Car accidents and resulting injuries are all too common in New Jersey. In fact, according to Zebra.com, the most dangerous highway in the United States is Interstate 95 (I-95), which runs right through New Jersey, and accounts for the highest number of overall fatalities (284) and fatalities per 100 miles (14.88).
Consequently, motorists are well-advised to drive carefully in New Jersey, especially when traveling on I-95. The following offers general information regarding the most common types of car accidents and the most common types of injuries that may result.
What are the most common types of car accidents?
The most common car accidents in New Jersey are 1) rear-end hits; 2) collisions with parked vehicles (e.g., parking lot collisions and collisions with vehicles parked outside the owner's home); 3) T-bone style accidents, such as those that result when a negligent party runs a red light, runs a stop sign, or fails to observe traffic when attempting to make a left turn; 4) single-vehicle crashes (e.g., loss of control/hydroplaning and impacting a guard rail, street sign, or otherwise; or where a deer/wildlife darts out in front of a vehicle); and 5) collisions involving a pedestrian.
Following too closely or tailgating behind another car can be extremely dangerous. If the other vehicle suddenly stops, you may not have sufficient time or space to avoid a collision when following too closely behind another vehicle. These types of accidents are the most common, and when they occur, devastating injuries may result, most commonly, neck and back injuries. The best way to prevent these collisions is to keep a safe following distance at all times.
However, while we wish everyone on the road would heed this advice, the unfortunate reality is that too many drivers tailgate and cause collisions. If you are on the unfortunate end of someone else's negligent driving and you suffered injuries, you should consider contacting a New Jersey personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
Vehicle hit while parked
Unoccupied vehicle collisions are next among the most common types of car accidents in New Jersey. They generally occur in parking lots or on residential streets where speed limits are low. Thankfully these types of accidents tend to be the most minor and often only result in property damage.
When the vehicle is unoccupied, the best-case scenario is where the negligent driver sticks around to alert the vehicle owner. However, all too often, we come back to our vehicle after we've finished shopping or when we next emerge from our residences to find our vehicle damaged without so little as a note.
These incidents can be shocking, but they occur frequently. Luckily, most of us have insurance we can fall back on, and these claims tend to be relatively easy in nature. Nevertheless, it may still be prudent to speak with an attorney.
Frequently among the most devastating types of collisions are T-bone style accidents. These types of accidents are often the result of driver inattention, a lack of patience, or speeding/rushing to get to our destination, which then results in a driver running a red light or stop sign or making a left-turn without yielding to oncoming traffic.
As most T-bone crashes are caused by the negligence of a driver, the best way to avoid these types of accidents is to follow traffic laws and be observant of other vehicles. Unfortunately, just as other drivers often fail to keep a safe following distance, not every driver is responsible.
If you were the unfortunate victim of someone else's negligent driving and you suffered injuries as a result, you should consider contacting a New Jersey personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
Single Vehicle Crash
Single vehicle accidents often happen as well and usually are the result of uncontrollable circumstances such as hydroplaning, spinning out of control, hitting stationary objects, or deer/wildlife darting into the roadway.
However, these crashes also often involve teen or inexperienced drivers who operate their vehicles recklessly/above the vehicle's capabilities. Generally, it is the result of overcorrecting a small mistake or braking too hard that causes these types of accidents.
While an excessive amount of variables makes it hard to advise on how to avoid all single-car accidents, some general advice is to avoid reckless driving and dangerous speeds and practice even more caution in inclement weather such as snow, rain, fog, and icy conditions.
Where you were a passenger involved in a single-car accident, often a claim may exist against the operator, and you should consult a New Jersey personal injury attorney to discuss. Notwithstanding, even where you were the operator of the vehicle injured in a single-vehicle crash, claims may nevertheless exist depending on the surrounding circumstances. To determine whether any third-party liability exists, it is best to speak with a New Jersey personal injury attorney who has experience handling car accident claims.
Pedestrian Hit By Car
When a pedestrian is hit by a car or truck, the injuries can be severe or fatal. Consequently, as a driver, you must at all times look for pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. As a pedestrian, you should at all times observe walk/stop indicators and use designated sidewalks/trails. Further, avoid jaywalking.
