Trauma: What Happens If You Get Hit by a Car & Recovery Steps

Last updated Monday, June 3rd, 2024

Trauma: What Happens If You Get Hit by a Car & Recovery Steps

Being hit by a car is a life-altering event that leaves you worrying about “what happens if you get hit by a car?” From immediate medical care to long-term rehabilitation, legal implications, and emotional recovery, this article cuts straight to the heart of these concerns. You’ll find clear, actionable information to guide you through the aftermath of a pedestrian accident.

Key Takeaways

  • Pedestrian collisions can result in a range of severe physical injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, and internal injuries, all of which may have delayed symptoms and long-term health implications.
  • Victims of pedestrian accidents face not just physical trauma but also serious psychological effects such as PTSD, requiring emotional support and therapy as part of the recovery process.
  • The recovery from a pedestrian accident involves immediate and proficient medical attention, long-term rehabilitation, legal and insurance navigation, and can be influenced by the individual’s pre-existing health, the severity of the injuries, and their ability to access and afford medical care.

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Immediate Physical Consequences of Being Struck by a Vehicle

The physical consequences of pedestrian collisions can be severe, ranging from minor ailments to life-threatening conditions. The severity of these injuries largely depends on the angle and speed of the impact. Head-on and side collisions often result in broken bones and blunt force trauma to the body and face.

Shock, a common immediate response to such traumatic events, can delay the recognition of certain symptoms. This is particularly true for internal injuries, which may not manifest obvious external signs but can cause significant damage to internal organs, making them especially dangerous. Internal injuries are often caused by the mechanical energy from the impact being transferred to the body, damaging organs and internal structures.

In the chaos and confusion following a car accident, victims may not be immediately aware of the extent of their injuries. This is where the role of emergency medical services becomes vital. They are trained to recognize severe injuries, even those that aren’t immediately apparent, and provide life-saving measures on the spot.

Recognizing Traumatic Brain Injuries

One of the most severe injuries that can result from a car accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is among the various types of head injuries. TBIs can manifest in various physical, sensory, and cognitive symptoms that may not be immediately apparent after an accident and can take days or weeks to surface. Symptoms of a mild TBI can include headaches, nausea, and dizziness, while more severe cases may feature seizures, loss of consciousness, and persistent headaches.

TBIs are categorized into mild, moderate, and severe, each comes with its spectrum of symptoms and impairments in brain function. Children and infants with TBIs might exhibit specific symptoms such as changes in eating or nursing habits, persistent crying, and increased drowsiness. It’s crucial to recognize these symptoms early as the brain is still developing in young children, and a TBI can have long-term developmental impacts.

Moreover, headaches following a car accident, which can arise after some delay, may be indicative of a concussion or other form of brain injury. Therefore, it’s crucial for anyone involved in a car accident, especially pedestrians who are particularly vulnerable, to seek medical attention immediately after the crash, even if they feel fine initially.

Spinal Cord and Cervical Spine Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are another severe consequence of vehicle collisions. They account for almost 40% of spinal cord injuries overall, underscoring their severity, which can result in different levels of paralysis, either complete or incomplete. Symptoms that may indicate a spinal injury include numbness, pain, or tingling sensations in extremities.

When the higher regions of the spine, particularly the neck, are injured, the result can be quadriplegia, a loss of function and sensation from the neck down. This can have profound implications for the victim’s quality of life, requiring long-term care and rehabilitation.

Other Common Injuries

In addition to brain and spinal injuries, pedestrians can also suffer various other injuries as a result of a car hit. These include lacerations, which are cuts caused by sharp objects, and contusions, which are bruises caused by blunt force in car crashes.

Fractures are also a common result of being struck by a car, with possible types including simple, compound, and comminuted fractures. The force of a car crash can lead to complex fractures that may require surgical intervention and extensive rehabilitation.

Some long-term effects that pedestrians may experience following their recovery include:

  • Ongoing pain at the site of the injury
  • Arthritis
  • Reduced mobility
  • Difficulty performing daily activities

These long-term effects can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, making the recovery process a long and arduous one.

Psychological Impact of Pedestrian Collisions

Woman in therapyBeyond the physical injuries, pedestrian collisions also have a profound psychological impact. Victims may experience a range of psychological effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a serious condition that can manifest through the following symptoms:

  • Recurring dreams of the event
  • Anxiety, fear, and avoidance
  • Emotional numbness and withdrawal
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Changes in sleep or concentration

These symptoms can severely disrupt a person’s life, making it difficult for them to return to their normal routine after the accident.

Emotional support and therapy are critical in helping individuals cope with the emotional trauma and psychological injuries sustained in a car accident. This is a crucial aspect of the rehabilitation process, as the psychological wounds from an accident can be as debilitating as the physical injuries.

First Response and Emergency Medical Services

The moments immediately following an auto accident are critical. Swift medical attention is vital for preventing permanent spinal damage and improving chances of full recovery.

For victims with major injuries, the goal is to stabilize and identify any life-threatening injuries within the critical 30 minutes following hospital admission. During this time, Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) protocols are applied to enhance survival rates through systematic and efficient treatment approaches.

The primary survey of victims with multiple traumas focuses promptly on assessing and managing the airway, breathing, and circulation (ABCs). Emergency medical interventions like endotracheal intubation, thoracostomies, and fluid or blood transfusions may be essential measures for the initial stabilization of patients with significant injuries.

Long-Term Health Implications

Car accidents can have long-lasting health implications, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Traumatic brain injuries, which may result in intellectual problems, communication difficulties, and long-lasting behavioral changes
  • In severe cases, coma or persistent vegetative states
  • Long-term disabilities such as chronic pain and memory loss

These long-term impacts contribute to a reduced quality of life for many victims.

The potential for enduring disabilities, chronic conditions, and a decline in quality of life underscores the severity of long-term health implications after a car accident. This highlights the importance of comprehensive medical care, rehabilitation, and psychological support in the recovery process.

Navigating Legal and Insurance Processes

After a pedestrian accident, victims face not only physical and emotional recovery but also the complex process of pursuing legal claims and dealing with insurance companies. Attorneys specializing in pedestrian accidents undertake an in-depth investigation of the incident, gather supportive evidence, and navigate the complexities of legal claims.

Professional assessment by lawyers on the extent of a pedestrian’s injuries is crucial in calculating potential compensation, considering medical expenses, income loss, and other relevant damages. These attorneys play a key role in negotiating with insurance companies to reach settlements, and if negotiations fail, they are prepared to file a personal injury lawsuit in pursuit of fair compensation.

Understanding Personal Injury Protection

Key to understanding the legal and insurance processes surrounding pedestrian accidents is Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is an element of auto insurance policies that covers medical expenses and income loss resulting from a vehicular collision.

Pedestrians injured by a vehicle may be entitled to PIP coverage under the driver’s auto insurance policy. This can cover reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses, which can be a significant relief for victims facing high medical costs.

Filing a Claim: Steps and Considerations

Assessing potential compensation is an important step in the legal process for pedestrian accidents. Given the high medical costs and possible loss of income due to severe injuries, getting a fair compensation becomes vital.

Many pedestrian accident victims hire an attorney on a contingency basis. This means they don’t have to pay up-front fees, and the attorney’s compensation is contingent on a successful outcome in the case. This arrangement enables victims to have legal representation even if they can’t afford it upfront.

Road Safety and Prevention Measures

While understanding the consequences of pedestrian accidents is important, prevention is always better than cure, no matter what. Road safety campaigns, such as observing road safety week, are vital for promoting awareness about road safety. A momentary distraction, like looking at a phone or talking to passengers, can have drastic consequences.

Overconfidence in one’s driving abilities due to experience can lead to multitasking while driving, which significantly increases the risk of fatal crashes. Seat belts are a crucial safety feature as they restrain the body during a crash, allowing the vehicle to absorb the force, thus mitigating injuries.

Rehabilitation and Recovery Journey

The journey to recovery after a pedestrian accident is often long and challenging. The rehabilitation process varies for each individual, influenced by factors such as:

  • The severity of injuries
  • Health conditions
  • Timeliness of medical response
  • Age
  • Lifestyle habits
  • The ability to take time off for recovery

Doctors typically include physical therapy in treatment plans for car accident recovery. This can involve specific modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, light therapy, and targeted exercises. Limiting physical activity and prioritizing rest are crucial for recovery, as they allow the body to more effectively repair damaged muscles and tissues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can people survive being hit by a car?

Surviving being hit by a car greatly depends on the speed of the vehicle, with a lower speed significantly increasing the chances of survival. Speed plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of such accidents.

What are you supposed to do when you get hit by a car?

If you or a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, seek immediate medical assistance, document your injuries, call the police, and avoid discussing fault on the scene or with the motorist’s insurance company. Contact your insurance company and seek professional legal assistance as well.

How does getting hit by a car affect you?

Getting hit by a car can cause immediate effects such as pain and shock, leading to confusion and difficulty processing the situation. It is important to seek medical help and support after such an incident.

What happens when a human is hit by a car?

A car accident can cause severe injuries such as whiplash, head injuries, spinal cord trauma, and limb injuries due to the physical force of the collision. It can take a severe toll on the human body.

What are the most common injuries in pedestrian collisions?

The most common injuries in pedestrian collisions are broken bones, blunt force trauma, lacerations, contusions, and spinal injuries, with more severe cases involving traumatic brain injuries. Be cautious and aware while walking to avoid these injuries.


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