Recovery from an accident of any kind is emotionally draining and physically painful. Often the only motivation accident victims have is the prospect of returning to their normal routines. Unfortunately, full recovery is out-of-reach for some accident victims. A permanent disability will change their lives forever.
Types of Crippling Injuries
From the head down to the toes, crippling injuries can strike any area of the human body. Many accident survivors end up living with more than one chronic condition. In the United States alone, 61 million adults are living with at least one disability.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
In recent years, the news has buzzed with reports about traumatic brain injuries. It’s well-known that for athletes in contact sports, brain damage is simply a risk of the profession. While sports-related TBIs are extremely publicized, falls are actually the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries.They can happen to anyone who takes a spill on a slippery surface or uneven stairs. Likewise, any passenger can sustain a TBI due to a car accident’s impact.
It’s difficult for both patients and their families to adjust to the new normals that go along with life after a brain injury. Victims of TBIs sometimes experience extreme changes in their mood and behavior. When the sections of the brain that regulate anger become damaged, those affected might lash out or begin crying inconsolably at the drop of a pin.
Intense, frequent headaches or migraines can make it impossible for TBI survivors to keep a regular job. Their ability to process information might also take a hit, adding further career limitations. Furthermore, TBIs can be especially difficult for children as their brains are still developing. It’s not unlikely for school-aged children who’ve suffered TBIs to have special academic needs.
Whiplash from sporting and car accidents as well as slip and fall accidents can cause neck injuries. Neck injuries are serious because they impact the upper part of the spine. When people land on their heads, extremely twist their necks, or experience blunt force in this region, the damage to their muscles and nerves could be irreparable.
Pain from neck injuries leaves many accident victims unable to return to work. Discs, tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the neck work together to allow flexibility. Damage to these structures can compromise movement.
Heavy lifting, severe impact, and poor exercise form are among the contributing factors that lead to accidents that cause back injuries. These injuries come in the form of sprains and strains, herniated discs, and fractures.
Lumbar facet syndrome is one condition that sprains can cause. It makes the lower back feel tender. Simple movements like bending, stretching, and twisting can be painful, making it difficult or impossible to stand up.
The consequences of back injuries can appear suddenly. Bones can collapse because of fractures, creating excruciating pain. It can stop people in their tracks while they’re simply trying to walk or stand.
As the back is a central site for nerves, back pain can radiate throughout the body. As such, pain can be so severe that even powerful narcotics may not fully relieve patients.
Quadriplegia and Paraplegia
Close to 5.4 million people in the United States live with a form of paralysis. One type is paraplegia, the loss of function and sensation in the lower part of the body. Another is quadriplegia. It is farther-reaching, affecting both arms and legs.
Paralysis can stem from brain damage, but most often, the root of quadriplegia and paraplegia is direct damage to the spinal cord. In sporting accidents, athletes take sudden blows and hard falls that can impact their spines. Car passengers are vulnerable to similar injuries in crashes.
These conditions are life-changing. Independence is compromised overnight. Suddenly, people with paraplegia and quadriplegia have to rely on others for everyday activities like driving, cooking, and bathing.
That’s not to say quadriplegia and paraplegia completely prevent people from re-establishing their own routines. But there is a steep learning curve. Rehabilitation involves a great deal of time, pain, and patience. There is no guarantee that patients will regain lost functionality.
Spinal Cord Injuries
While automotive accidents are the leading cause, spinal cord injuries also happen due to falls and athletic mishaps.
The spinal cord is the largest nerve in the human body. An injury can lead to paralysis from the waist down or the neck down. But some injuries only impact certain limbs. Spinal injuries can diminish or destroy sexual function, putting a strain on intimate relationships. Considering the stark lifestyle changes, it is easy to see why people who become paralyzed are more likely to suffer from depression.
Not all spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis. In some circumstances, nerves become hypersensitive and cause chronic pain that requires daily medication. Nerve damage can also leave accident victims with little control over their bladder and bowel, creating travel limitations and embarrassing incidents.
A heavy object trapping a limb can obstruct blood flow. Vessels can be damaged to the point that amputation is the only option. In some scenarios, hands, arms, feet, and legs are crushed under the weight of a car. Other times, victims find themselves trapped in the rubble of a dilapidated building.
New professional challenges arise. Employees might need to replace their cars with customized vehicles or pay a transportation service to get to and from work. Those with physical jobs like farming and waiting tables could be forced to choose another career path altogether.
House modifications, for example, wheelchair ramps and lowered countertops, make adjusting at home easier. These changes do come with hefty price tags.
Prosthetic technology has come a long way. Modern prosthetics are far more comfortable for wearers than they were in past decades. There are even artificial limbs that can respond to brain signals.
That doesn’t mean learning to live with an amputation is easy. A prosthetic limb involves re-learning basic skills like balancing, walking, tying shoelaces, and getting dressed. It’s a frustrating process.
If a knee is twisted too far in the wrong direction, the strain may lead to permanent injuries. This commonly happens in slip and fall accidents and physical jobs. Many knee injuries happen as a result of impact in car accidents.
A person who tears a knee ligament or tendon is 50% more likely to develop arthritis within 10 years of the accident. Serious knee injuries are unforgiving. Those with chronic knee pain often take painkillers daily. Arthritis is not only painful, it can greatly restrict mobility and leave sufferers unable to work.
Burns can happen anywhere. They are the fourth most prevalent trauma in the world. Hidden dangers like exposed electrical wires and defective fire alarms lurk in commercial buildings as well as residential ones. Restaurant staff and laboratory workers face potential burn-causing hazards on the job.
Luckily, the vast majority of burns aren’t life-threatening. However, third-degree burns can cause nerve-damage that has the potential to permanently destroy sensation in the affected area. Sight is another sense that could be unrecoverable if a person suffers a facial burn.
Deep burns that cover a large surface area can even damage vital organs including the heart and lungs. Fourth-degree burns completely destroy the skin, reaching the bone. They can make amputation necessary.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve sustained a catastrophic injury due to a vehicle accident, slip and fall, or other cause, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call Viles & Beckman, LLC today at (239) 334-3933 or fill out a contact form online today to learn more about your legal options.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.