Victims of motor vehicle accidents can suffer a range of serious injuries, from broken bones to internal organ injuries to traumatic brain and spinal cord damage. Under Massachusetts' no-fault car insurance laws, if your medical costs will exceed $2000 and your injuries cause a serious impairment of important bodily function, you can seek damages from the at-fault driver.
A soft tissue injury may seem minor compared to other kinds of injuries, but a sprain or strain can cause a great deal of pain and a permanent disability.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to get the insurance company for the at-fault driver to take a soft tissue injury seriously and fully compensate you for losses.
However, with the help of the right motor vehicle accident attorney, you can prove the severity of your injury and get the compensation to which you are entitled.
What's a Soft Tissue Injury?
First, it’s important to understand what kinds of injuries we’re talking about when we refer to soft tissue. Any damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues that connect, support, or surround structures and organs of the body is considered a soft tissue injury.
Common types of soft-tissue injuries include:
- Whiplash. This injury to the neck occurs when a sudden acceleration/deceleration force, often caused by a rear-end collision, causes the neck to whip back and forth, stretching the ligaments and muscles. It can be a debilitating injury that requires months of treatment and physical therapy.
- Muscle tears. Along with muscle tears that whiplash cause, muscles throughout the body can be torn in a collision. Back muscles are particularly affected by car accidents. Muscles can be very slow to heal, requiring time off work and assistance with daily activities.
- Strains and sprains. Typically, strains involve muscles and tendons, while sprains involve ligaments. Any time a limb or joint is forced beyond its normal range, a sprain or strain can occur. Along with physical therapy, these injuries often just require rest and significant time away from work.
- Bruises. Deep muscle contusions can be quite painful and prevent the victim from doing normal activities.
While broken bones often heal in six-to-eight weeks, it can take significantly longer for a soft tissue injury to heal, and some injuries never do heal completely.
Challenges to Getting Compensation for a Soft Tissue Injury
The other driver was clearly at fault, you’re in pain, and a doctor has provided a diagnosis, so your claim for compensation should sail through, right? Unfortunately, this isn't usually the case with soft tissue injuries. When seeking compensation for a sprain or strain, you will likely face the following challenges:
- Delayed symptoms. If you suffered whiplash in a car accident, you might appear fine at the scene of the crash. The same is true for strained backs, sprained joints, and muscle tears. This is because it can take several hours—or even a few days—for symptoms of these injuries to appear. If you don't see a doctor right away because you think you’re fine, this can hurt your claim later on.
- Lack of medical evidence. Soft tissue injuries don't show up on X-rays or MRIs, so there's no easy way to provide evidence that the injury is real, like there is for a broken bone or traumatic brain injury.
- Documenting injuries. It will take extra effort by you—and your attorney—to carefully document your medical treatment, physical limitations, and pain and suffering. Sometimes, presenting complete records, including a personal journal, will convince an insurance adjuster or a judge of the seriousness of your injuries.
Some personal injury attorneys won't accept soft tissue injuries because of these challenges, but the motor vehicle accident attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, would be happy to evaluate your claim and, if we can add value to your recovery, we'll explain how.
We Offer Free, No-Obligation Case Evaluations
Contact Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, as soon as you can after your Massachusetts car, truck, or motorcycle accident. In a free consultation, we’ll review your case and tell you if we think we can add value and increase your odds of a successful claim. If you're suffering from whiplash or another kind of soft tissue injury, trust our team to get you the compensation you deserve.