Have you been in an automobile accident in the last year, or know someone who has? With approximately 5 million licensed drivers in Massachusetts, accidents are bound to happen.

Many incidents are minor but serious crashes do occur. When you are in an auto wreck, you may experience pain, stress, even severe injury. The recovery process could last for life. Educate yourself, and be sure you get the care and support you need.

What causes serious injury crashes?

The World Health Organization has studied traffic incidents for many years. According to the WHO, some factors that increase the chances of vehicle injuries and fatalities include:

  • Excessive speed
  • Driver impairment by alcohol or drugs
  • Driver distraction such as by phone use
  • Failure to use protective equipment such as seat belts and helmets
  • Insufficient medical attention after a crash

You can protect yourself and others on the road by avoiding these common mistakes.

What types of injuries can result?

You probably know that whiplash is a frequent result of car collisions. Other soft-tissue injuries include internal bleeding and organ damage. Cuts can lead to permanent scars or disfigurement. You may suffer fractures or broken bones; high-speed crashes can even cause accidental amputation.

Not all injuries are apparent at the scene of the wreck. Some of the most severe ailments may not present themselves until days or weeks after a crash. You may lose feeling or experience weakness in your arms and legs, which may signify spinal cord injury. Extreme cases can result in paralysis. Brain trauma is another serious condition that you may not notice immediately. It is common to experience headaches, difficulty concentrating and increased anxiety right after a car wreck. If such symptoms continue to get worse, you may have traumatic brain injury.

What should I do?

If you are in a crash you should notify authorities, then exchange contact and insurance information with everyone involved in the wreck. Seek emergency care immediately. In the days to follow, monitor your symptoms and seek medical help as necessary. Do not let the negligence of another driver — or worries about paying doctor bills — prevent you from getting the care you deserve.