By: Kimball Law
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Common Injuries & Recovery from Car Accidents in Nova Scotia
There’s no way of predicting what injuries you will sustain in an accidents. We have situations with high speed, head-on accidents, horrific accidents with a lot of damage to vehicles and people walk away from the with no injury. On the other end of the spectrum we have low-impact, low speed, rear-ender type accidents in which individuals end up having lifelong chronic pain. So there’s no predicting these situations. Clearly, some of the most serious accidents occur in these high-speed collisions that are associated with extensive property damage. But as I’ve indicated, there’s no direct correlation from one to the other.
Role of Seatbelts on Your Case
It’s of particular importance in discussing that, that people understand how large an impact a concern for your own personal safety is in these circumstances. Use of seatbelts is of vital importance in all those circumstances when operating or in a motor vehicle. Not to do so is against the law. If you’ve been injured and have a claim, failure to wear your seatbelt at the time of the accident will result in a reduction of your claim for compensation. Unless you fall into a small category of people who are not required to wear a seatbelt, which may relate to occupation. Also, if you have medical advice and support for not wearing a seatbelt.
Monitor Yourself for Injuries after the Accident
In the aftermath of an accident, it’s a pretty exciting time. If you’ve ever been in an accident, you understand it can be a little surreal. The adrenaline is coursing through your body, you’re not always aware of all the effects of the accident and particular injuries you may have sustained.
So, a couple of words by way of rule of thumb to guide you as you go through this kind of period. If after an accident, you’re at the scene, you’ve taken care of all the things you should do at the accident scene before you leave, you want to be aware of your condition and of those that are with you. If you’re having any symptoms at all or people that are with you in your vehicle, are having symptoms of accident or injury, then you should seek medical attention right away.
Sometimes that requires an ambulance ride to the hospital, but other times it just means getting yourself to the local ER and having yourself checked out. Some of these injuries can be subtle. They present some symptoms, but we do know that in lots of cases, injuries don’t manifest themselves completely for some hours or even somedays after the accident. Generally, use the rule of thumb of 72 hours. You’re going to know whether you have symptoms or injuries within 72 hours.
Even if within the immediate aftermath of the accident, they’re not apparent. However there are certain injuries such as internal bleeding and concussion type, closed head injuries. Again, not entirely clear what you may be dealing with immediately afterwards. If you appear to be symptom-free and don’t see the need for medical attention at that time, after taking care of business at the accident scene, go ahead and go about your day. However, be careful about monitoring your situation in the coming hours and several days.
Get Checked out by ER and Your Family Doctor
If you notice symptoms that are becoming apparent either later that day or sometimes people wake up the next day and they can’t get out of bed because they’re so sore. That’s when you need to check yourself into the local outpatient department or if you have a doctor that can accommodate you, get in to see your family doctor.
In any event, whether you’ve been to the ER the day of the accident, immediately afterwards or shortly after in the next day or two. You do want to follow-up with any symptoms or injuries with your family doctor as soon as you can, but realistically within several days to a week following the accident. It’s important that you obtain the medical advice, follow the medical advice you receive because sometimes that immediate advice and treatment can be a lifesaver if it involves taking X-Rays and those kinds of diagnostics that may detect a fracture that wasn’t immediately apparent. Other times, other types of injuries may require a more intrusive examination or radiology.
What about Less Serious Injuries?
For, we’ll call them less serious injuries, that seem to involve no fractures, no concussion-type injury, no internal bleeding or anything of that nature, but just a lot of sore muscles. Then sometimes, very immediate treatment with physiotherapy, massage or chiropractor, these types of manual therapies can go a long way on getting you onto the road to recovery. So, it’s important to be mindful of the advice you receive regarding those things and to pursue that advice as early as you can.
Variable Timelines for Injury Recovery
There’s the acute phase of injuries. Obvious ones are fractures, for example. So, if you have a fracture you’ll get that advice usually from an orthopaedic specialist who will be in a position to tell you what the usual healing time is for that type of particular fracture. They’ll also tell you the kind of treatment you receive, which might involve a cast or some kind of a brace. There’s a normal healing time moving forward from the event itself to the time that that cast might come off and you’re back to full mobility, in those majority of cases where you should make a full recovery.
Dealing with Chronic Pain & Soft Tissue Injuries
However, there’s a number of injuries that are sustained that result in some level of chronic pain. Chronic pain is any kind of pain that continues beyond the normal recovery time for that particular kind of injury.
A lot of injuries that are very common in motor vehicle accident situations involve what they call soft tissue injury. You may have heard the term whiplash. Whiplash is a particular kind of soft tissue injury usually associated with the kind of injury sustained by your neck because of a back and forth motion that occurs in collisions, very often in rear-end collisions.
These kinds of injuries, referred to as soft tissue injuries are just that. They don’t involve fractures, they don’t typically involve damage to nerves, it’s just muscles, tendons and ligaments that got pulled, stretched and sometimes torn in the course of that very violent and immediate reaction to the forces of the collision.
Typically those types of injuries resolve naturally within the days and weeks following, almost completely within the 6 months timeframe following. Beyond six months, those kinds of injuries that have not resolved completely, have really added a chronic stage or chronic phase. This actually occurs in an appreciable, but although minority number of these cases.
Some people just go on to have chronic pain. It’s well understood and known in the literature. It’s very unfortunate because some of these kinds of chronic, soft tissue injuries can be quite intransigent. It doesn’t mean that they can’t go on to heal further or even go on to complete resolution within a certain timeframe – it could be a couple of years. But in some cases, they don’t ever fully resolve and people are left with longstanding symptoms that can interfere with work, with their domestic responsibilities, with their enjoyment of life for many years into the future.
Is There a Way to Know How Long an Injury Will Last?
There’s no predicting what’s going to happen to any one of us in these situations. It’s really a function of a lot of factors, including the way your body is able to handle and sustain these kinds of injuries and move you forward to hopefully, full healing. That’s why it’s important in all these cases to listen to your body, pay attention to symptoms that you are experiencing in the aftermath of an accident. Obtain medical advice and intervention as soon as possible and follow medical advice. This will help you get onto the road to healing as quickly, as efficiently and as effectively as that can be achieved.
If you have been involved in one of these kinds of accidents, it’s also a good idea, if you’re contemplating making a claim if you think you’re entitled to make a claim because other person was at fault, seek legal advice. So your lawyer that is experienced in these types of cases can intervene very early on, with you and help guide you in that process moving forward so that your legal case is paralleling your medical case.
Limitation Period for Motor Vehicle and Car Accident Cases in Nova Scotia
Keep in mind that there are limitation periods in Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions limit when you can bring an action. In Nova Scotia, car and motor vehicle accident cases must be brought within 2 years of the date of the accident. There are some exceptions to that. The ones you need to be particularly concerned about are those exceptions that mean you have to bring the action even earlier than 2 years. So don’t delay in seeing a lawyer.
We like to see people as soon as possible after an accident, meaning in the immediate weeks, sometimes days following the accidents. That way we can give people guidance about things like limitation period that is likely to apply in their case and also follow up on some of these various issues involving their medical care and insurance landscape that applies in these types of cases.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact a lawyer at Kimball Law today and book a free consultation to discuss your injuries and potential claim.