Nevertheless, if you have been hit by a car or truck while a pedestrian and have suffered serious injuries, the best thing to do is speak with a New Jersey pedestrian accident lawyer.
What are the three (3) collisions that occur in a car accident?
Believe it or not, car accidents involve three (3) collisions: 1) vehicle collision; 2) person collision; and 3) internal collision. Each carries its own dangers and commonly may result in different types of injuries.
The first collision occurs when a car strikes another object, most commonly another vehicle, but the collision may also be with an object on the road, a pedestrian, deer/wildlife, stationary objects, etc.
Luckily, modern vehicles are equipped with safety features that absorb the bulk of the kinetic energy involved. These safety features include crumple zones and airbags. However, car occupants are not totally protected, and neck and back injuries often result from whiplash.
In accord with Newton's first law of motion, which states that "an object in motion stays in motion," even though the kinetic energy of the vehicle may have been reduced through modern technology, the human body will continue to travel at the same speed and direction of the car. This is where seatbelts are most important and save lives by stopping the motion of the human body. When a seatbelt is not worn by a passenger involved in a car accident, the human collision is typically with the steering wheel, dashboard, back of the seat, or windshield.
However, even when seatbelts are worn, the human body still often collides with more than just the seatbelt. Often, as a result of sitting too close to the steering wheel, individuals impact the steering wheel, dash, airbag, etc. These collisions often result in facial and chest injuries.
The final collision that may occur in a car accident is an internal collision. Although not visible, the body may suffer internal damages in a car accident. Internal organs move during a crash and may slam into other organs or the skeletal system. Concussions are very common in car accidents as well, as the brain floats in a layer of cerebrospinal fluid and can cause the brain to bounce around your skull resulting in bruising. Additionally, broken ribs, internal bleeding, and organ injuries such as a ruptured spleen are common.
As internal injuries may not be known immediately, it is important to see a doctor following a crash, even if you feel okay. If serious injuries are revealed, it is best to contact a New Jersey car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
What are the most common injuries in a car accident?
Car accidents cause damage. Most often, the most obvious and visible damage is the destruction of your car. However, car accidents may also cause extensive damage to your body, which may not be immediately visible.
Car crashes involve a great deal of force being applied to the human body in a very rapid course of time. This can cause the body to move, twist, and bend in ways it is not meant to. The following will briefly overview the most common injuries sustained in a car accident.
Neck and Back Injuries
Neck and back injuries are among the most common types of injuries sustained in a car crash. The human spine was not designed to sustain heavy impacts. It is especially susceptible to injury in car accident crashes.
The human spine is broken into three sections: the cervical spine (neck); the thoracic spine (middle); and the lumbosacral spine (lower back). The majority of people are born with 33 individual bones called vertebrae, but with age, these bones fuse, and by adulthood, most people have only 24 vertebrae. Between each of these bones are jelly-like discs called intervertebral discs, which may herniate (rupture) or bulge under the intense and rapid force that your body may undergo in a car crash.
Where these discs herniate or bulge, they can press on the nerves in your spine, causing severe pain and injury. If pain presents itself, you should consult with an orthopedist. Depending on the severity of the injury, the orthopedist may send you for an MRI or EMG to diagnose the cause of pain and may likewise recommend physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. Where the injury is particularly severe, surgery may be recommended.
As neck and back injuries may be permanent and can lead to serious impairment of life, it is essential to consult with a physician as soon as possible. Thereafter, you should consult a New Jersey accident lawyer.
Often associated with neck or back injuries, and as briefly mentioned above, nerve injuries, particularly concerning the spinal cord, are often caused by herniations or bulges of the intervertebral discs. When a disc impinges on the spinal cord, it can cause "shooting pains" throughout the body, including the extremities (arms and legs). This is often referred to as a "pinched nerve," sciatica, or radiculopathy.
Radicular pains often result in numbness and tingling, and muscle weakness. If left untreated, the risk of permanent damage and symptoms increases exponentially. For this reason, it is important to consult an orthopedist who may send you for a diagnostic study known as an EMG, which has been shown to be useful in the diagnosis of radiculopathy and has correlated well with findings on myelography and surgery.
