ACCIDENTS AND SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
While motor vehicle accidents often cause severe, noticeable injuries such as broken bones and lacerations, victims also suffer less obvious injuries to “soft tissues.” In my experience, no phrase has produced more unfair behavior from insurance companies, defense attorneys, and litigants than “SOFT TISSUE INJURY.” Because what is the implication? . . . that these injuries are minor, they don’t matter, they are faked, they can’t be proven, and a whole host of other misleading and mischaracterizing claims.
While we first think of soft tissue injuries as sprains and strains, consider that the human brain is a “soft tissue.” So are all of our internal organs, as well as our nervous system. In fact, almost every injury that a human can suffer, with the exception of a fractured bone, is, by medical definition, a soft tissue injury. I dare you to claim that a traumatic brain injury, punctured lung, torn spleen, or laceration to the heart muscle is not a serious, even life-threatening injury.
Whiplash, one of the most misunderstood labels for an injury to the spine and potentially to the brain, is one of the most common soft-tissue injuries resulting from an auto accident. It is actually called a hyperflexion/hyperextension injury, and can, and often does, result in a coup/contracoup injury to the brain tissue. It occurs when the head is violently forced backward and then forward, or vice versa, and is the principal movement of the head in every front- or rear-impact collision, DESPITE the speed of the vehicle.
Soft tissue injuries normally produce chronic pain, soreness, and stiffness that limits an individual’s mobility and may cause sleeplessness, dizziness and other symptoms. Bruises also accompany some soft tissue damage and are the only outward sign of an injury.
The difficulty with soft tissue injuries in a personal injury claim or lawsuit is that they typically do not show up on an x-ray or other diagnostic test. The claim is often made by the insurance industry and their lawyers that the injury is totally subjective. That it only depends on the complaints of the injured person, as if that nullifies the validity of the pain. Therefore, it is difficult to demonstrate convincingly that a plaintiff is truly injured.
On top of that, there is somewhat of a stigma attached to these injuries, suggesting that plaintiffs are either outright faking, or at least exaggerating their injuries. The lack of visual evidence lays the perfect groundwork for a defense attorney to discredit the claim. Think of your own experience with your own doctor. What is the first thing the doctor asks and you talk about? What hurts? . . . How do you feel? There are only two medical providers who are not interested in their patient’s complaints: a veterinarian and a medical examiner. Neither of their patients can complain at all.
The most important thing to do after suffering a soft-tissue injury is to seek medical treatment. This will begin the process of documenting that an injury does in fact exist. The tricky thing here is that sometimes these injuries do not produce symptoms right away. If that is the case, a lawsuit can be more difficult to pursue. Nonetheless, treatment should be sought at the onset of symptoms. I have prepared a FREE paper for you to download from my website at www.SandlerLaw.net, titled “8 Sure Fire Ways to Kill Your Case”, that gives you important information about the medical treatment you need to secure for your health and for your case.
In addition to a record of medical treatment for the injury, an important factor in proving an injury is demonstrating that the accident occurred in a way that would have resulted in the alleged injury. We call that the “mechanism of the injury“, and quite simply, it means that your doctor needs to be able to relate the actual injury to the cause of the injury. Imagine the difficulty for your doctor if you complain of a headache and explain that it came from dropping a bowling ball on your foot. Not likely to be causally related. On the other hand, if there is a whiplash injury, it would likely have resulted from you having been struck in the rear end by the other vehicle.
If you have been involved in a car accident, don’t let the fact that you were fortunate enough not to have broken bones prevent you from recovering for your soft tissue injuries. � Call Sandler Law Group – toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net or email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.