Car Accidents and Permanent Disabilities

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | September 8, 2023
Car Accidents and Permanent Disabilities

Injuries in some car accidents may leave recovery sadly out of reach for the victims. If the primary motivation for accident victims with permanent injuries is the prospect of returning to their everyday routines, a permanent disability after a car accident only devastates the victim’s physical and mental state but may also cause a significant financial burden.

After a serious accident that resulted in serious injuries, you may recover compensation. A personal injury claim against the at-fault driver can recover the financial compensation you need to pay for medical bills, cover the cost of damage to your property, and make up for lost income. Consult an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer who will review your case, explain your legal options, and protect your best interests through the process.

What Is a Permanent Disability?

A permanent disability prevents you from mentally or physically performing your normal work duties or engaging in typical daily activities like brushing your teeth or showering.

Paramedics and firefighters respond to a car crash, preparing the stretchers to rescue an injured victim trapped in a rollover vehicle

While permanent disabilities range in degrees of severity, they most often have a life-long impact on the accident victim. For instance, if someone became permanently disabled after an accident, they may still work but struggle with life-long emotional trauma.

Permanent injuries often require extensive medical and therapeutic treatments that create cascading and ongoing expenses. As such, if you suffered injuries in an accident with a negligent driver, seek complete and just compensation. Every case is unique and should be evaluated by a skilled personal injury lawyer who can assess the individual losses you have suffered and calculate the projected losses of your future earnings.

Common Causes of Car Accidents That Result in Permanent Injuries

Car accidents are a common occurrence on busy highways and congested roads, and while all motorists have a duty to obey traffic laws and drive responsibly, when a driver breaches this duty to drive responsibility, a tragic yet preventable car accident can occur.

Heightening your awareness of the most common causes of serious car accidents may prevent a car accident from happening and influence you to drive more cautiously on the road. However, no matter how safely you might drive, you can never control the conduct of other drivers.

Here are some of the most common causes of car collisions that lead to permanent disabilities, so you can watch out for dangerous behavior among other drivers whenever possible.

Distracted driving 

When a driver is switching between tasks on the road, their brain is incapable of focusing on more than one task at a time.

Driving distracted can significantly reduce a person’s reaction time and make it difficult for them to keep their vehicle in its lane. In just a few moments, a distracted driver may travel a great distance without realizing they are about to cause a serious accident. Some common types of distracted driving include talking on the phone, eating while driving, or personal grooming.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol 

Drunk and drugged driving remains a massive ongoing national problem, and victims of car accidents involving an intoxicated driver are more likely to suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries.

Anytime someone drinks or uses drugs and drives, their judgment, vision, and ability to gauge reaction times become seriously impaired. When a motorist is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to tailgate, excessively speed, or engage in reckless driving.


Speeding causes severe crashes. It is not just dangerous on highways, but on neighborhood roads and city streets. When a driver exceeds the speed limit and notices a hazard or obstacle ahead, they may not give themselves time to avoid a crash.

Some top causes of speeding-related accidents include running late to work, trying to keep up with traffic, or unintentionally breaking the speed limit.

Reckless driving 

While driving on the road comes with inherent risks, driving irresponsibly can result in a serious or even fatal accident. Some characteristics of reckless driving include switching lanes too quickly, failing to abide by cautionary measures, and blatantly disregarding the safety of others.

Drivers who let their emotions override their judgment or grow impatient behind the wheel may begin to drive dangerously, putting other road users at risk.

Drowsy or fatigued driving

A driver’s ability to competently respond, react, or discern conditions on the road may become impaired if they are driving while sleepy, drowsy, or downright exhausted.

Drowsy or fatigued driving is especially common during long morning or evening commutes. When a driver is fighting to stay awake at the wheel, they can fail to see a bicyclist, pedestrians on the road, stop sign, or may run a red light and drive into oncoming traffic.

Types of Permanent Disabilities That Can Arise After a Car Accident

A wide range of long-term injuries and permanent disabilities commonly associated with car accidents includes:

  • Paralysis 
  • Damage to the spinal cord 
  • Amputations 
  • Severe burns
  • Loss of hearing, sight, cognitive abilities, or mobility
  • Traumatic brain injury 
  • Damage to the internal organs 
  • Severe scars 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Ongoing psychological trauma 
  • Scarring and disfigurement

In some cases, car accident victims may also suffer permanent partial disabilities. Although these long-term injuries are not as extreme as permanent total disability, they can still affect someone’s life.

