck or compressed by a broken neck, full or partial paralysis occurs below the level of the injury, often resulting in tetraplegia, or quadriplegia. If the spinal injury occurs lower in the spine, the injury may result in paraplegia, or paralysis of the legs.
While damage to the spinal cord cannot be repaired, immediate and proper treatment can prevent further damage. For example, if a person suffers a broken neck, it can be fatal if it compresses the spine in such a way that it disrupts breathing, heartbeat, or other functions necessary for life. However, in many cases, the neck can be stabilized to eliminate the compression of the spine, and the person may make a full recovery.
Just as the spinal cord itself is highly complex, so is the treatment and care of such an injury. Often, a person who suffers from a spinal cord injury is left with limited mobility and sensation. Learning to live with a disability can be intensely difficult both physically and emotionally.
A traumatic brain injury is any head injury which temporarily or permanently disrupts the function of the brain. Each year, more than 1.5 million people suffer a brain injury in the United States. Fortunately, the majority of these are mild concussions from which the injured people recover. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that traumatic brain injury is permanently disabling for 85,000 people, and for 50,000, it is fatal. The agency estimates that more than 5 million Americans are currently living with TBI-related disability.
The leading causes of traumatic brain injury include motor vehicle accidents, falls, assault, and the head being struck by or against an object. Among children and the elderly, falls - including falls on playgrounds or from bicycles - are the leading cause of TBI, but for most age groups, traffic accidents are the leading cause of serious brain injury.
The effects of TBI may be temporary, as in a mild concussion, or they can be lifelong and debilitating. Common effects of traumatic brain injury include the following:
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident caused by someone else's recklessness or negligence, obtaining financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way to protect your family's security and your own well-being in the aftermath of a serious accident. Call the Law Firm of Oklahoma to learn more.