Car accidents, even minor ones, will almost always cause injuries. These injuries are often temporary and may not cause long-term problems. Other accidents are more serious and cause injuries that disable the victim for months on end, sometimes permanently.
It is difficult to think that a car accident could affect a person’s life so dramatically. But some of them do. A motorist may be healthy and active one second, then unable to work or even move at will the next.
Statistics show that well over two million people are injured or disabled each year in car accidents, and more than a million adults are living with a disability caused by a car accident at any given time. Adults aged 35 to 64 suffer the most disabling injuries, and 41 percent report not being able to work because of their injuries.
The extent of disability depends on the type of accident, how fast the vehicles were moving, and many other factors. The most severe accidents can cause debilitating injuries that result in a lifelong disability. Victims of these accidents often must depend on others to get through their daily lives, commonly leading to mental health issues in addition to physical problems.
What is a Permanent Disability?
A permanent disability is a severe physical or mental injury that renders a person unable to perform their regular work duties or participate in activities they participated in before the accident.
Permanent disabilities can be partial or total. They range in severity, usually determined by the level the person can continue to work and function in their daily lives. In the most severe cases, a permanent disability does not allow the person to work at all or function without help from others.
Common permanent disabilities from car accidents include spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and loss of limbs because of amputation or severe tissue and bone damage.
Spinal cord damage. When the spinal cord is damaged or severed in an accident, the victim will almost always suffer permanent disability from paralysis. Depending on where the spinal cord was damaged, they will completely lose movement control, feeling, and function in their limbs. Note that paralysis can also occur when a limb or other body part is crushed so severely that it is rendered useless.
Paralysis injuries are categorized as follows:
- Monoplegia: One limb is paralyzed.
- Hemiplegia: The arm and leg on one side of the body are paralyzed.
- Paraplegia: Both legs and parts of the lower body are paralyzed.
- Quadriplegia: All arms and legs are paralyzed.
Many people with paralysis end up confined to a bed and wheelchair for the rest of their lives. They almost always require help with daily living and ongoing therapies and care. In severe cases, the sufferer will also need ventilator assistance with breathing.
In addition to physical care, the emotional and mental toll on a person with paralysis needs to be addressed. Their loved ones will also be affected, and their physical and psychological well-being should not be overlooked, either.
Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury is not uncommon in a car accident. The sheer force and energy of the accident can throw a person around or even outside the vehicle. Traumatic brain injury often occurs when the brain hits the skull through blunt force or a severe rocking motion.
A brain injury has far-reaching consequences, which are often irreparable. Disabilities associated with severe brain injuries include:
- Vision disturbances, including partial or total loss of vision
- Hearing problems, including deafness
- Problems with movement, coordination, and motor skills
- Inability to speak or to speak as well as before the accident
- Reduced ability to concentrate and focus
- Memory issues
- Reduced cognitive functions leading to the inability to reason, analyze, or even read or perform basic math
- Inability to manage emotions
- Inappropriate social interactions
- Depression and other mental health issues
Traumatic brain injuries are sometimes referred to as silent injuries because they do not always show up at first. It may take hours, days, or even weeks for symptoms to surface. Even minor accidents can cause a significant injury.
Many symptoms come on suddenly and include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Sleep disturbances
- Persistent headaches
- Mood swings or changes in personality
- Speech and reading problems
- Coordination or movement problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cognitive issues
- Emotional outbursts
- Psychological problems that were not there before the accident
If you are involved in a car accident, no matter how serious, always seek immediate medical attention and whenever new symptoms arise, even days or weeks later.
Loss of limbs. A severe car accident can amputate a limb or cause injuries so severe that a limb must be amputated afterward. No matter the cause, a loss of limb may make it extremely difficult or impossible for a victim to work or go about their daily lives. They may need lifelong medical care and help with activities of daily living. For sure, they will need occupational and physical therapies to help them strengthen their muscles and learn how to live with their altered abilities.
Other permanent disabilities. A car accident can also result in other disabilities that can be considered permanent and debilitating, including:
- Deafness or blindness
- Severe burns
- Back and neck injuries that do not cause paralysis but do impair a person’s life and capabilities
- Nerve and soft tissue damage that results in loss of sensation or ability to control movement well
- Limb damage that impairs mobility or full use of arms or legs
- Ongoing psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder
How can a Permanent Disability Affect Someone’s Life?
No matter the severity, a permanent disability will affect a person for the rest of their life. Their quality of life, productivity, ability to earn a living, and mental health will all be dramatically affected.
Permanent disabilities almost always require ongoing medical care such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive medical devices, regular check-ups, hospital stays, and surgeries.
At-home nursing assistance is almost always needed as well. Or the victim may require full-time care in a nursing home or similar residence.
Financially, a permanent disability can be devastating. Many times, a victim may not be able to work. Other times they can work but not at the type of job they did before the accident. A new position that accommodates their disability may pay far less than they are accustomed to making.
In addition, ongoing medical bills can be a severe burden. Permanent disabilities often require long-term or lifetime therapies and other medical treatments, not to mention the costs of needed medications and medical equipment.
A permanent disability can be physically, financially, and emotionally devastating for a victim and their loved ones.
How can I Get Compensated for a Permanent Disability?
If you become permanently disabled in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, it is worth it to consult with a lawyer to see if you have a personal injury claim.
A successful personal injury claim can help you be compensated for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages and loss of future income
- Loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
There is a good chance that your medical and vehicle insurance will run out after reaching the payable limits. Work benefits, such as short-term disability insurance, also have dollar limits.
If a person can no longer work or work in the same profession at the same pay rate because of their injury, they may find themselves in dire financial straits. A fair and just settlement from the negligent person’s insurance can help lessen the devastating effects of a permanent disability that was not the victim’s fault.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Advocate for Victims Who are Permanently Disabled
If you or a loved one is permanently disabled after a car accident, contact the Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law for a free and confidential consultation. We believe that no one should suffer the entire financial burden of an accident caused by a negligent driver. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.