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Soft Tissue Injuries in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Individuals who are injured in motor vehicle accidents must sustain a variety of injuries ranging from minor injuries to very serious injuries. While some individuals believe that high-impact collisions are the only ones that result in serious injuries, this is not always the case. Victims of low-impact collisions sometimes suffer from debilitating injuries.

Low-Impact Collisions

It is not uncommon for motor vehicle accident victims to suffer soft tissue injuries at low speed. Some victims have sustained life-altering injuries when they were involved in accidents as low as 2.5 miles per hour. The largest scientific study on low impact motor vehicle collisions found that 29 percent of participants sustained soft tissue injuries in accidents at 2.5 miles per hour. In comparison, 38 percent of participants sustained soft tissue injuries at 5 miles per hour. These injuries consist of the bones and joints stretching and tearing, often involving tears in the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Additionally, it is not uncommon for nerve damage to be associated with these injuries.

Hyperextension-hyperflexion may be present in rear end collisions. These injuries occur when the body absorbs the speed from the hit, which causes the neck to snap back and forth. This sudden jolt may cause damage to the neck’s soft tissue. The ligament may tear, the disc may herniate or the disk may protrude, all of which can be very serious injuries. One of the most serious injuries that can result from soft tissue injuries is a traumatic brain injury.

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injury

Motor vehicle accident victims should be aware of the symptoms associated with soft tissue injuries so that they can receive prompt medical treatment if they sustain an injury of this nature. Soft tissue injury victims may experience blurry vision, neck stiffness, neck pain, jaw pain or tingling in the shoulders. Other symptoms include vertigo, nausea, headaches or concussion.

Accident victims may also experience behavioral symptoms including restlessness, nervousness, erratic behavior, tension or concentration problems.

Effects of Soft Tissue Injuries

These injuries often cause a substantial amount of pain. Sometimes victims continue to feel pain even after the injury has healed. This is more common in situations in which scar tissue has formed. Scar tissue can irritate the nerves or disrupt the nerves, which is what manifests. Other long term effects include continued muscle spasms, narrowing of the space between the disc and the spine and a curvature of the spine.

Other Injuries

In addition to soft tissue injuries, motor vehicle accident victims may suffer from other injuries. Some common injuries include back pain, joint pain or an aggravation to preexisting injuries. The combination of soft tissue injuries and these other injuries can result in more serious cases.

Proving Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries can be difficult to prove through objective evidence. Insurance adjusters may attempt to deny claims for accidents in which property damage is minimal. Insurance defense attorneys may allege that motor vehicle victims are fabricating injuries or exaggerating them in order to prevail with the case or to increase the amount of damages that they are awarded. Another difficulty of proving soft tissue injuries is that they do not manifest themselves in a visible manner. They do not appear on x-rays. They may also not appear in other common diagnostic tests, such as MRIs or CT Scans. Typically, the victim’s complaints of subjective pain help pinpoint this injury. With less subjective evidence, these injuries are easier to refute.

Despite these challenges, accident victims can still recover compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering. However, the victim has the duty of showing the causal link between the accident and the injuries. One of the most effective ways of establishing a claim regarding a soft tissue injury is to seek medical treatment to document the injury after the accident. It is also important for accident victims to follow their doctor’s advice to aid recovery.

Legal Assistance

Individuals who have suffered soft tissue injuries may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney who is experienced with this type of claim. A personal injury attorney is often knowledgeable about what type of evidence will substantiate the victim’s claim. He or she may sometimes recommend retaining the services of a medical expert who can help identify the victim’s injuries, the causal connection between the accident and the injury and the extent of the victim’s pain and suffering.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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