You may not be able to see a soft tissue injury, but that does not mean you should ignore pain, discomfort, and other symptoms. The harm from an injury of soft tissue can be just as severe as harm from more obvious injuries and impact your life for years if not treated promptly.
Soft tissue injuries resulting from personal injury accidents are just as serious as other injuries, but it can be more challenging to obtain compensation for this sort of harm. We will investigate why this is so and what steps you can take to increase your chances of getting compensation.
What Is a Soft Tissue Injury?
What is a soft tissue injury, and what makes it different from other injuries? Soft tissue injuries include sprains and strains of muscles, tendons, ligaments, fat, and other similar tissue throughout your body. These injuries are not always easy to detect and diagnose because they do not show up easily on imaging like X-rays and MRIs.
Even though they are less obvious than broken bones, they can cause significant pain in your joints and throughout your body.
What Are the Common Types of Soft Tissue Injuries?
The human body contains many soft tissues, especially in the neck and back. Soft tissue injuries from a car accident are particularly likely to cause neck and back injuries. Six main categories of car accident-related soft tissue injuries are described below.
— Soft Tissue Sprains
A sprained ankle is one type of soft tissue injury that most people have experienced at some point or another. A sprain is simply a stretched or torn ligament anywhere in the body (ligaments connect your bones). You will need an X-ray to rule out bone fractures. Beyond that, your doctor can examine the affected area.
— Soft Tissue Strains
A soft tissue strain is a stretched or torn tendon. Tendons connect your muscles to one another, and they connect your muscles to your bones. Doctors diagnose strains the same way that they diagnose sprains.
— Contusions from Car Wrecks
“Contusion” is a medical word meaning “bruise.” It is not difficult to see why car accidents often cause contusions. A contusion occurs when your body strikes an object hard enough to rupture your capillaries (tiny blood vessels) and cause internal bleeding. Contusions usually disappear on their own, given time.
Whiplash injuries are a particularly common result of soft tissue damage from a car accident. Whiplash is so named because it occurs when your head snaps forward like a whip. Whiplash can cause both physical pain and cognitive issues.
— Herniated Disc
A herniated disc is a spine injury. Although the discs in your spine absorb shock, a car accident can knock one or more of them out of place. This allows your vertebrae to rub against each other, or pinch a nerve, thereby causing pain. A herniated disc is often accompanied by a whiplash injury.
Lacerations are cuts and gashes in the skin. These injuries are particularly common consequences of car accidents, because of shattered glass and other sharp objects that may collide with your skin at high speed. Seek medical attention immediately, because you may have internal injuries that you don't know about.
Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms
A soft tissue injury after a car accident produces identifiable symptoms—pain, for example. Symptoms might be delayed for hours or even days after an accident. Common symptoms include:
- A stiff neck
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Back pain
- A sharp neck pain
- Joint pain occurs whenever you put weight on it
Soft tissue damage in a car accident can be difficult to prove. Seek medical treatment immediately to make it more difficult for the defendant to assert that the accident is not what caused your symptoms.
Possible Causes of Soft Tissue Injury
Can soft tissue injury only be caused by car accidents? No, there are many possible causes of soft tissue injury. Bruising, strains, and sprains can occur after nearly any personal injury accident, including:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck and commercial vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and falls or trip and falls
- Dog bites and dog attacks
- Uber and Lyft rideshare accidents
Bruising is a common soft tissue injury sign. However, in some cases, pain is the only sign of damage.
Complications of a Soft Tissue Injury
A soft tissue injury can lead to complications if you do not get treatment. These soft tissue injury complications might include:
- Nerve pain and damage
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to blood vessels, which can impact blood circulation
- Compartment syndrome, which happens when there is bleeding or swelling within an enclosed space within muscles
Some of these complications of soft tissue injury can even be permanent.
Can Soft Tissue Damage Be Permanent?
Can soft tissue injuries be permanent? Yes. Although uncommon, they can cause permanent damage and lasting effects. The risk of permanent harm rises if you are involved in a severe accident but fail to get medical assistance and treatment quickly.
Delays in getting appropriate treatment may also happen if your doctor doubts your reports of pain and refuses to investigate the cause. Since soft tissue injuries are often invisible to imaging technology like X-rays and MRIs, some medical professionals may question whether you truly need the assistance you actually need.
