2020 Guide to Car Accident Injuries in NSW
A car accident injury can come out of the blue and disrupt your life, especially if it’s a serious injury. It can mean time off work, medical appointments and treatment, hospital time and surgery. Apart from the physical and emotional toll there can also be significant financial costs to deal with. This guide to car accident injury NSW will help you understand more about the common injuries associated with car accidents, including tips and advice on what to do if you’ve been injured.
What do I do if I’ve been injured in a car accident?
If you’ve suffered an injury after a car accident you should see your GP and get a certificate of fitness/ certificate of capacity. This is your doctor’s assessment of your injuries and your ability to return to work.
It’s important to call the police after an accident if you or anyone else was injured, and also if:
- Any of the drivers were drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Any cars had to be towed
- The other driver didn’t stop or exchange details with you
||If you need any time off work or you’ve incurred any expenses as a result of your injuries, you should submit a car injury claim to receive compensation for your losses through the NSW CTP insurance scheme. The scheme provides personal injury benefits to cover certain losses you incur because of your car crash injuries.|
What injuries can you get from a car accident?
According to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) car accident whiplash is the most common soft tissue injury suffered in car accidents in NSW. Other common injuries include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Brain and head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Knee and shoulder trauma
- Psychological injuries
It’s important to note that more serious injuries can take some time to stabilise. Also minor injuries can lead to other injuries over time – for example, an injured knee that causes a limp can cause hip and back issues over time. If you believe your car crash injuries have worsened over time, see your GP and get your certificate of capacity updated. This could impact your ability to return to work and your entitlement to personal injury benefits.
What is considered a serious injury in a car accident?
Under the CTP insurance scheme, Car accident injuries in NSW are classified as “minor” and “non-minor”.
Non-minor physical injuries include:
- Complete or partial rupture of a tendon, cartilage, meniscus or ligament
- Damage to the spinal nerve root that meets the criteria for radiculopathy
- Injuries that require surgery
- Brain injuries
Injuries such as bruising, muscle strains or soft tissue injuries are considered ‘minor injuries’. A whiplash injury claim in NSW is considered a minor injury claim.
Car accident injuries are not just physical – many people suffer psychological or psychiatric injuries after an accident, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For a psychological or psychiatric injury to be a non-minor injury, it needs to be a condition related to the accident which is diagnosable under the “DSM-5”- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition.
Here are some examples of car accident injury symptoms which may lead to a non-minor diagnosis:
- Reduced ability to look after yourself (self-care and personal hygiene)
- Reduced participation in social or recreational activities
- Reduced ability to travel
- Reduced ability to maintain relationships with friends and family
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Reduced ability to work
For more information on what you can claim for car accident injuries in NSW refer to our CTP Claims Guide
What injuries can you get from being rear ended?
Whiplash from a car accident is the most common injury from a rear-end collision. Whiplash is caused by a violent, sudden movement of the neck and head from the impact of the accident. Although painful, whiplash generally doesn’t affect the vital nerves, bones or other structures located within the neck and in the short term pain from this sort of neck injury from a car accident can be reduced with ice, pain-relief medication and rest.
Other common injuries from rear-end accidents include:
- Back injuries
- Breaks and fractures
- Airbag injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Seat belt injuries
How long does neck pain last after a car accident?
If you have car accident whiplash, most of the pain should reduce significantly a couple of days after the accident as the soft tissue begins to heal and inflammation reduces. However, in some cases the neck pain after a car accident lasts up to six weeks and in the most extreme cases in can continue for months or even years, requiring ongoing treatment.
Why does my lower back hurt after a car accident?
There are a number of injuries that can cause lower back pain after a car accident. Here are some common examples:
The discs of the spine may have sustained damage. This sort of pain can affect any part of the spine, but the lower back (lumbar spine) is particularly susceptible. If the discs are damaged, it’s likely you’ll experience intense pain along with difficulty moving.
Lumbar sprains (when the ligaments of the back are stretched or torn) can also be caused by car accidents because of the sudden trauma of the impact.
Disc herniation occurs when the inner filling of the discs of the spine protrudes through the outer layer. The rupture itself is generally not painful, but when the protruding material contacts spinal nerves it can be very painful.
How long does back pain last after a car accident?
If your back pain is caused by injury to the soft tissue in the lower back, and not the spine or joints, then depending on the severity it’s likely to settle in the days, weeks or months following the accident. However, symptoms of more serious spine injuries can take longer to develop and recovery times will depend on the diagnosis and treatment required.
Many car accident injuries to the back can be detected early through tests and imaging, and even if there isn’t an injury a scan can give you the peace of mind to know that your pain is very likely to decrease as the joints and muscles recover and inflammation reduces.