Pedestrians are a vulnerable group on American roads. Millions of people use these roads as pedestrians daily. Whether they are going to work, exercising, or running errands, they risk being in a pedestrian accident.
Pedestrians are prone to suffer serious injuries when hit by vehicles. The sheer force of moving metal against flesh can leave the unprotected pedestrian with life-threatening and permanent injuries.
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm helps pedestrians and their families lighten the accident's burden by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. We help you establish the connection between your injuries and the accident. This article explains the common injuries, signs, symptoms, treatment, and outlook of various injuries that you could sustain in a pedestrian accident.
Overview of Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrians could sustain minor to severe injuries after an accident, depending on the type of the accident and its severity. The injuries could range from minor cuts and bruises to severe traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
The more severe an injury, the higher the medical costs and damages the victim incurs, including lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain. Some injuries cause permanent disability and dependence on medical care and caregiver assistance to handle basic activities such as feeding and taking care of personal hygiene.
In other cases, pedestrian accidents result in the wrongful death of your loved one. Whether it is a child or an adult, they lose the chance to live the life they could have had without the accident.
Promising lives are cut short; parents lose their children, children lose their parents and wind up experiencing significant struggle before they can adjust to life without their loved one. Here are the common pedestrian accident injuries:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The brain is the center that controls every activity of the body, from learning to eating, sleeping to solving complex problems at work. However, it is also the most delicate organ when injured.
Even with the skull offering sound protection to the brain, the force of a car crashing against a pedestrian is enough to break through this barrier and cause injuries to the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries kill more than 50,000 people in America every year, and most of them die within the first 24 hours of injuries. Even those who survive have to struggle with long-term problems, including disability, headaches, and cognitive and memory problems.
Traumatic brain injury occurs when a blow, jolt, or bump causes a physical impact, such as when your body hits the road during a pedestrian accident. Pedestrian accidents primarily cause brain injury quickly since the jolt forces the brain against the skull, and sometimes the brain moves back and forth within the skull during the crash.
Such movement can cause both primary and secondary brain injury. Primary injury occurs upon the first impact. Secondary brain injury results after primary injury and often causes swelling of the brain. Such swelling creates pressure within the head, resulting in mild to severe traumatic brain injury.
The common types of brain injuries include:
- Contusions or bruises in the brain
- Diffuse axonal injuries which involve damage of the nerve axons
- Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Hematoma (rupturing of blood vessels in the brain)
The symptoms of traumatic brain injury could develop immediately depending on its severity or masked by the adrenaline rush you experience after an accident. Some injuries could take up to five days to show any symptoms.
The symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries include:
- The victim could lose consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Where the person does not lose consciousness, he or she appears confused, or disoriented.
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Problems with sleep
- Difficulties with speech
- Sleeping too much
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Mood swings, anxiety, and feelings of depression
- Problems with memory and concentration
Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries include:
- Loss of consciousness that last more than several minutes to several hours
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Constantly feeling nauseous or vomiting
- Dilations of the pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Problems waking from sleep
- A weakness of the fingers and toes
- Poor coordination
- Unusual behavior such as agitation
- Slurred speech
- Disorders of consciousness including a coma, vegetative state, minimal consciousness, and brain death
Traumatic brain injuries could also lead to complications, which could stay for several weeks to months, and sometimes for life, depending on the severity of the injury. These complications include:
- Cognitive problems with memory, learning, concentration, reasoning, and judgment
- Problems with solving problems, planning, beginning of completing tasks, organization, and decision-making
- Language and communication problems include difficulties in understanding speech, following conversations, organizing thoughts and ideas, speaking, and writing.
- Social problems including stating or stopping conversations and using non-verbal and verbal cues
- Behavioral problems including problems with self-control, self-awareness, and outbursts
- Emotional changes including anxiety, depression, mood swings, anger, and insomnia
- Vision problems
- Impaired coordination
- Problems with balance
According to research, traumatic brain injury also increases the risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
If the doctor suspects traumatic brain injuries, they will require imaging tests to view the brain. These tests will determine whether you have additional conditions such as:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Blood clots
- Brain tissue swelling
For mild injury, treatment requires rest, pain relievers, and constant monitoring if symptoms worsen. The doctor will also require you to stay at home for some time to allow healing.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury requires immediate emergency care to ensure that the brain receives adequate blood and oxygen and stabilizes blood pressure. A brain deprived of oxygen will suffer permanent damage or death.
This type of care is crucial in preventing further injuries to the brain. It could include medications such as diuretics to lower the fluids in the body, anti-seizure medications to prevent brain damage due to seizures, coma-inducing medication to allow the brain some time to recover.
Doctors may use emergency surgery to minimize damage to the brain by removing blood clots, repairing skull fractures, stopping bleeding in the brain, and opening the skull to relieve pressure.
