Common Signs and Dangers of Soft Tissue Injuries from Car Accidents

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Soft tissue injuries are any injuries that damage the body’s soft tissues or connective tissues. The most common symptoms of a soft tissue injury from a car accident are soreness, swelling, discoloration, and a limited range of motion that begins 24 to 48 hours after the collision. 

Do not dismiss aches and pains that develop after a crash, even if they feel minor at the scene of the accident. The impact of a car accident can cause many common types of soft tissue injuries, including sprains and whiplash, that can significantly impact your daily life. 

No car crash is worth physical and financial suffering. Visit a medical professional as soon as possible to receive a proper diagnosis and begin treatment. Once you enter the recovery process, reach out to a trusted car accident lawyer to protect your right to fair compensation.

What are Soft Tissue Injuries?

Soft tissue injuries refer to damage to either soft tissue, like muscles, or connective tissue, like tendons and ligaments. Both types of tissue are made up of individual fibers. The tissue is injured when the individual fibers stretch, tear, or become inflamed. 

A soft tissue injury occurs when the body suffers trauma, such as the overuse of a particular body part or blunt force trauma due to an accident. Soft tissue damage is common in car accidents, specifically because the force of impact is often placed on the occupants of the vehicle. 

Even in a minor collision, the exerted force can violently jolt accident victims across the vehicle. This motion can stretch the tissue beyond its normal range of motion, causing partial or complete tears in the individual tissue fibers. The force of impact can also damage blood cells within the tissue. 

The Most Common Soft Tissue Injuries in Car Accident Case

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Soft tissue is much more vulnerable to damage than harder structures in the body, like bones. This can explain why soft tissue injuries are among the most common accident injuries. Here are the most common types of soft tissue injuries in car accident cases. 

Sprains

Soft tissue sprains impact a type of connective tissue called ligaments. Ligaments connect bones to joints and give joints stability by controlling their movement. Sprains occur when a ligament suffers sudden trauma that forces the tissue out of its normal range of motion. They are a common cause of wrist pain after a car accident, as many victims grab the steering wheel to brace for impact. 

Sprains can be classified as either a partial tear or a complete tear. A partial tear may heal on its own within two to three weeks, whereas a complete tear may require surgical repair. Common symptoms of a soft tissue sprain include swelling, redness or bruising, and limited range of motion.

Strains

Soft tissue strains refer to an injury to muscles and connective tissue called tendons that connect muscles to bones. Like a sprain, soft tissue strains occur when the tissue is pushed beyond its normal range of motion, resulting in a partial or complete tear. Knee strains, also known as dashboard knee, are a common cause of knee pain after rear-end collisions.

Common symptoms of soft tissue strains include muscle pain, muscle weakness, and limited ability to move the muscle or tendon. A tell-tale sign of a strain is muscle spasms, which occur when the soft tissue involuntarily expands and contracts to enhance blood flow. 

Whiplash

Whiplash, a hyperextension injury that impacts soft tissues in the neck, is the most common type of car accident neck injury. A whiplash injury occurs when the head rushes forward and immediately snaps back, tearing several soft tissue fibers. Whiplash is often referred to as a cervical strain; however, the back-and-forth motion can also damage ligaments and even neck joints.

Symptoms of whiplash include sharp neck pain, neck stiffness, shoulder pain, and headaches. Depending on the severity of the injury, whiplash can cause a limited range of motion in the neck and shoulders. A whiplash injury often requires a neck brace for several weeks to stabilize the soft tissues.

It’s important to mention that whiplash injuries frequently cause delayed pain after an accident. Delayed pain symptoms typically begin 24 to 48 hours after the crash but can take over a week to fully develop. Seek medical care as soon as neck pain begins for the best chances of making a full recovery and avoiding the chronic pain attributed to untreated whiplash injuries. 

Contusions (Bruises)

Contusions, more commonly known as bruises, are a collection of broken blood vessels under the skin’s surface. Contusions are caused by blunt trauma. Slamming against the steering wheel, dashboard, or side window is the primary cause of contusions during auto accidents.

The most obvious symptoms of contusions are skin discoloration (blue, purple, or green) and tenderness to the touch. Contusions are also a common injury symptom for more serious damage, such as a sprain. The diagnosis of contusions is essential to confirm no further severe injury. 

Seeking Medical Attention for Soft Tissue Injuries

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It is always necessary to seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t think you’ve been injured. Several soft tissue injuries, including whiplash, cause delayed pain symptoms that may not arise at the accident scene. Sometimes, waiting until the onset of pain means you’ve overextended your already damaged soft tissues, which could worsen the initial injury. 

There are typically three stages of care for soft tissue injuries:

  1. Accurate Diagnosis: A health care provider will begin a physical examination to discuss your pain symptoms and order medical diagnostic imaging, like x-rays or CT scans. 
  2. Medical Treatment: Severe soft tissue injuries may require surgical repair; otherwise, most soft tissue damage can be initially treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
  3. Continued Care: Once the soft tissue injury begins to heal, you may be required to undergo a few rounds of physical therapy or chiropractic care to restore the tissue to full strength.

If you’re concerned about how you will pay medical bills as you wait for your car accident claim to settle, it’s important to discuss a medical lien with your care team. A medical lien allows medical professionals to render care with no upfront payment. Once your claim is settled, all unpaid medical bills will be taken from your car accident settlement

Proving Fault and Seeking Compensation After a Soft Tissue Injury

You may be eligible for financial compensation after a soft tissue injury in Kentucky. Compensation is typically awarded to individuals who are injured due to another driver’s negligence. Your initial injury costs are usually covered by the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your auto insurance policy. If the cost of your medical expenses exceeds $1,000, you may also file a soft tissue injury case against the at-fault driver. 

Your claim will list damages, or expenses caused by the injury, such as: 

  • Medical expenses, including current and future costs
  • Property damage costs, including vehicle repair bills
  • Lost wages, including sick and vacation days
  • Pain and suffering, including chronic pain 

Before speaking with the insurance company on your own, consult with a personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can help gather the necessary documentation for your insurance claim, including the car accident report, recent medical expenses, and receipts of all lost wages. An attorney can also help negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf so that you can focus on healing. 

Getting Help from an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve suffered a soft tissue injury from a car accident, you deserve fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Do not wait to receive medical attention for your injuries — seek medical care now, then contact an experienced car accident attorney to best understand your next steps. 

In the state of Kentucky, the statute of limitations for car accident injuries is just two years from the date of the accident or the date of your last PIP payment. You must file an injury claim before those two years expire for any chance at compensation. Contact David Bryant Law today to seek help for your soft tissue injury.

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David G. Bryant is certified to practice in all state courts in Kentucky, and federal courts in the Eastern and Western districts of Kentucky, Southern District of New York, Southern District of West Virginia, Northern District of Ohio, Middle District of Tennessee, and Western District of Pennsylvania. He is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.