Car accidents can be physically devastating for victims. Common injuries range from multiple bone fractures to third-degree burns. When you suffer a specific injury, your physician will be able to estimate how long you will experience physical pain after a car accident based on your diagnosis and prognosis. If you never went to the hospital or did not think you had injuries, however, you may not know how long to expect residual soreness to last. The answer can depend on many factors.
How Serious Were the Injuries You Sustained?
Even a minor car accident can cause pain and suffering to those involved. A rear-end collision that hardly causes any property damage could lead to a physical injury such as whiplash, for example. Whiplash is an injury to the muscles or tendons in the neck, due to the rapid back-and-forth motion of the vehicle. Minor whiplash may not seem like a serious injury, but it could cause chronic pain and some level of disability for weeks or months after the wreck.
In general, the more serious your injuries, the longer you will experience pain and soreness. Six weeks is the average recovery time after a car accident. Some victims will feel back to normal sooner than this, while others will experience pain and suffering for a lifetime. The exact answer depends on your individual recovery time and the severity of your injuries. Injuries that often lead to extended recovery times include neck or back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. Severe burns can also take months to heal, and leave behind residual pain.
At What Speed Did the Vehicle Collide?
High-speed car accidents tend to cause more severe injuries than low-speed ones. In a two-vehicle collision, the gravitational force exerted on vehicle occupants is the speed of both vehicles combined. If you were traveling at 60 miles per hour and the person who hit you was traveling at 70, for example, the total speed at which your collision occurred would be 130 miles per hour. The higher the speed of your accident, the more likely you will suffer injuries that take longer to heal.
Were You Wearing a Seatbelt?
Seatbelts can protect you from serious and fatal injuries in a vehicle collision. However, they can also cause or contribute a few specific injuries, including whiplash, abdominal injuries, organ damage, and respiratory problems. If you were not wearing a seatbelt, you likely suffered injuries that will take weeks or months to heal. These may include broken bones or a traumatic brain injury from flying forward and striking the steering wheel, windshield, or side window. If you were wearing a seatbelt, you may have avoided life-threatening injuries, but still suffered damages to muscles, ligaments, and/or organs.
Did You Have a Prior Condition?
Your prior medical conditions could determine how long you experience soreness after a car accident. If you previously suffered from neck or back pain, for example, a car accident may have exacerbated existing injuries. Prior conditions could affect your recovery rate and range of motion after a collision. Even if your injuries are due in part to existing conditions, you could still be eligible for financial recovery.
Civil laws in California hold that an at-fault party will be liable for accident-related damages, even if the victim had a prior injury or illness. The eggshell skull rule is a legal doctrine that states a defendant will be legally responsible even for unforeseeable and uncommon reactions to the defendant’s wrongdoing. This includes more serious personal injuries because of existing medical conditions.
Your Legal Options for Pain and Suffering
If you experience pain and soreness long after an auto accident, you may be eligible to recover financial damages for your economic and noneconomic losses. The California courts allow crash victims to seek damages for intangible losses such as physical pain and suffering. Speak to a Long Beach auto accident attorney today about your legal options.