In addition to radicular injuries, peripheral neuropathy may also result from car accidents. Peripheral neuropathy is similar to radiculopathy, but where radiculopathy deals with damage specifically to the nerves associated with the spine, peripheral neuropathy is damage to the secondary nerves located at the body's peripheral.
As nerve injuries may be permanent and can likewise lead to serious impairment of life, it is important that you consult with a physician as soon as possible. Once your health has been taken care of, it may likewise be prudent to speak with a New Jersey personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
Trauma to the head, especially the brain, is among the most common fatal injury sustained in a car accident. Concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and permanent brain damage may all result from a car accident. These types of injuries typically result from hitting your head on parts of your vehicle, whether it be the windshield, dashboard, steering wheel, airbag, the front seat, or side windows.
Prompt treatment for any head injury is crucial. Thankfully concussions are the most common and generally treatable, but they can still be dangerous. On the other hand, if not appropriately treated, traumatic brain injuries and permanent brain damage may cause long-term issues with brain function, including memory loss or feeling like your brain is not working as quickly as it used to. After an accident involving a head injury, you should consult a New Jersey personal injury attorney.
Knee injuries can also be quite common depending on where and how you are seated in the vehicle. Just as with head injuries, passengers within cars often also hit their knees on the dashboard, the steering wheel, or the front seats.
Knees are quite complicated, and severe injuries to the surrounding bones, ligaments, and tendons, as well as the patella (knee cap), can occur. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the knee.
Chest injuries sustained in car accidents typically result from the seatbelt, which acts to slow the body, which according to Newton's first law, will be moving as fast as the car at the time of impact. Therefore, we can hit the seatbelt with our chest at excessive speeds (e.g., 65 mph on the highway). Consequently, it is no surprise that bruising, lacerations, or even cracked or broken ribs may result from the seatbelt. However, using of a seatbelt also prevents the passenger from traveling through the windshield and, therefore, should be used at all times when in a moving vehicle.
In addition to seatbelt injuries to the chest, chest pains are also common indicators of a multitude of additional injuries such as heart attacks or panic attacks, which may result from the stress and emotional anguish that often accompanies being involved in a car crash.
Chest pains may be signs of significant injuries below the surface. As such, always consult a physician to ensure that you are okay. Thereafter, you should consult a New Jersey car accident attorney to discuss your legal options.
Arm and Leg Injuries
Both the arms and legs are the most likely to break during a car accident, as they are the least likely to be protected by airbags and other safety features in the event of a car crash. Fortunately, however, bruises, scrapes, and lacerations to the extremities are much more common than fractures or breaks. Nevertheless, in particularly severe accidents, loss of a limb may occur.
Following an accident, you should watch out for pain, bruising, swelling, numbness and tingling, limited range of motion, snapping/popping sounds, or deformity to the limbs, as tell-tale signs of arm and leg injuries. If these types of symptoms persist, always consult a doctor. Thereafter, if you wish to discuss your legal options, you should consult an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue damage involves injury to the body's connective tissue and includes sprains, strains, bruising, and other damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These types of injuries are extremely common in automobile accidents and can be very painful and long-lasting.
Internal injuries often may require surgery. Damage to internal organs can result from flying debris or the body hitting the inside of the vehicle resulting in blunt force trauma. Internal injuries can similarly result from being pinned between objects following a car accident. Internal bleeding can result in death, and immediate medical attention should be sought.
Mental and Emotional Injuries
Not all car accident injuries are physical. You may also suffer from mental and emotional injuries following a car accident. Often after someone has been in a car accident, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and things that used to be routine, such as driving to the grocery store, can become extremely stressful, worrisome, and even in some cases impossible. Drastic mood swings, rapid changes in temperament, depression, flashbacks, social anxiety, or feelings of hopelessness may be signs of PTSD.
In many cases, injuries resulting from car crashes are not immediately apparent or known. Symptoms of pain may take days or even weeks to present themselves. For that reason, it is prudent to seek medical attention regardless of how you feel following a car crash.
If you have suffered injuries due to a car or truck accident, you should contact a New Jersey accident attorney who has experience making and prosecuting claims. If you wish to discuss your legal options, Farrell & Thurman, P.C., offers a variety of convenient ways to schedule a free, no-pressure consultation. You may do so directly on our website (Schedule A Consult), via phone (609-924-1115), or by email (Contact Us).