Signs Your Injury May Be Severe
Signs of complications of soft tissue injury and severe soft tissue injuries include:
- An injury site that looks or feels abnormal
- Scarring that does not heal or does not heal normally
- Tingling or numbness at the injury site, which can indicate nerve damage
- Inability to use muscles around the injury site
- Sounds of cracking or popping at the injury site
- Severe, unrelenting pain
If you have any of these symptoms, you must get help from a qualified medical provider.
Proving Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue car accident settlement amounts vary dramatically. One of the major issues, of course, is whether you have enough direct medical evidence to prove your claim in court. Some soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, are harder to prove than other injuries such as contusions and herniated discs. Your complaints of pain might be the most direct medical evidence you have.
At the very least, you or your lawyer should gather the following types of evidence:
- Photographs of the scene of the accident;
- Photographs of your injuries;
- The results of medical testing (CT scans, etc.), if anything shows upon them;
- Your medical records;
- Your "pain journal" in which you keep notes about your injuries, your recovery period, and concerns like pain, depression, or anxiety
- Employment records to help you prove the lost earnings component of compensation.
One word of caution–stay off social media while your case is pending.
Soft tissue injuries can be excruciatingly painful, and soft tissue injury claims can be difficult to prove. Don't worry, because the Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyers at Stracci Law Group apply the benefits of over eight decades of combined trial experience, a track record of large settlements, and thousands of satisfied clients to bring you justice by maximizing the value of your claim.
Our lawyers are not out-of-state transplants. We have practiced in Indiana for our entire careers. We know the local court systems, we know all the players, and we know how the Indiana system works. Call Stracci Law Group today. We serve clients in Gary, Crown Point, Hammond, Merrillville, Portage, Valparaiso, and elsewhere in Northwest Indiana.
Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
How long does a soft tissue injury take to heal? The answer depends greatly on the severity of the injury. The more serious the accident and severe your injuries, the longer it will take to recover and the more intensive the treatment that may be necessary.
Some examples of treatment for common soft tissue injuries include:
- Getting plenty of rest and allowing your body to heal naturally
- Elevating the affected area to reduce swelling
- Applying ice or cold compresses
- Using bandages or braces to immobilize the affected area
- Participating in rehabilitative therapy
In cases of severe soft tissue damage, you may also need surgery to reach maximum physical recovery.
How to Recover from Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue recovery time depends on the injury’s severity. Three grades of soft tissue injury are used to describe how serious an injury is.
A Grade 1 soft tissue injury is not severe and generally does not require much, if any, medical intervention to heal. Resting the injured area, applying ice or cold compresses to reduce swelling, and managing pain with over-the-counter medications may be all that is necessary.
These injuries will usually fully heal within a few days to a few weeks.
Grade 2 soft tissue injuries are more serious and affect more of the tissue than Grade 1 injuries. Therefore, you can expect that it will take longer for these injuries to heal. You may also need more extensive medical treatment than simple home remedies.
You may require multiple cortisone injections into the affected tissue and physical rehabilitative therapy to fully recover. Recovery can take several months.
The most severe soft tissue injury, a Grade 3 injury, can result in permanent damage. Even when damage is not permanent, you may lose full use of the affected area for a considerable amount of time.
With a Grade 3 soft tissue injury, the entire muscle or tissue is affected. You may need to continue treatment for months or years. Surgery may also be necessary to correct the damage done to the tissue.
Average Soft Tissue Injury Insurance Settlement
It is difficult — but not impossible — to succeed with soft tissue injury insurance claims. How much do soft tissue injury settle with insurance? The amount depends on your economic and non-economic losses and the strength of your evidence. Your soft tissue injury insurance settlement could also depend on the quality and tenacity of your legal representation.
To get a fair settlement offer from an insurance company, you need the insurer to understand your specific situation. Soft tissue injuries will affect people differently, even if the injuries are of the same grade.
The average settlement for soft tissue injury car accident claims can be between $10,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on the facts of your case. Damaging your wrists and ankles will likely result in a lower settlement amount. Similarly, soft tissue back injury settlement amounts or settlements for soft tissue injury to the neck tend to be on the lower end of the scale.
Getting Fair Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries
With the right legal partner on your side, you can pursue compensation for soft tissue injuries. Reach out to the team at Stracci Law Group to learn more or to schedule a free case evaluation.