According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are five types of injuries that commonly occur from auto accidents. In Chicago, an auto accident lawyer often represents clients who sustain one or all of these common injuries in a single accident.
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Five Common Auto Accident Injuries
- Head and Brain Injuries – Drivers and passengers often suffer debilitating injuries caused by a violent blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries can result in mild, moderate or severe symptoms depending on the area of the brain that’s affected. Even with no visible signs of head trauma, like cuts or bruises, a severe impact to the head can cause bruising, bleeding and swelling of the brain. In the United States, car accidents account for one-third of brain injuries.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – Damage to the spinal cord occurs when ligaments, discs or displaced bone fragments bruise or penetrate spinal cord tissue. When this happens, the part of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body can be destroyed. Serious spinal cord injuries often result in a loss of function or feeling and paralysis.
- Facial Injuries – An auto accident lawyer Chicago commonly sees clients with serious facial injuries caused by a blow to the windshield, dashboard, steering wheel, airbag, side window and car seats. Facial injuries caused by hard impacts and shattered glass range in severity from bruises and cuts to deep lacerations and fractures, often resulting in serious disorders that can affect the jawbone and teeth.
- Neck Injuries – Neck injuries commonly result from the devastating impact of a car crash. They can show up as mild injuries like neck strain or whiplash or catastrophic injuries like a cervical dislocation and disc injuries. Neck injuries occur frequently in head-on collisions and rear-end collisions that happen suddenly when drivers and passengers are caught off-guard. A crushed trachea, damaged larynx, or broken neck can cause life-long disabilities.
- Back Injuries – The lower back is the most common site of back injuries that result from auto accidents. Injuries typically include sprains and strains, herniated discs and fractured vertebrae which cause pain and limit mobility. Serious back injuries often take a while to show up after an auto accident, but commonly result in long-term damage, disability, and pain.
In addition to these five common auto accident injuries, an auto accident lawyer Chicago represents many victims of internal and psychological injuries sustained in Chicago car crashes. Serious injuries like fractured ribs and punctured organs can be life threatening. Fatalities and psychological injuries such as anxiety, emotional distress and depression can affect a person’s life and abilities to function normally.
Determining Damages for Injuries
Illinois comparative fault laws will impact damages awarded for personal injuries in an auto accident. A modified comparative negligence rule is used to calculate damages, and negligence or fault is apportioned by the percentage of fault assigned to each party in the accident. According to Illinois law, a plaintiff’s recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault or negligence assigned to the plaintiff. For example, if the total accident damages are $100,000, and the plaintiff is found to be 35 percent responsible, $35,000 (35 percent of total damages) will be deducted. The plaintiff would be awarded $65,000 in damages, instead of the full $100,000. In Illinois, a car accident victim must be less that 50 percent at fault to receive any monetary damages for personal injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Since proving fault in an Illinois car accident is critical to calculating damages, an auto accident lawyer Chicago who is familiar with Illinois comparative fault laws is often required to prove fault. In typical cases, the party found to be at fault for the accident will be responsible for the damages. If fault can’t be clearly determined, or it is shared by several parties, damages are usually divided between involved parties.
Damages for personal injuries are divided into two main categories – economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and property damage. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering (present and future), physical disfigurement, physical and emotional disabilities, and inconvenience caused by the auto accident. In Illinois auto accidents, a plaintiff may seek both types of damages through an auto accident lawyer Chicago. In some personal injury cases, a plaintiff may also seek punitive damages to punish a defendant for the harm that he/she caused, however, there are generally limits on punitive damages awarded in Illinois.
When determining economic damages for personal injuries in an Illinois auto accident, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant caused his/her injuries and that he/she was unable to work because of injuries sustained in the accident.