How to receive the compensation you deserve for these often undervalued injuries
Soft tissue injuries, from whiplash to muscle strains, are some of the most common injuries caused by car accidents. Unfortunately, soft tissue injuries are also some of the most difficult injuries to prove.
In this article, we’ll take a look at soft tissue injuries and how you can make sure you receive the compensation you deserve following a car accident.
What is a soft tissue injury?
The term “soft tissue injury” is used to describe injuries to the soft tissues in your body (skin, tendons, muscles, ligaments, fascia, nerves) that typically support and surround your bones and internal organs.
The most common types of soft tissue injuries include:
|Soft tissue injury||Definition/Causes||Symptoms||Treatment|
|Contusions (bruises)||Bruises are caused by a blunt force that results in compression and bleeding into the soft tissue (hematoma).||Symptoms of bruising include swelling and/or discoloration.||Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Serious contusions may need to be examined by a doctor.|
|Sprains||Sprains are a partial tear to a ligament often caused by a wrench or twist. Sprains typically affect a person’s ankles, knees, or wrists.||Symptoms include swelling, loss of ability to bear weight, discoloration, and the sudden onset of pain.||Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the ligament is completely torn, surgical repair may be necessary.|
|Tendonitis||Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon (the flexible band of tissue that connects muscle to bone). Tendonitis is often due to an overuse injury.||Symptoms develop slowly and include inflammation and pain.||Treatment includes rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Steroid injections may be used for some types of chronic tendonitis. If a tendon is completely torn, surgery may be necessary.|
|Bursitis||Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons). Bursitis is often caused by overuse, but can also be caused by direct trauma to a joint.||Symptoms include swelling, aching, or stiffness in the area. The affected joint may also hurt more when you move it or press on it.||Treatment includes rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.|
|Stress injuries||A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone, commonly occurring in the legs, hips, and feet. Stress fractures are most often caused by overuse and an increase in physical activity.||Symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, visible swelling, and loss of flexibility and strength.||Treatment includes elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Continued treatment includes rest, decreasing weight-bearing on the affected area, shoe inserts or braces, and possibly cast immobilization. If the crack in the bone progresses to a complete break, surgery may be necessary.|
|Strains||A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force, or stretching.||Symptoms include swelling, possible discoloration, and bruising.||Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If a tear in the muscle occurs, surgical repair may be needed.|
Is whiplash a soft tissue injury?
Whiplash is one of the most common soft tissue injuries caused by car accidents.
Whiplash, technically known as Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD), occurs when your head is forcefully thrown backward and then forward. This motion (referred to by experts as “an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck”) typically occurs in rear-end accidents.
Although whiplash is common, it’s not well understood. This is largely due to the fact that the injury isn’t always accompanied by obvious tissue damage detectable by X-ray or MRI.
Common causes of soft tissue injuries
The 3 most common causes of soft tissue injuries are:
- Repetitive motions over a long period of time (throwing a baseball, swinging an ax, typing on a keyboard, etc).
- Slip, trip and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents
Available damages in soft tissue injury car crashes
To receive compensation for your soft tissue injuries after a car accident, you generally must:
- Have insurance that covers your injuries regardless of fault (for example, personal injury protection or MedPay), or
- Prove that someone else caused your accident.
If you can prove that someone else caused your car accident, then you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
In most states, you’ll be able to recover the following damages:
- Economic damages represent the monetary losses caused by the accident (past and future medical expenses, lost wages, etc.)
- Non-economic damages represent the non-monetary losses caused by your accident (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.)
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are typically only available in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.
Why receiving fair compensation for soft tissue injuries can be challenging
Unlike broken bones, soft tissue injuries don’t always show up on CAT scans, X-rays, MRIs, or other imaging techniques. What’s more, the visible symptoms can look deceptively minor and the primary source of information about the extent of the damage comes from you (the plaintiff).
To put it simply:
Soft tissue injuries are typically difficult to prove and the damages hard to quantify.
As a consequence, insurance companies are generally skeptical of soft tissue injuries and typically make low initial settlement offers or deny soft tissue claims altogether. It can also be hard to convince judges and juries that your soft tissue injuries are serious.
Do I need to hire a car accident attorney?
If your insurance company is offering to settle your claim well below the actual value of your claim or your damages exceed the limits of the insurance policy, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney.
Personal injury attorneys have experience gathering evidence and persuasively explaining the true cost of soft tissue injuries to insurance companies, judges, and juries.