A partial disability may allow you to return to work but not with the same job duties or income as before. A personal injury lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need to navigate the legal system and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Living With a Permanent Disability After a Car Accident

A permanent disability can adversely affect all areas of your life, from your daily living to your ability to work. A personal injury after a car accident may take months or years of physical therapy to relearn basic life skills and regain some normalcy.

Not only will you accumulate medical bills and other expenses from the extensive care and lasting treatment you’ll need, but during this time, you will have no way to generate income to pay for your accident-related expenses.

A permanent disability can significantly affect your ability to continue working in the same capacity as before the accident. You may need to take a lower-paying position or never return to work. Additionally, finding a job with proper accommodations is often difficult for people with disabilities.

While no amount of money can even begin to justify losing your ability to provide for yourself, even just temporarily, accident victims who suffered permanent injuries deserve fair compensation.

Compensation for a Permanent Injury or Disability 

A victim of a car accident whose suffered permanent injuries can seek compensation either through a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier or a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.

In cases where serious accidents lead to permanent disabilities, the settlement offered by the insurance company may not be enough to cover all accident-related expenses. In this case, your personal injury lawyer may recommend filing a car accident lawsuit.

Examples of damages you might recover from a personal injury claim include:

  • Medical bills, including all future expected costs 
  • Lost income, including potential future earnings 
  • The cost of modifying a home or vehicle 
  • Emotional pain and suffering 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 
  • Property damage 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Punitive damages 

Medical bills 

In car accident claims, you may seek compensation for all accident-related medical expenses, including the cost of any future treatment.

Expenses such as:

  •  Hospitalization costs
  • Ambulance rides
  • Prescription medication expenses
  • The cost of modifying your home or vehicle 
  • Physical therapy costs
  • The cost of long-term at-home care and nursing expenses

The compensation you recover from an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit can be used to cover these types of expenses. Typically, more serious injuries result in higher medical expenses, and your personal injury lawyer can work with medical experts to help estimate the cost of the future medical costs you might incur.

Lost income 

If your accident-related injuries force you to take time off or a permanent break from work, you may pursue damages for lost earnings. To determine exactly what you’ve lost, your attorney will multiply your daily income by the days you’ve missed work. Your estimates of the potential future income you’ve missed out on may not be as easy to determine. Determining loss of future earnings depends on multiple factors, including your pre-accident earnings and health.

Property damages 

You can seek compensation for damage to your vehicle or other property damaged in the accident. If you incurred transportation expenses when your car was in the auto repair shop, towing charges, vehicle storage costs, or replacement costs for damaged personal property, you can also recover compensation to cover these costs. Additionally, if the accident totaled your car, you can recover compensation for the replacement cost.

Emotional pain and suffering 

After a crash where you’ve sustained a personal injury, you may potentially require mental health care to deal with the pain and trauma you’ve experienced in the aftermath of the accident.

Feelings of emotional distress after an accident can trigger depression, cause anxiety, or cause you to experience other social disorders that take a toll on your mental health.

When a permanent disability damages your mental state, you cannot easily return to work or perform activities you once enjoyed. The potential long-term impact of the injury on your life, along with expert testimony, can help determine the value of your pain and suffering.

Loss of consortium 

In accidents where a permanent disability or injury causes the victim to be unable to live life as they did before, they may seek damages for a loss of consortium.

For example, if a wife suffers a permanent injury that renders her unable to engage in physical intimacy with her husband, she may file a loss of consortium claim. These claims can also include compensation for a general loss of affection or support the victim can no longer provide to their family.

In determining a loss of consortium claim, the court will consider testimony or statements from loved ones, doctors, and other medical specialists.

Punitive damages

The court will only award punitive damages under certain circumstances. These damages punish or penalize the liable party for their malicious or grossly negligent actions and deter others from committing similar acts. The court may consider awarding punitive damages in cases with permanently disabling injuries or if they believe the defendant showed a reckless or intentional disregard for the safety of others.

Despite your inability to work or return to normal daily activities after a car accident where you sustained a permanent injury, securing the compensation you need to support yourself and provide for your medical needs is crucial.

A skilled personal injury lawyer can establish the extent of damage you’ve suffered after a car accident and negotiate with the insurance company to recover a fair settlement on your behalf.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today

MO personal injury attorney AJ Bruning
A.J. Bruning, Car Accident Lawyer

It is easy to lose sight of the future when you’re trying to get through the initial trauma of a serious car accident. Never accept a lowball insurance settlement. Consulting a skilled personal injury lawyer before signing any agreement can prevent you from facing future financial challenges. Contact our office to set up an initial case evaluation and learn how one of our St. Louis personal injury attorneys can assist you with your case.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

Author's Bio

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