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St. Louis Auto Accident Lawyer

Robert J. Albair, P.C., is an established law firm located in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Albair represents clients throughout the Greater St. Louis area in personal injury and legal malpractice matters.

Auto Accident - Chest and Upper Torso

I have represented a number of individuals who have sustained chest area injuries despite usage of the seat belt. Very often the slackness in the seatbelt has allowed the individual to strike his or her chest on the steering wheel. In a recent case involving my client, D.B., the individual truck driver sustained a contusion of the sternum or breastbone. This caused a considerable amount of pain and breathing difficulties which fortunately resolved over a period of many weeks. I have also represented individuals who sustained an injury to the brachial plexus are as a result of the seat belt pressing hard across the left shoulder and left chest area. The brachial plexus is actually a grouping of nerves which come out of the neck and into the front of the shoulder and upper chest. This is the same area which St. Louis Cardinal Pitcher Chris Carpenter complained about and caused his apparent retirement from the game. The compression of those nerves from the seat belt can cause tingling, numbness and pain down the arm and into the hand and fingers.

Auto Accident - Pregnancy Issues

I have represented numerous pregnant women who have been involved in automobile collisions and experienced various types of post-accident complications. Obviously, a direct blow to the abdomen could cause direct injury to the fetus, but even the compression of the seatbelt and shoulder harness can cause these same injuries to the fetus. Very often the woman feels the compression on her abdomen and becomes extremely concerned about the welfare of her baby. It is always advisable to have the fetus check out at the emergency room, particularly if there is any post-accident vaginal discharge. A consultation with an OB GYN may often be indicated. Diagnosis of injuries to the fetus is complicated by virtue of the fact that the woman is not allowed to have any x-rays, MRIs, or CT-Scans taken. If the final diagnosis is simply a sprain, strain or soft tissue injuries to the mother, then the treatment is further limited because most often the physicians do not want the woman to take even over-the-counter pain medications. Sometimes chiropractic treatment is the only reasonable alternative for these types of injuries. Legally, the state of Missouri does recognize a legitimate cause of action for a woman who has concern over the health of her fetus following a collision. Anziety and fear about the ultimate health of the baby at the time of birth is a recoverable item of damages even if the fetus is initially given a clean bill of health at the emergency room following the collision. In a recent case, my client was legitimately fearful about the baby’s development throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and was only able to lose that fear after the baby was born and determined to be fully healthy.

Auto Accident - Face and Head Injuries

I have represented numerous persons who have struck their head or face on the steering wheel or dashboard. Depending on the severity of the crash, these individuals can sustain a whole host of different types of facial injuries ranging from fractured noses, fractured orbit bones around the cheeks and eyes, or broken teeth. This is not unusual for standard automobile collisions. Injuries to the jaw can occur and result in TMJ problems with the jaw joint area behind the ear. These injuries can be chronic and require consultations with oral surgeons, neurologists and pain specialists.

More troubling are individuals who sustain injuries to the head which usually result in concussions. It is well-known that even a bad enough whiplash can cause a concussion as well. Concussions do not necessarily require a loss of consciousness, and very often individuals will claim that they feel extremely stunned or dazed following the crash. The concussions can range in severity from minor to obviously severe, with the resultant post-concussion syndrome also varying in degree. Classically, persons who have had car accidents and sustained concussions will experience headaches, periods of fatigue, lethargy and tiredness; they will have a feeling of mental fogginess or lack of clarity; they can have some difficulty with clarity of thinking and even difficulty with concentration and clarity of speech. Visual disturbances including double vision, blurred vision and spots can also accompany a concussion. I have represented individuals who have also described a ringing in the ears for a period of time. Nausea and even vomiting sometime accompany these concussions as well. Some individuals describe changes in personality and propensity towards anger and loss of patience. Fortunately, most of these symptoms subside over a period of time, but they are of great concern to the individuals who in many cases are also having to deal with other physical injuries following the car crash. Most of the time, standard x-rays or even MRIs or CT-Scans will not show anything. In order to document the injury, there are neurological rests which in some cases will demonstrate some objective indication of some of these post-concussion symptoms, but very often the physician must rely upon the history as given by the patient in order to arrive at the diagnosis of the concussion and post-concussion syndrome. By definition, these concussions are classified as mild traumatic brain injuries.

