Sprains and strains in car accidents are common. These are injuries to the ligaments, muscles, or tendons caused by direct impact, twisting, or overextending a joint. When a crash forces your joints to bend beyond the normal range of motion, the tissues that stabilize the joint suffer damage. This is a strain or sprain, depending on the tissues injured.
What is a sprain?
Sprains are injuries involving ligaments. Ligaments are connective tissues that stretch from one bone to another around a joint, stabilizing it. The tension created by ligaments is key in ensuring the joints work correctly. Damage can prevent bending a joint and impede motion. This is especially problematic in the ankles and knees, where a sprain can limit mobility for weeks during healing.
Some sprains are minor, and usually heal quickly with rest. Others are much more serious, and may even require surgery.
There are three grades of sprains:
- Grade 1: Only slight stretching occurs, and little damage to the ligament itself is present.
- Grade 2: Partial tearing of the ligament is visible in scans, and the joint seems somewhat unstable.
- Grade 3: The ligament tears in two, causing instability and prevents bending.
What is a strain?
A strain is similar to a sprain, except it affects a muscle or tendon instead of a ligament. Tendons attach the muscles to the bone, ensuring joints have the strength they need to lift, kick, jump or complete other motions. Tendon and muscle strains from a car crash most commonly occur in the neck, back, leg and foot.
In the same way that sprains receive a grade based on severity, a strain can be mild, moderate or severe. The impact from a crash can stretch, partially tear or completely sever a tendon.
Symptoms of a strain include:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty flexing the affected body part
What treatment is available?
Many people attempt to treat mild sprains and strains at home, although this can be a mistake. If you suffered any injury in a car accident, you should seek medical attention to ensure you have not underestimated the extent of the injury. Minor injuries often do heal with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) but physical therapy is sometimes necessary to recover range of motion and strength.
Moderate to severe sprains or strains require bracing, and restricted use of the affected body part. This often means limited mobility if the injury is to a leg. Some partial or complete ligament or tendon tears require surgical repair, and then immobilization for the duration of healing. Physical therapy follows to rehabilitate the injured joint.
Even minor soft tissues injuries take several weeks to fully heal. This often severely limits your capacity to work, especially if your job requires lifting or standing. Lost wages add up quickly. Even once you can return to work, regular physical therapy may mean more time away from the office. Add all of these missed paychecks to your medical bills and other accident-related expenses, and the total can seem astronomical.
How can I get compensation for a sprain or strain I suffered in a car accident?
Pennsylvania law allows you to choose between two types of auto insurance: full or limited tort. You can opt for full tort auto insurance that lets you to file a liability claim to collect compensation for pain and suffering if the other driver was at-fault, or you can choose a limited tort plan that allows you to sue for your financial losses, but not pain and suffering, except in limited circumstances.
However, limited tort policyholders may sue for pain and suffering if their injury meets a serious injury threshold. A sprain or strain may fall under the “serious impairment of a bodily function” exception, depending on a number of factors:
- How long the impairment lasts
- The degree of disability
- The importance of the impaired function
- How this impacts your work, hobbies and family life
Carrying traditional insurance coverage – or surpassing the state’s threshold for a serious injury – allows you to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy or file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation that includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
How can Cordisco & Saile LLC help me get the compensation I deserve?
Cordisco & Saile LLC works with all types of Pennsylvania car accident cases, ensuring victims get the compensation they need and deserve. Call us today at 215-791-8910 to schedule a free case evaluation, and to learn more about your legal rights.