Understanding what qualifies as serious injury in a car accident

Globally, car accidents are responsible for the loss of approximately 1.3 million lives each year. In the U.S. alone, over 35,760 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred on the roadways in 2020, resulting in the loss of 38,824 lives. In fact, it’s estimated that one fatal accident leading to serious injury occurs in the U.S. every 15 minutes.

What qualifies the injuries from an accident as “serious injuries” so that the victims or their families can get the compensation that they deserve? Undoubtedly, no amount of compensation can replace the pain experienced or the loss of life in a fatal car accident.

However, pursuing pain and suffering damages after a serious injury can help reduce the trauma, emotional breakdown, and financial loss that victims or their surviving families may go through due to someone else’s negligence.

Fatal accidents are often caused by one or more of the following:

·         Overspeeding

·         Drunk driving

·         Distracted driving

·         Aggressive driving

·         Road hazards

·         Poor weather

·         Auto defects

A serious injury in a car accident is any injury that either leads to the victim’s death or causes permanent or long-term health consequences, such as serious impairment of bodily function or permanent disfigurement.

Victim’s death

Victim(s) often die due to injuries sustained from a car accident involving driver- or passenger-side impacts, head-on collisions, or rollovers. These situations lead to traumatic brain injuries, broken ribs, internal bleeding, or spinal cord injuries, which may eventually cause death.

The family of the deceased is entitled to compensation for their losses under the law. They must seek car accident legal representation to get their rights by working with a car accident attorney.

Serious Impairment of Bodily Function

Following the information about “suspected serious injury” as defined in the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline by the U.S. Department of Transportation, serious injuries include:

● Severe lacerations resulting in exposed tissue, muscle, or bone or excessive blood loss

● Broken or distorted arms or legs

● Injuries that result from being crushed

● Skull, chest, or abdominal injuries beyond minor lacerations and bruises

● Second- or third-degree burns that cover 10% or more of the body

● Unconsciousness at the scene of the accident

● Paralysis

Although each state has the autonomy to include any other condition it deems fit to be called a serious injury in a car accident, its definitions must essentially include all the above-mentioned injuries as well.

Victims of bodily impairment due to car accidents must reach out to a personal injury lawyer to help them with their accident cases. Car accident legal representation is essential for accident victims as it facilitates the process of insurance settlements, pursuing compensation, obtaining the best medical treatments, and so on.

Permanent Serious Disfigurement

Permanent serious disfigurement is when an injury leaves the victim’s body visibly and permanently damaged, even after the recovery process. Typical examples of permanent serious disfigurement are:

● Amputation

● Extensive scarring

● Contortions

Car accident lawyers can look into any injury case and determine if it qualifies as serious about helping the victim pursue financial recovery for the damages.

What to do after a serious injury in a car accident

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, there are a few important things to do; these include:

Get evidence

Often, victims of serious injuries in a car accident will be rushed for treatment immediately after the occurrence. It’s crucial that a loved one goes to the scene to get as much evidence as they can.

They must take pictures and videos of the scene and endeavor to capture witnesses in the background. Important details such as the following must be collected:

● The other driver’s name, address, and cell phone numbers

● Time and location of the wreck

● Name and contact information of witnesses

● Full name and badge number of the investigating police officer

● Any other accessible information like make and model of the vehicle, license plate, towing company’s contact, etc.

Get urgent medical help.

More than anything else, the victim of a serious injury must be given immediate medical attention to help minimize the impact of the accident. Also, seconds can be the difference between life and death in a fatal accident, so it’s essential to call for emergent medical help following the accident.

In some cases, witnesses may be directed to do a few things to contain the situation before help arrives, such as stopping blood loss.


Once the evidence has been gathered, the victim’s family should contact a car accident lawyer for legal representation and to get the financial compensation they deserve. The attorney will protect the rights of the victim and their loved ones and help relieve the financial burden of medical treatments.


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