Auto Accident - Leg, Knee and Feet Injuries

Obviously, severe auto accidents can cause fractures to the legs from intrusion of the other vehicle into the passenger compartment of the claimant’s car. Additionally, it is well-known that many individuals sustain knee injuries in auto accidents. These knee injuries can occur from striking one’s knee on the dashboard. In a recent case involving client D.B., a rear-end impact pushed his knee into the dashboard and resulted in bruising of the cartilage underneath the kneecap. This sometimes is called a blister of the patellar medial facet cartilage. The individual suffered post-accident symptoms including pain and a grinding sensation, or crepitus whenever he went up and down stairs or did any squatting. This became a chronic problem. Interestingly, these symptoms are specially true with women. Usually these knee injuries require an MRI in order to show what is damaged, and if it is bad enough, then a full-blown operation or an orthoscopic surgery would be needed in order to cut out the damaged area and perform the necessary repairs. I have also had clients who have had car accidents where they were hit from the side and they sustained damage to the meniscus which are small cushions inside the knee. If the individual sustains an impact from the front side which is hard enough to cause the bones to hit each other in a very quick fashion, this can sometimes cause breaks in the bone or also cause damage to the meniscus. I also have clients who have sustained injury to the medial plica in the knee as a result of car accidents. In a recent case involving a violent impact, the driver sustained a tear of the ACL and the lateral and medial meniscus in her knee. These generally will not show up on a standard x-ray and usually require an MRI in order to see the injuries. This particular individual, L.W., will require extensive knee surgery and a probable joint replacement in order to correct these injuries. She will develop arthritis in the joint as she gets older, despite an surgical repair.

Car accidents also cause injuries to the feet as I have seen in two recent cases. In one case, the driver sustained a dislocation of the forefront from the mid-foot. This is called a Lis Franc fracture/dislocation of the small bones in the foot. This was caused by the driver apparently hitting the brake pedal extremely hard. This injury required the placement of screws in the foot in order to properly align those sections of the foot. Despite the surgery, the individual will likely develop serious arthritis as she gets older. In another recent case involving D.R., a side impact caused the driver to violently slide his foot off the brake pedal. This caused a small fracture on the top of the foot near the point where the ankle joins the leg. This was diagnosed by MRI as an anterior lateral OCD lesion, which stands for an osteochondral dissecans injury. This was extremely painful and caused the individual to limp for a long period of time despite physical therapy, anti-inflammatories and other conservative treatment. Eventually, he was required to undergo an orthoscopic surgery in order to remove the damaged tissue from inside his foot.

Auto Accident - Hand, Finger and Wrist Injuries

I have also represented many clients who have had injured their hands, fingers and wrists in car accidents. This can obviously occur from hitting the hand on the dashboard or steering wheel, as occurred with a recent client J.B., who broke two fingers in the collision. This can also occur when the airbag deploys and the individual instinctively puts up his or her hand in front of their face in order to protect the face and torso. The airbags deploy at a tremendous speed and can cause these types of fractures. Another recent client, J.B., sustained a tear of tendons in her wrist as a result of a blunt force trauma to the wrist. She apparently struck her wrist on the steering wheel as a result of the impact. This caused pain and tingling in her hand and it eventually was diagnosed with an MRI. This individual needed surgery and will likely develop arthritis in her wrist. Another recent client, R.R., sustained tendon tears in the wrist from merely gripping the steering wheel very tightly and being involved in a violent rear-end repetitive motion type activities. Trauma, however, can cause the carpal tunnel injury in the circumstances described above.

Auto Accident - Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrians are no match for a steel automobile, and the pedestrian always comes out as the loser in such confrontations. I have handled many pedestrian collision cases which have involved the obvious severity of injury of broken bones typically to the legs and hips. Individuals are also thrown as a result of the impact, and in one case, the individual ended up with a broken shoulder from hitting the pavement. In one interesting case involving D.B., a vehicle ran over his foot and caused an injury to the Achilles tendon in the back of the ankle. He ended up with some nerve damage which plagued him for several years after the collision. In another serious pedestrian case involving a drunk driver, a police officer sustained an injury to his head whereby his scalp was essentially removed and made it appear as though he had been “scalped”. Serious head injuries are obviously the result of many of these unfortunate crashes and certainly individuals are killed as well.

Auto Accidents - Shoulder Injuries

Car accidents produce many different types of shoulder injuries. In my practice, I have experienced many of these situations in all kinds of collisions involving rear-end accidents, frontal impacts and side impacts. Obviously, injuries are much more frequent when persons do not wear a seatbelt, as I experienced in a recent case where a rear seat passenger in a pickup flew forward and hit his shoulder on the front console through the opening between the two front seats. This individual suffered a fractured clavicle or collarbone. However, even seatbelt usage will not prevent shoulder injuries. In a recent case, M.M. hit the steering wheel and suffered a fractured collarbone as well. Rotator cuff injuries are not unusual and they can occur from having a strong grip on the steering wheel and feeling a severe jolt that causes injury to the shoulder joing area. Another injury which occurs in car accidents is a torn labrum, which again can occur from a jolt while holding the steering wheel. In the case of A.G., my client hit her left shoulder on the driver’s side window and door frame and sustained a rotator cuff injury. Another related injury is a shoulder impingement which can occur from this type of blow on the side window or door frame. Essentially, the rotator cuff tendon gets pinched and causes pain and limited movement with overhead lifting. Another recent case involved an acromioclavicular separation which can involve tearing of several different ligaments without an actual tear. This again can occur from a violent impact with some part of the interior of the car. Most of these shoulder-related injuries involving the muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as some of the fractures can only be seen from an MRI. A standard x-ray can of course pick up most fractures of bones, although the soft tissue structures normally do not show up on a standard x-ray film. If the anatomy is disrupted by virtue of a torn tendon or ligament, then a stand x-ray might also show that as well.

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