For many people, accidents and injury go hand in hand. If you have been injured in an accident and are experiencing pain and a disruption to your normal life routine, it can be easy to catastrophize your situation and assume that your injuries are permanent, severe, or both. In reality, however, it is very possible to sustain minor or moderate injuries in an accident—injuries that may not result in chronic pain and that may heal over time. It is important to understand the different types of injuries that exist and how each are sustained.
The official legal definition of “injury” involves “a harm suffered, which may be physical or emotional pain and suffering, damage to reputation or dignity, loss of a legal right, breach of contract, or damage to real or personal property.” For the purposes of this post, however, we will only be talking about physical and emotional injuries.
What is injury?
Injury is defined as “the damage to a biological organism caused by physical harm.” The term “injury” can encompass a wide range of “harms,” from a splinter and stubbed toe to a life-threatening skull fracture or open wound. Injuries can also be emotional, such as depression or anxiety resulting from a car accident or trauma. Injuries of all severities affect the American public:
- Injury is the leading cause of death in the United States for people ages 1 to 44
- Every 3 minutes, a person dies from injury
- More than 31 million people are treated for injuries in emergency departments each year
- More than $465 billion is spent in injury-related medical costs and lost productivity each year
- Each year, more than 50 million people are injured seriously enough to require medical attention
- (Source: University of Michigan Injury Center)
A person can become injured by an outside party as well as by their own fault. As a personal injury law firm, however, we deal only with clients who have been physically or emotionally harmed due to the negligence of another.
Different levels of injury
Hypothetically, it is possible to receive financial compensation for many different types of injury. The Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS), assigns each injury a score from 1 to 6. This scale represents the “threat to life” associated with the injury only and does not represent all of the injury’s severity—nor is there an equal difference between each injury level. For example, the severity between AIS2 and AIS3 is not the same as the difference between AIS4 and AIS 5. The Abbreviated Injury Scale is ranked as:
- AIS1= Minor Injury
- AIS2= Moderate injury
- AIS3= Serious injury
- AIS4= Severe injury
- AIS5= Critical injury
- AIS6= Unsurvivable injury
The Abbreviated Injury Scale also classifies the body into nine regions:
- Upper Extremity
- Lower Extremity
- External and Other
There are many injuries that require immediate medical attention, but this does not automatically make them disabling or long-term. Many injuries require a designated amount of time to heal and a designated treatment pattern—and if properly treated, they can eventually “disappear” forever. Examples of these more minor injuries include: sprains and strains, broken bones, bumps on the head, injuries to the arms and legs, cuts, burns, scalds, bites, shallow wounds to the head and skin, and basic eye injuries. This list is not all-inclusive, but it gives a basic understanding as to the types of injuries that can be sustained, treated, and successfully healed.
Examples of more severe injuries include: neck injuries and whiplash, brain injuries, severe burns, back injuries and fractured spinal disks, internal damage like broken ribs and torn spleens, and heavily-broken bones. It is important to recognize that 1) a minor injury can quickly become a more severe injury if not treated in time, and 2) many injuries, such as broken bones and burns, can be minor or severe, depending on the part of the body that they affect. Typically, injuries to the face and head area are more dangerous because they can damage the brian—therefore permanently changing or disabling the accident victim.
Seeking treatment for injuries
There are several common mistakes we have seen clients make in their personal injury cases. The first mistake is immediately accepting a small settlement check from the at-fault party’s insurance. If you have been involved in an accident and were injured due to the negligence of another, it is very unwise to make any rash decisions without consulting an attorney! Often times, an insurance representative from the at-fault party will call you or visit you at home and offer you a few hundred dollars for your injuries and suffering. If you accept this check, your case will be considered settled, and you will be unable to collect ay further monetary compensation.
Another common mistake many people make is not visiting a doctor immediately after their accident. If you have no injuries that are visible to the naked eye and feel “fine,” you still need to be examined by a medical professional. It is possible to sustain very severe internal injuries while having no visible symptoms or immediate discomfort. Days or even weeks after an accident, you could begin to experience back pain, neck pain, headaches, dizziness, etc. Always consult a doctor if you have a post-accident medical concern, and always visit a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Do not attempt to evaluate your own injuries or rank them on the Abbreviated Injury Scale without medical advice.
At Christensen & Hymas, we work to help our clients receive as much compensation as possible for the injuries they sustain in accidents. For more information on the cases we typically handle, visit our Accident Types page.