If you are wondering which types of injuries are the most common following auto accidents, your Springfield auto accident lawyer will probably tell you it is whiplash. Whiplash is basically one type of soft tissue injury. According to reports from the National Transportation Safety Board, an auto accident occurs every 10 seconds in the U.S. In 2005 alone, there were 6 million auto accidents, including more than 43,000 deaths and more than 2 million injuries. So, what are soft tissue injuries and what typically causes them?
What is a soft tissue injury?
One of the most common injuries suffered by victims of an auto accident is a soft tissue injury. A “soft tissue” injury is defined as an injury to the supporting parts of the body, excluding bones. Soft tissues basically include tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles, which can be torn or stretched beyond their natural limits. These injuries typically cause pain, swelling, bleeding, and loss of function.
Soft tissue injuries can be difficult to detect
Soft tissue injuries often do not appear on x-rays, so you may not know you have suffered this type of injury until you experience certain symptoms. The symptoms appear immediately or they make take hours or days to show up. The most common symptoms of a soft tissue injury are pain and inflammation or swelling.
Whiplash injuries are very common
One of the most common soft tissue injury following auto accidents is whiplash, more formally known as Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS). This to the neck—better known as whiplash. Even a small fender-bender can “whip” the head forward and then back with enough force to cause damage to the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck. Neck pain from whiplash injuries is the most frequently reported injury
Common factors contributing to whiplash injuries
Most whiplash injuries result from rear-end collisions. But, there are three personal factors that can contribute to the severity of the injury: gender, height, and seating position. Studies show that females are slightly more likely to suffer a neck injury in an auto accident. They are also more likely to develop long term complications. According to experts, the difference is attributed to the difference in the neck musculature of males and females. On average, men have stronger necks than women. As far as seating position, drivers are more often at a higher risk for whiplash than passengers because drivers tend to sit forward as opposed to back in their seats. Drivers will need to use the steering wheel and watch the road. Also, passengers sitting in the back seat typically have a lower risk for whiplash than others.
The height of the victim and head restraints
Height is also a factor because of the head’s proximity to the head restraints in the vehicle. In other words, a shorter person will not have to adjust the head restraint to be protected. On the other hand, a taller person’s head may be too high to benefit from an unadjusted restraint and, therefore, is more susceptible to whiplash. New height requirements for front seat head restraints have been imposed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Head restraints are not mandated for rear seats.
Head restraint positioning
The best position for head restraints is even with the top of the head. However, if the restraint cannot be adjusted to that height, it should be positioned at least 3.5 inches below the top of the head or level with the top of the ears. Also, the horizontal distance between the head and the restraint needs to be less than 4 inches. If necessary, the distance can be adjusted by changing the reclining angle of the seat.
Seek medical treatment immediately
Accidents happen, even to the best drivers. Regardless of how slight your injuries might seem to you, you need to seek medical attention as soon after an auto accident as you possibly can. Also, be sure to explain to your health care providers that you were involved in an auto accident. That includes describing exactly what happened and how your injuries were sustained. Many times, the victims of an auto accident do not experience pain right away, nor do they discover the full extent of their injuries until much later. Remember to tell your doctor that you were involved in a car accident and describe exactly what happened.
If you have questions regarding auto accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (800) 364-8305.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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