Steering Wheel Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents can result in different types of injuries. Some of the most common injuries suffered by car accident victims are steering wheel injuries. As their name implies, these injuries occur when the driver's body hits the steering wheel or column, resulting in trauma. Injuries that occur as a result of the head, chest, or other body parts striking the steering wheel can be severe and life-changing. Some of these injuries may even lead to permanent impairments or result in death. If a driver has been in a car crash in which the steering wheel caused or contributed to injuries, he or she should consider contacting an experienced car accident attorney to determine if there are any compensation options available to them. At Labrum Law, our team of skilled personal injury attorneys can review each individual case and explain the injured driver's options for recovery. Consider calling (615) 338-9500 to schedule a free consultation.
Head-Related Steering Wheel Injuries
When motor vehicle accidents occur, a driver may strike his or her head against the steering wheel. Depending on how hard a driver's head hits, the driver may suffer head trauma. There are various types of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and head injuries that can result from hitting the head against a steering wheel. Common types of head-related steering wheel injuries include:
- Concussion—A motorist may suffer a concussion when his or her head strikes against the steering wheel in a car accident. However, a concussion may also occur without a direct blow to the head, as it may be the result of the brain hitting against the rigid walls of the skull.
- Contusion—This type of head trauma refers to bruising to the brain itself, which usually occurs after a direct and strong blow to the head. In motor vehicle accidents, the steering wheel is a common cause of brain contusion.
- Skull fracture—While the human skull is a strong bone, a hard impact can result in fractures. In particular, a driver involved in a car crash may suffer a skull fracture when his or her head strikes the steering wheel.
Head-related steering wheel injuries may not manifest symptoms right away. All drivers and other persons involved in a car accident should, therefore, seek immediate medical attention, even if they think they were not injured.
Other Types of Steering Wheel Injuries
The head is not the only body part that could be damaged as a result of impact from the steering wheel. Other types of injuries that can result from hitting the steering wheel in a car crash include but are not limited to:
- Broken ribs
- Collapsed lung
- Thoracic injuries
- Hand and wrist injuries
Often, car accident victims will hit their chest against the steering wheel, which exposes their ribs to the risk of damage. If the impact is very strong, a driver might suffer broken ribs as a result of blunt trauma. A broken rib could also puncture the lungs.
Another common type of steering wheel injury is a collapsed lung, which is also known as traumatic pneumothorax. A driver may suffer a collapsed lung due to direct trauma to the chest.
Thoracic injuries are blunt or penetrating injuries to the chest. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, motor vehicle accidents account for up to 80 percent of all thoracic injuries. This type of injury is commonly referred to as the “steering wheel injury” because it often occurs when the chest strikes the steering wheel.
Hand and Wrist Injuries
When drivers anticipate a collision, in the brief moment leading up to the accident, their first instinct is usually to tighten their grip on the steering wheel. However, this sort of bracing for impact can result in hand and wrist injuries because the driver's hands and wrists will absorb the energy of the collision, causing broken bones or damage to soft tissues.
These are not the only steering wheel injuries car accident victims may suffer when involved in a crash. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, a victim may require life-long treatment or surgery, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in medical bills. The compassionate attorneys at Labrum Law can help sort out the details of a claim.
How to Prevent Steering Wheel Injuries
Motorists can take steps to prevent or reduce the severity of a possible steering wheel injury. Many steering wheel injuries occur because the driver sits too close to the wheel. In all modern vehicles, drivers can adjust the steering wheel and seat to put more distance between the driver's chest and the steering wheel.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a motorist should be seated with the chest at least ten inches away from the steering wheel's center to prevent or minimize injuries resulting from airbag deployment and hitting the steering wheel. If the driver sits too close to the steering wheel, the airbag may still be in the process of deploying when it hits the driver, decreasing the effectiveness of the airbag.
Seeking Compensation for a Steering Wheel Injury
When a driver suffers injuries from hitting the steering wheel with his or her head, chest, stomach, or other body part, the driver should seek immediate medical care to diagnose the injury and begin treatment right away. Early medical intervention is critical to the driver's ability to recover. Getting medical care as soon as possible can also protect the driver's legal right to compensation. A delay in seeking medical attention could make proving the origin of the injury more difficult when filing a personal injury claim. The insurance company could argue that the injury was not the result of the accident without medical records to prove otherwise.
If a driver suffered an injury from the impact of the steering wheel in a car accident, that driver might be entitled to compensation for his or her medical expenses, loss of income, pain, suffering, and other monetary and non-monetary losses. If your car crash resulted in steering wheel injuries, consider calling (615) 338-9500 to speak with the knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Labrum Law. We help victims of motor vehicle accidents pursue the compensation to which they are entitled.