Ouch! Car accidents can cause a lifetime of pain (DETAILS)

Types of car accident permanent injuries

According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a permanent injury is physical or mental damage that will indefinitely restrict normal activities or employment of an individual. 1

One of the most common causes of permanent injuries is car accidents.

Regardless of whether a person is left partially or totally disabled after being hurt in a car accident, a sudden and permanent injury can have a devastating impact on their life.

The injured person will not be able to continue performing or even enjoying their normal activities, or they may find it hard to adjust to the life they had before the auto injury. He or she may struggle to provide for their family to the same level as before, leading them to wonder what to do after a car accident injury.

While it may feel isolating, their situation is not uncommon. Every year, over 1.2 million people die in car accidents and millions more are injured in an accident. 2

In the USA alone, over 40,000 people die in car accidents annually and someone is injured in an auto accident every 10 seconds. The number of people permanently injured is over two million per year. 3 Almost 10% of people involved in car accidents suffer a permanent injury, with that total number increasing every year. 4

The risk of permanent injury depends mostly on the body part injured in a car accident. People who suffer thorax or abdominal injuries have the lowest chance of permanent injury. On the other side, neck, arm, and leg injuries are the most common causes of permanent injuries. 4

Spine injuries

Neck strain is one of the most common injuries in a car accident, and it is usually considered as a minor injury. But in 16-17% of people, it can lead to severe health issues and even permanent injuries. 4 Individuals usually complain of persistent neck pain with radiation to the head or down the arms, tingling or numbness, loss of strength in hands, and decreased range of motion, which require periodical physical therapy treatments in order to reduce these symptoms and increase mobility.

Injuries of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine (complete or incomplete cord syndrome) are most devastating and will lead to permanent injuries in 100% of people. These people will have paraplegia or quadriplegia for the rest of their lives. 4 Individuals with paraplegia or quadriplegia will always require help from another person, and their occupations and their quality of life will be severely restricted. They will require lifelong rounds of physical treatment or kinesiotherapy in order to prevent joint contractures (joint stiffness). Additionally, they have a much higher chance of developing bedsores, pneumonia, UTIs, and other infections.

Fractures in car accidents

Fractures often occur in car accidents. Their impact on the person’s health depends mostly on the type of fracture and injured bone. In the case of simple, non-displaced injuries, most are treated with a cast, which is removed after 4-6 weeks (depending on the injured bone) and followed by physical treatment. These injuries usually don’t leave severe or long-lasting consequences.

However, displaced fractures, intra-articular fractures, and fractures of weight bearing bones can have permanent consequences. These fractures are usually treated surgically, and intense physical therapy treatment is required in order to achieve good results. Even after that, individuals can have issues like pain, restricted motion, and non-healing which can require further rounds of physical therapy or surgery. Intra-articular fractures cause severe damage of the cartilage, leading to the much faster deterioration of the joints. The most susceptible are the hip, knee, and ankle joints, which bear significant weight. In the case of severe arthrosis (joint destruction), the person will require joint replacement surgery.

Head injuries caused by auto accidents

Head injuries are especially common in unrestrained drivers or passengers involved in car accidents. The severity of the consequences depends mostly on the type of head injury. Head contusion or concussions are not particularly severe, in most cases. On the other hand, brain contusions and hematomas will most likely leave permanent consequences. People with these types of injuries can remain in a coma for a long period of time, and later, they can develop cognitive problems, posttraumatic epilepsy, hearing or vision problems, etc. Some patients require repeated surgical procedures to correct or alleviate these issues, if possible. After a coma, individuals will spend months in intensive physical therapy in order to restore their normal functions and motions.


Another type of injury that leads to permanent damage is traumatic amputation. The severity of the injury depends mostly on the body part being amputated. Losing a toe or a finger has less of an impact on someone’s life versus losing a thumb or a ring finger. Loss of a thumb or arm above the elbow will always lead to 100% impairment. 4

Amputees will have to wear a prosthesis for their entire lives, which can have a severe negative effect on their quality of life. Most of them will require a longer course of physical therapy. Also, in some cases, the surgical revision of a stump will be required in order to improve balance and comfort while wearing a prosthesis.

Skin lacerations and burns from auto injuries

Skin lacerations (cuts) are very common in car accidents. In the case of smaller cuts, they will often heal by themselves within a couple of weeks, leaving small or almost invisible scars. However, deeper or big skin lacerations often require stitches and leave scars. If the laceration occurs on any visible body parts (the face, for example), it can have permanent consequences not just for the skin but for the victim’s self-confidence.

Lacerations near the joints and scarring can cause joint contractures, which are a very serious problem. The person who sustains a deep or big laceration will likely require further treatments, the most common of which are surgical scar revisions, laser treatments, PRP (platelet rich plasma), microneedling, etc.

Burns can also occur in car accidents. Just like lacerations, they can leave scars. Deeper burns or burns which cover a large portion of the body can cause permanent injuries. Burns located on the face can be mutilating. Deep burns on the joints cause joint contractures in most cases. Any future treatment options will depend mostly on the severity of the burns, and people with severe burns will usually require multiple surgical procedures in order to increase their quality of life following the auto accident injury.

Contact a car accident lawyer

If you or a loved one are injured in an auto or trucking accident, reach out to the professionals at Correll Law Firm, PC.  We know how the insurance companies determine value based on whether you have a permanent injury. Many times, insurance companies WANT you knowing the full picture of whether you are injuries.  Read our article about how it’s just one of their dirty tricks.

We serve Virginia and are happy to provide a free consultation for your personal injury or car accident matter.  You can reach out to us via the phone number above or fill out this quick form and we’ll have a member of our staff give you a call.


1.            “Permanent Injury.” LII / Legal Information Institute. N. p., 2010. Web. 29 May 2018.

2.            Peden M, Scurfield R, Sleet D, et al. World report on road traffic injury prevention. World Health Organization; Geneva: 2004.

3.            https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/national-car-accident-statistics

4.            Sigrun Malm, Claes Tingvall. “Risk Of Permanent Medical Impairment (RPMI) In Road Traffic Accidents.” Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine / Annual Scientific Conference 52 (2008): 93. Web. 29 May 2018.