People with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries need rehabilitation to learn skills such as talking, walking, and feeding themselves. Therapy will include psychiatrists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, neuropsychologists, social workers, rehabilitation nurses, recreation therapists, and vocational counselors.
These specialists work together with patients and their family helping them adjust to the injury and the possible long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal injuries, and pedestrians are more likely to suffer severe spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries occur due to damage of a part of the spinal cord or the spinal cord's nerves, often leading to changes in the strength, sensation, and functions of body parts below the are of injury.
The signs and symptoms of spinal cord injuries depend on the location and severity of the injury. Complete spinal injuries are those that lead to a total loss of sensation and motor function below the site of the injury.
Incomplete spinal injuries lead to a partial loss of sensation and movement in the area below the injury site.
The symptoms of spinal cord injury include:
- Loss of movement
- Altered or loss of sensation
- Changes in sexual sensitivity and fertility
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Intense stinging or pain
- Respiratory difficulties
If you or a loved one has one of the following symptoms, you should visit an emergency room immediately or call 911:
- Extreme pain or pressure in the head, back or neck
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Weakness, incoordination or paralysis in any part of your body
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in the hands or feet
- Problems with balance and walking
- Impaired breathing
- Your neck or back is in an odd position.
In some cases, spinal injuries can go undetected, leading to more severe injuries. When you notice any problems mentioned above, and you have been in an accident, you need to visit the hospital immediately.
The time between injury and treatment can make a difference in temporary and permanent injury.
The spinal cord serves as the message center between the brain and other parts of the body. Damage to the spinal cord can result in temporary and permanent complications such as:
- Problems with bladder and bowel control
- Loss of all or part of skin sensations including the inability to sense pressure, heat, and cold
- Problems with circulatory control, thus increasing the risk of developing low blood pressure, blood clots, and pulmonary embolisms.
- Respiratory problems including difficulties in breathing and coughing
- Muscle tone problems including flaccidity and spasticity
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle and joint pain
The diagnosis of spinal cord injuries involves the use of imaging tests and a neurological exam to determine the extensiveness of the injury.
Scientists have yet to develop a treatment to cure damage to the spinal cord. Therefore, treatment involves preventing further injuries and offering rehabilitation and education to caregivers to help them live with the condition.
It is possible to live a full and productive life after a spinal cord injury. It might not be possible to engage in activities you enjoyed, such as sports, but with rehabilitation and counseling, you can learn skills such as:
- How to keep your muscles strengthened
- Relearning motor skills
- Learning adaptive techniques to handle daily activities
- Recommendations for the technologies you can use to facilitate social interactions, hobbies, and career development.
The prognosis for people who suffer spinal cord injuries depends on the severity of these injuries and the recovery you make within the first six months. Spinal cord injuries will affect most areas of your life, but if you feel depressed, you will need to speak to a mental health expert to help you deal with your injuries or those of your loved one.
Pedestrians bear the greater force of vehicle accidents since they lack the protection of a car, airbags, and seatbelts. Their bodies have to break the impact of the accident and absorb all the shock that comes with the crash.
Such force has caused traumatic amputations for many pedestrians who lose their limbs during an accident.
Apart from traumatic amputations due to the force of the accident, pedestrians involved in accidents might require surgical amputations to deal with complications that arise due to the accident.
Most of these complications arise when the affected area lacks sufficient blood supply after the accident, leading to the permanent death of the surrounding tissues. Surgical amputation is also necessary when the tissues and bones of the affected limbs are damaged beyond repair, usually as a last-resort treatment. Traumatic amputations come with several risks, including bleeding, infection, and shock.
In traumatic amputations, the doctors could attempt to reattach the amputated limb if it is still viable. Reattachment could be successful or unsuccessful depending on factors such as the damage to the surrounding tissues during amputation, the health of the victim, and the condition of the amputated limb.
Treatment often continues for the rest of your life since you could be dealing with constant phantom pain and mental health issues. In addition, if you need prosthetics, you will need some care and rehabilitation to learn to use them.
The biggest impact of amputations is on the mental health of the individual. Even the loss of a finger can affect your life significantly. You will have to relearn basic activities such as feeding, dressing, walking, and in some cases, you will be dependent on others to help you with these activities.
About 10% of pedestrians who are in traffic accidents sustain pelvic injuries. These injuries are common when the vehicle hits the pedestrians from the side.
The pelvis provides support to the body in addition to protecting the underlying organs, including:
- Sexual reproduction organs
- The bladder
- Blood vessels and nerves that serve the legs
- The bowel
Pelvic injuries differ depending on the accident (including the side from which the motorist hit you. These injuries could be:
- Anterior-posterior compression fractures which widen the pelvic ring
- Lateral compression injuries
- Vertical shear injuries, which are serious injuries to the pelvis and can cause significant harm to the underlying organs. The recovery from these types of injuries could also be complicated and lengthy.
