Invisible Injuries After an Accident
In the aftermath of a serious accident, it’s only natural to presume that the severity of any injuries sustained can be ascertained simply by looking at the accident victim. Most people implicitly believe that, in the moments following an accident, the more gruesome an injury appears, the greater impact it will have on the victim’s life.
But severe injuries following motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall accidents, or other traumatic events may not be accompanied by observable physical symptoms. That means that, even though injured accident victims may not sustain cuts, lacerations, abrasions, bruises, lost limbs, or other easy-to-see physical ailments in their accidents, their quality of life could still be permanently altered.
When the injuries sustained in an accident prevent a victim from performing the duties of their job, they may be able to recover long-term disability benefits to keep themselves afloat, financially. However, to do so, accident survivors must first submit a claim accompanied by medical evidence proving the severity of their injuries.
In addition, a car accident survivor may choose to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused their collision. Doing so may require them to present thorough medical evidence substantiating the severity of their injuries. If objective medical evidence is not available to them, proving their case can be a challenge.
In fact, it can be notoriously difficult to recover financial compensation for so-called “invisible” injuries. When symptoms of serious medical conditions cannot be easily and objectively qualified, the onus falls on the injured accident victim to prove that their condition is real and impactful in order to pursue compensation. Since the experience of internal pain and emotional or mental anguish is subjective and unique to the victim, their claims may be easily dismissed as false, or embellished.
Even after presenting testimonies and opinions from medical experts, insurance companies may deny long-term disability benefits for people suffering invisible injuries, and Courts may not award them any further damages.
If you were involved in an accident caused by another party’s negligence and are suffering from invisible injuries as a result, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you pursue the financial compensation you’re owed.
Whiplash, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Chronic Pain
Whiplash-Associated Disorders are a range of soft tissue injuries in the neck. Symptoms of whiplash can lead to chronic, long-term pain. Common symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the back and neck
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in extremities (arms, hands, legs, and feet)
- Jaw pains
- Mood swings, irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- And more
Concussions (traumatic brain injuries) can often occur at the same time as these other injuries.
According to Chiropractic Nova Scotia, nearly half of all accident victims who suffer from whiplash report continuing to experience symptoms two years after their incidents. Even though they may not have shown any outward signs of trauma or felt any pains immediately after their accidents, victims with soft tissue injuries may suffer from chronic pain for years to come.
When chronic pains become so unmanageable that they impede an accident survivor’s ability to work, these invisible injuries may significantly impact their ability to earn a living. As a result, accident survivors suffering from chronic pain may try pursuing financial compensation by filing a claim for any available long-term disability benefits, by pursuing legal action against the negligent party who caused their accident, or both.
Although it may be difficult to substantiate the serious impact chronic pain resulting from accidents has on a victim’s life, taking certain actions may help illustrate their condition’s severity and frequency. For example, keeping a thorough, written record of pain experienced may be useful. Pain journals can help those experiencing chronic pain keep track of when they experience pain, how severe it is, and if they’re responding to any medical treatments.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
On average, 456 Canadians sustain an acquired brain injury every day. Globally, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a leading cause of disability. These injuries can have profound, devastating effects on accident victims, and their family members.
Moderate to severe TBIs can result in permanent or prolonged changes to a person’s state of consciousness, awareness, or responsiveness. The serious repercussions of a TBI can be physical, intellectual, emotional, behavioural, and sensory.
TBIs occur when a sudden trauma, such as a blow to the head, causes damage to a person’s brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, common symptoms may include:
- Persistent headaches
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty communicating
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of smell, or bad taste in the mouth
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or disorientation
- Mood swings
- Loss of sleep, or increased time sleeping
- Convulsions or seizures
- And more
Though some TBIs may be observable through the use of medical imaging devices such as CT scans or MRIs, many people afflicted with an acquired brain injury suffer symptoms of an injury no one else can see. Sustaining traumatic damage to the brain can require an accident survivor to make profound alterations to their lifestyles, and their relationships to their loved ones.
While it can be difficult for friends and family members to comprehend the new day-to-day experience of a person living with a TBI, it can be even more difficult for insurance providers or Courts to objectively assess the severity of their symptoms. This can result in financial distress. In fact, approximately half of Canada’s homeless population is made up of people suffering a TBI.
Secondary Disabilities: Mental Health Issues
When injured individuals suffer painful, chronic, prolonged repercussions from accidents and are unable to earn a living a result, the isolation of recovery combined with financial uncertainty and the pervasive symptoms of their injuries can lead to other disabilities. These often take the form of serious mental health conditions, such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
Also referred to as clinical depression and major depressive disorder, depression is a very real, very serious mood disorder. Depression may require long-term treatment, including medication, psychotherapy, or both. Some common symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
- Irritability, restlessness, frustration, and drastic changes in mood
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Lack of energy, extreme fatigue
- Sleep disturbances (eg. insomnia, over-sleeping)
- Increased food cravings and weight gain, or reduced appetite and weight loss
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Difficulty focusing, making decisions, and remembering
- Physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (eg. headaches, backaches, digestive disorders)
- Suicidal thoughts, or attempts
- And more
If injuries from an accident cause a person to develop other disabling conditions, like depression, they may be unable to return to the workplace. In these cases, accident victims battling depression may apply for long-term disability benefits. However, since the subjective emotional experience of someone suffering from a mental health condition cannot be precisely proven with medical evidence, their claims for disability benefits are often denied.
How Preszler Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help
Although invisible injuries can severely impact the quality of an accident victim’s life, their symptoms are often difficult to prove. Since accident victims with chronic conditions may need to focus on their recovery, fighting long, protracted battles for financial compensation can sound like an impossible task.
A Nova Scotia lawyer may be able to pursue legal action on your behalf, even if the severity of your injury cannot be easily quantified. If an invisible injury prevents you from working but your claim for long-term disability benefits has been denied, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to appeal your insurance provider’s decision by filing a lawsuit against them. Furthermore, if your injury was caused by another party’s negligence, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to recover the cost of damages you’ve incurred as a result of your accident.
To discuss your case in a free initial consultation, contact us today.