An accident that does not cause broken bones can still be serious. Serious soft-tissue injuries frequently happen in auto accidents, including whiplash and stretched tendons in the lower back, shoulders, elbows and knees. However, soft-tissue injuries are difficult to document and prove in court. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons makes it very clear that such injuries are real and debilitating. Many soft-tissue injuries — for example, a serious strain or tendonitis — require surgical repair. Moreover, contusions that persist can cause permanent damage to soft tissues.
What impact might a soft-tissue injury have on the victim’s life? And how can a soft tissue injury be the basis of a personal injury lawsuit? The details surrounding the potential seriousness and legal implications of soft-tissue damage include:
- Bodily functions depend on soft-tissue function: Soft tissues support bones and how bones and muscles connect. In the case of contusions (internal bruising), blood pooling around an injury can sometimes lead to permanent damage to soft tissues. When bones and muscles normally supported by damaged soft tissue can no longer function, a person may not be able to use their hands, arms, legs and feet. Whiplash (in the neck and back) can be particularly disabling.
- Soft-tissue injuries can take a long time to heal (if at all): Some injuries may take months to heal. Others never will.
- Other parties can be responsible for soft tissue injuries: If another driver is responsible for an accident that leaves you with lingering problems due to a soft-tissue injury, you should not bear the cost. Similarly, a soft-tissue injury you sustain because of an unsafe floor or stairway due to building negligence should also not force you to bear the costs.
To access the best resources available to assess soft-tissue damage and determine whether a lawsuit is viable, seek the counsel of an experienced injury attorney.