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What Distinguishes Major Injuries From Minor Injuries?

Apr 12, 2023

Is the injury you sustained in that auto accident, workplace accident, or in any other event a major injury or a minor injury? Your answer to this question can help you understand what it may take to prove your personal injury claim, how complex the process may be, and the amount of compensation you can receive as damages.


Major Injuries Versus Minor Injuries: How To Tell the Difference

What distinguishes major injuries from minor injuries? There are two broad distinctions between minor and major injuries:

Severity of Injury

One of the fundamental differences between a minor and a major injury is the impact of the injury on your life. Major injuries usually cause short-term disability, permanently diminished quality of life, or even death. Injuries that lead to amputation, disfigurement, paralysis, loss of consciousness, severe bleeding, compound fractures, severe burn cases, and head or eye wounds are common types of major injuries. 

In extreme cases, some major injuries may also be categorized as catastrophic injuries. Physical activity like sports activities may cause chronic injuries that develop over time or immediate acute injuries.

Minor injuries might be painful, but they don’t have any long-term effect or cause any temporal or permanent disability. Also, they don’t pose any danger to your life or reduce the quality of your life. 

Examples of minor injuries are:

  • Scrapes
  • Mild burns
  • Shallow cuts
  • Sprains and strains
  • Bruises

Medical Treatment Requirements

Another point in a minor vs major injury comparison is they require different degrees of medical treatment. Major injuries may demand you go to the nearest hospital emergency room without delay, especially injuries that involve symptoms such as uncontrollable bleeding, severe swelling, shock, and cardiovascular issues. Because the complications are often life-threatening, you need immediate medical care to manage the complications.

Treating major injuries may also require a surgical procedure(s) and hospitalization for days, weeks, or even months. In some cases, the injured person may need physical and occupational therapy. 

You can treat minor injuries that involve only moderate pain, minimal swelling, limited motion, or other mild symptoms by visiting an urgent care clinic. Sometimes, you can treat minor workplace injuries like bruises and paper cuts at home with over-the-counter medication and rest.

When Does a Minor Injury Become a Major Injury?

Sometimes, minor injuries present tricky situations. An injury may initially appear minor, but it may become critical when it’s left untreated. An example is an infection that develops in a wound from a cut.

At other times, a major injury may masquerade as a minor injury. An example is a person who was involved in a motor vehicle collision and suffered an impact to the abdomen. You may only see a slight bruise on the surface. However, the bruise may be a sign of internal bleeding or damage to an internal organ. Serious, life-threatening complications can result if this person does not visit a hospital and receive appropriate care.

If you were involved in an accident and sustained seemingly minor injuries, it’s advisable to visit a doctor, especially, when you’re unsure of the full extent of the injuries. That slight pain, weakness, numbness, or vomiting may indicate something more alarming.

How Type of Injury Can Affect Your Legal Claim After an Accident

Understanding the distinction between major and minor injuries is important in estimating the compensation you may recover as damages in the following aspects:

Compensation for Medical Bills

Generally, you can recover compensation for your medical bills if you prove your personal injury claim. If your injury was major, your medical bills will probably be high. 

If your injuries are minor, the compensation you can recover as the cost of the medical bill may not be worth the hassle of pursuing the claim. Sometimes, the amount is too insignificant to warrant a trial

Major injuries, on the other hand, often involve hefty medical bills and even future medical bills, which makes it necessary to pursue a personal injury claim.

Insurance companies are also more willing to settle your medical bill quickly if it’s a minor injury. This is because the amount of money involved is usually small, and paying you off will bar you from claiming more amount from them if more complications develop later.

Income Loss if Unable To Work

If you missed days of work because of your injuries, you can recover the lost income. Major injuries most times involve loss of income because you need time to heal from the injuries. 

You may also recover loss of future income if you’re yet to resume work because you’re still on the mend, or if the injury has made you unable to work permanently.

However, minor injuries usually involve minimal or no loss of income. 

Compensatory Damages for Pain and Suffering or Emotional Distress

Damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress are intended to compensate you for the emotional pain and suffering you endured because of the injuries. It’s not enough to show you suffered physical pain. You must show how the injury impacted your life negatively. 

This may be relatively easy to prove in major and catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries. For example, it will be easier to prove you experienced pain and suffering and emotional distress in a traumatic brain injury than from an ankle sprain.

Generally, the more severe your physical injury, the more damages you can recover for pain and suffering. Also, it may be more difficult to prove pain and suffering and emotional distress in minor injuries. 

Receive Clarity After an Accident With the Help of a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney

The days and weeks after an injury can be overwhelming. You may be trying to understand the level of your injuries and their impact on your life and future. Insurance companies may also be on your neck, trying to get you to fill out paperwork and sign documents. A personal injury lawyer can help you.

Your priority after an injury, especially a devastating injury, is to get medical help and focus on your health. But it may be hard to do so when medical bills are skyrocketing, and your future welfare looks bleak. 

The experienced personal injury lawyers at The Spence Law Firm can take the burden off you so you can focus on recovery. We will give you an evaluation of your injuries and the compensation you can recover. Contact us today to gain more insight into your case.

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If you are struggling with a serious injury, or are fighting against seemingly impossible odds against big corporations, insurance companies or the government, call us to speak with our team of trial lawyers who will fight for you. We take no fee unless we earn it by winning your case.