Victims’ Vital Signs: The Health Burden and Medical Costs of Nonfatal Injuries from Car Accidents

Fifty dollar bills under a "Costs" sign

Surviving a car accident means avoiding the worst possible outcome, but surviving victims of non-fatal accidents carry burdens all the same. Financially, physically, and mentally, even a relatively mild car accident can inflict serious damages which echo across victim’s lives.

Understanding costs

Looking at the bottom line for crashes alone, without considering quality of life, reveals terrifying numbers: 3.9 million non-fatal motor vehicle injuries took place in 2010 alone. With each of those wrecks comes associated healthcare expenses, lost productivity, and property damages. Even in incidents with only the possibility of injury, the expense of the average car accident skyrockets to five figures.

Hidden expenses

Many of these costs aren’t readily apparent. It’s easy to understand the cost of a damaged car on a family dependent upon it for transportation, or the cost of having bones set at the hospital today. However, not every cost arises on the day of the accident. Reduced productivity at work due to a head injury undetected at the time of the accident can ruin a career. Stress from a bad accident can raise blood pressure, induce insomnia, and damage relationships.

Many walk away from their accidents battered but confident in their ability to move on—yet one need only look at its role as the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States to see how a non-fatal car accident can become the precipitating incident in a second disaster. Even a quick check-up at the hospital after a fender-bender can leave the victim of a car accident on the precipice of medical bankruptcy—even if that check-up reveals perfect health. The situation grows much, much worse if there are injuries to resolve.

Facing the expenses of the United States healthcare system can be difficult in and of itself, but adding in the expenses of damaged property, lost productivity, and other sources of distress, it’s crucial to appreciate the severity of any car accident on your health and finances.

Parting thoughts

When someone has been involved in a car accident, it’s important to understand the burdens of that accident in total—not just the immediate results. A non-fatal accident may surely be better than a lethal one, but the impact on a victim’s health, finances, and general well-being can extend years or decades down the line. Speaking with a Chicago auto accident lawyer after an accident can help victims keep their burdens bearable.