- Complex pattern injuries combine two or more of the previously mentioned injuries.
Pelvis fractures could also be stable or unstable. These are the common classifications used to define the alignment of the pelvic bone after a pelvic fracture. Stable pelvic fractures describe fractures that do not displace the bone. Such injuries leave the pelvis holding its shape and are much easier to treat and recover from.
On the other hand, unstable fractures occur when the pelvis has two or more fractures, and the broken bones are displaced from the pelvic ring. Most pedestrian accidents are high impact ones on the pedestrians and more likely to cause unstable pelvic fractures.
Unstable pelvic fractures also increase the risk of injuries to the underlying organs and have higher internal bleeding incidences.
Some of the common symptoms of pelvic fractures include:
- Pain and tenderness in the pelvic region
- Bruising or swelling of the skin on the pelvic bones
- Tingling in the genitals or the thighs
- Pain when sitting or having a bowel movement.
- Blood in urine
- Unstable fractures could present symptoms such as severe pain in the pelvis, back, abdomen, groin and legs, shock, and unconsciousness.
One of the complications of pelvic injuries in internal bleeding is usually one of the things a doctor looks for when you go in for a post-accident checkup. In addition to checking for bleeding, the doctor will determine the source and severity of pelvic fractures through imaging tests to determine the best treatment approach.
The doctor runs tests to determine the source of the bleeding and control it through an embolization procedure. The doctor will require a surgical procedure if you have lost a lot of blood.
After the doctor stabilizes you, you could need an orthopedic specialist to fix the pelvis to facilitate healing. In most cases, the treatment of your pelvis fracture will involve surgery, whose complexity depends on the complexity of the injuries you sustained.
The common procedures used in the treatment of pelvic fractures include:
- Internal fixation
- External fixation
The doctor will also recommend bed rest, mobilization, blood thinners, painkillers, and exercises to facilitate healing and resume the use of your pelvis.
Walking is possible for most people who have pelvic fractures. It could take several months before you walk against, and in some cases, your mobility could be affected permanently.
Bones are in most parts of the body, offering support when you stand or sit. Bones such as those of the ribcage and the pelvis protect delicate internal organs from injury.
Most of the bones affected during a car accident include those of the lower extremities, abdomen, and head. The fractures also vary in their severity based on the nature of the fracture, its location, and the underlying tissues.
These fractures could be described in different ways depending on their location and the nature of the fracture. Based on location, the fracture could be:
- Proximal or closer to the center of the body
- Distal or further from the center of the body
- Anterior or towards the front of the body
- Posterior or towards the back
- Medial or toward the middle of the body
- Lateral or on the outer edges of the body
Fractures can be defined based on the nature of the fracture as follows:
- Transverse fractures which occur across the bone
- Oblique fractures where the bone breaks in an angle
- Spiral fractures where the bone breaks in a spiral down the length of the bone
- Comminuted fractures which occur when the bone fractures in more than two parts
- Open fractures where the bone breaks through the skin
Fractures could be classified based on the specific bones affected as follows:
- Compression fractures which occur on the spinal column
- Skull fractures occur when the skull receives a significant blow during an accident. Skull fractures could be basilar (at the base of the skull), depressed skull fractures, and open skull fractures.
The most common symptoms of broken bones are the inability to use the affected limb, pain, and swelling. Except for open fractures, broken bones require imaging tests.
Doctors rely mostly on stabilization and immobilization of the affected area to facilitate the healing of the bone. Some cases will require emergency surgery to facilitate realignment and remove bone fragments that could have pierced surrounding tissues.
Surgery is also required to repair nearby tissues, nerves, and blood vessels injured by the fracture. In some cases, such as where you suffered broken limbs and spent substantial time in recovery, you will need physical therapy to relearn to use your limbs.
People who suffer broken bones can heal completely depending on the affected bone, the nature of the fracture, underlying medical conditions, and the person's age. Young people are more likely to heal faster and fully compared to older people.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
Pedestrian accidents affect the quality of your life, your finances, and your ability to work. If you are lucky, you could leave the accident scene with a few minor cuts and bruises and no serious injuries. However, you could also develop severe life-threatening injuries.
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm helps families affected by pedestrian accidents to recover compensation for their injuries. We help you gather the relevant documents, witness accounts, and evidence you need to recover the damages you suffer due to the injury or death of your loved one.
Some people look at seeking compensation as capitalizing your injuries. However, the medical bills that accumulate during the recovery period coupled with the lost wages can place an enormous burden on your finances. Recovering compensation lets you offset this financial burden.
Contact us at 702-996-1224 for a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys.