Article Updated: March 2, 2022
Settlements & Strategy
Your eyes are an essential part of your daily life and without them, everyday tasks are that much harder for you. Sadly, your eyes can be easily injured in a number of ways in a car accident.
If you were in a vehicle accident and are having eye symptoms, you will benefit from learning the following in this article:
♦ Eye Injury Frequency & It’s Relation to Settlements
♦ Causation Related to Eye Injuries in Accidents
♦ Common Car Accident Eye Injuries
♦ Evaluation of Eye Injury Severity
♦ Settlement Prospects Eye Injuries
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Table of Contents
Different Eye Injuries
(a) – Orbital Fractures
(b) – Orbital Ruptures
(f) – Eye Laceration
Eye Injury Settlement Basics
6 – Eye Injury Q&A
9 – About the Author
Common Car Accident Eye Injuries
While a number of eye injuries can occur in a car accident from flying debris or the airbag, some are more common than others, and those are discussed below.
When you have a deep and strong impact hit your face, be it with an airbag or with impact on glass in your car, you are receiving blunt force trauma that can break bones in your face.
This is known as an orbital bone fracture when the broken bone is the one that houses your eye, known as the orbital bone. This can be a deeply painful and also highly dangerous injury because of the proximity of this bone to the brain.
SAMPLE VERDICT: $0.00. A pedestrian was doing gardening work. She claimed a vehicle drove by her in a reckless manner and its side view mirror struck her face, then drove away without stopping. She suffered an orbital fracture and skull fracture. The jury did not believe the plaintiff’s story about the phantom vehicle, which is why the result is $0. You may read this and think, “this sample verdict does not help me understand the value of my case, because I was in a rear-end accident and there’s no denying that.” That is not true. What this case illustrates is that juries are unpredictable. If you go to trial, you should only do that if you are prepared to accept the risk of a $0 verdict, no matter how good your case is.
SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $50,000. The plaintiff was a minor passenger in a vehicle driven by the defendant. The defendant lost control of the car and ran into a light pole. The plaintiff suffered an orbital fracture, and other face fractures which required surgery. The claimed medical bills were approximately $15k, though I cannot understand how all this medical treatment, including a surgery, was done for that price. The low settlement amount, however, I can understand, as it represented 100% of the available insurance in the case. In other words, this case was worth more but there wasn’t any more insurance money to cover the injuries.
SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $2,000,000. This is a wrongful death case brought by the family of the plaintiff, and a personal injury case brought by two other plaintiffs. The defendant cut off the plaintiffs’ vehicle, causing it to serve out of control and roll over. One of the living plaintiffs suffered an orbital fracture, spinal fracture, and other injuries. She was tossed 70 feet from the vehicle, so she is narrowly dodged death, unlike one of her companion occupants in that same car. This was a policy limits case, and the available information does not parse out how much of the $2 million was for the plaintiff with the orbital fracture.
The same impact that can break your orbital bone can be strong enough to rupture your whole eye.
This happens when the pressure is too hard and leads to intense damage that is not always able to be repaired. Such an injury can lead to losing the eye completely or losing whole or partial vision in the eye impacted.
Relationship Between Brain Damage & Eye Symptoms
A traumatic brain injury happens when there is deep impact on the head which can lead to many problems including blurred vision after car accidents.
The interconnected nature of the eyes to the brain means that when the brain is damaged in an accident, it can lead to serious eye problems.
This can include blindness caused by car accidents as well as other symptoms of eye damage from car accidents such as:
♦ Double Vision
♦ Blurred Vision
Retinal Detachments and Tears
Another painful eye problem after car accidents can be retinal detachment and tears due to the trauma and force the eyes face in a car accident.
This happens when there is impact strong enough to actually tear the cornea or cause the nerves that connect the eye to the brain to detach causing in essence the nerves and parts of the eyes to have morbidity in the eyes.
SAMPLE SETTLEMENT: $70,000. In this New Jersey accident case, the plaintiff’s car was t-boned by a truck that failed to yield the right of way and pulled out onto the main road into the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff suffered retinal holes and detachment, but all his injuries healed well with no discussion of permanent, residual symptoms. The defense argued that the young-20’s plaintiff was healthy and healed well.
Posterior Vitreous Detachment
Posterior vitreous detachment can happen naturally in adults as they get older. It can cause problems with the eyes such as eye floaters and flashes of light in the eyes.
A car accident can cause detachment of sensitive parts of the eye and can therefore cause the vitreous gel that fills the eye to separate from the retina and create the onset of Posterior vitreous detachment, making it a direct eye injury after a car accident.
Posterior vitreous detachment due to a car accident can cause settlement problems for you because symptoms like eye floaters after a car accident will be disputed by your insurance company, and presents a complicated medical causation issue.
Because of this, you should speak with an attorney to help you settle this type of injury, as expert witnesses and literature research will likely be necessary before the insurance company will make a reasonable offer.
SAMPLE VERDICT: $25,000. This was a rear-end accident case which injured a passenger in the back seat of the plaintiff-vehicle. The plaintiff suffered vitreous detachment in both eyes, resulting in eye floaters and vision issues. The defendant admitted to causing the accident, but disputed the medical issues. This is pretty common – do not think you have a strong case just because the question of who caused the accident is a no-brainer. The defendant can abandon that battle ground and instead fight you on the field of medical causation, nit-picking at the medical issues and medical science related to your case. Be ready for this, or at least hire an attorney who is.
Your eye could be lacerated in an accident if any glass breaks and scratches your eye. This can cause future medical issues, as evidenced by the sample case below.
SETTLEMENT EXAMPLE: $50,000. In this car accident, the passenger side window shattered and glass from that window struck the plaintiff in the eye. It caused a corneoscleral laceration in his right eye. Although that initial injury healed, it left the plaintiff with increased risk for the development of a cataract, glaucoma, and possible retinal detachment. This was a costly, multi-expert case, due to the unique medical causation issues it presented from non-traditional experts. Your attorney should ALWAYS take these 100-yard factors into consideration when deciding which path will net you the most in your case. Accepting $30,000 today may net you more than accepting $50,000 one year from now, after you’ve paid expert witnesses $20,000 to prove your case.
Causes of Eye Damage From Car Accident
Your eyes are vulnerable to debris, airbags, impact to the head and eyes and a variety of other risk of injury, some of which are outlined below.
The airbag is often believed to be a life-saving item that causes no harm. While the airbag does indeed save lives, it can also cause serious bodily injury.
The airbag will hit an individual’s face during a car accident at a high speed with a great deal of pressure and this can lead to serious injuries.
When there is an accident, debris may fly around the interior of your vehicle from broken glass.
There is also the potential for debris from outside your car to hit you.
This can cause objects to penetrate your eyes and cause short and long-term damage like tears, fractures, and ruptures.
The impact that the airbag can have, is not the only impact you can have in an accident. During the course of a car accident, it is possible to hit your head on the steering wheel, on the side windows and also have airbag impact all of which can cause damage to the eyes. Any number of these can cause there to be serious eye problems after a car accident which will need medical help.
Eye Injury Concern Indicators
Injury Severity Varies Unpredictably
Eye injuries can be very serious and need to be treated as such.
In some cases, an eye injury can be mild and not cause serious long-term problems. In other cases, the opposite can be true.
In any case, after a car accident, you need medical attention no matter what. If you have blurred vision after a car accident it is a clear sign that you need help.
However, not all eye damage from a car accident will be obvious right away and it is best to have a medical professional look at your eyes to assess the severity of your situation.
Symptoms to Look Out For
While it is preferable that you see a medical professional right away, there are signs you should keep an eye out for so you know if your situation is getting worse or requires an immediate ER visit:
♦ Blurred vision after an accident
♦ Seeing double of things
♦ Not being able to focus your vision on a specific subject
♦ Seeing blood in your eyes
♦ Inability to see colors as clearly or normally as before
Get Medical Attention
Medical attention is needed in nearly all cases of eye problems after a car accident.
Whether you have blurry vision after being rear-ended, or seeing double after an accident, it is best to allow a doctor to assess you.
Remember, some injuries like a retinal tear after a car accident are not always felt right away but can lead to long-term damage to your eyes that cannot be reversed if you do not get proper and timely medical treatment.
Can My Eye Injury be Permanent?
Eye injuries can be permanent. Some treatments can help symptoms but some symptoms can linger indefinitely. other eye injury symptoms and their root cause may not have any possible treatment to reverse the damage done to your eyes.
Eye damage from a car accident can cause the following permanent symptoms:
♦ Depth perception will be skewed
♦ Focusing on objects will become difficult
♦ Tracking an object will be harder if not impossible
♦ Clarity of images will be skewed
♦ Peripheral vision can be lost
♦ increased sensitivity to Light
♦ Blindness or Partial Vision Loss
♦ Loss of an eye
This is not an exhaustive list. Different symptoms and resulting eye injuries can have different settlement values, discussed below.
Maximizing Your Eye Injury Settlement
What to Do
You should take a few steps to help ensure the best eye injury settlement for your car accident.
♦ Get medical help to assess your eyes and make sure that all damages and injuries are identified and placed in your medical records.
♦ Follow all of your doctors advice, treatment and therapy and keep track of all of your appointments as well as the bills that you receive and pay over time.
♦ With the help of a lawyer, document how your daily life activities have changed because of the eye injury. DO NOT DO THIS WITHOUT SPEAKING WITH A LAWYER. I have been in the unfortunate position explaining to a client why his case will settle for less because of what he wrote in his injury journal before he hired me. You don’t know what you don’t know, and this is a prime example of how you trying to perform surgery on your own case can botch that surgery in an irreversible way.
Car Accident Eye Injury Settlement Values
Eye Injury Q&A
Can my eyes get damaged in a car accident?
Yes, because of your air bag, the windshield, flying debris and glass, you can have many different kinds of injuries to your eyes in an accident.
What kinds of injuries can my eye have?
Your eye can have lacerations, orbital fractures, retinal detachment, partial blindness and neuropathy as well as many other possibilities.
Will my eye damage be permanent?
Sadly, not all treatments are able to restore your eye heath to pre-accident levels after an accident and some eye injuries can become permanent and also accelerate over time.
Can I recover damages for my eye injury?
Yes, with the right representation, you can get a settlement that helps you to recover the cost of your medical treatments as well as pain and suffering damages as well for any eye damage suffered from a car accident.
How do I know if my eye injury is serious?
The best way to determine if your eye injury is serious is to seek out medical help as soon as you can after your accident. Do not lose time and guess the severity of your injuries on your own! The eyes are a sensitive part of the body and the best way to treat them is to seek medical help as soon as you can. Not all the injuries to your eyes will be known to you right away and some can take time to develop.
How do I prove the car accident caused my eye injury?
The best way to prove your eye injury was caused by your car accident is to have the treatment of a medical professional and to have all stages of your care be tracked and recorded to show your injuries and their trajectory.
Is it possible to lose my eye in a car accident?
Yes, it is possible to lose your eye in a car accident, because a car accident can cause ruptures or tears to your eyes.
Have people gone blind because of a car accident?
Some people in car accidents have gone blind or have lost partial vision in their eyes even with major surgery to try and save their vision post-accident.
Can medical treatment save my eyes and vision after an accident?
Yes, sometimes, medical treatment can save your injured eye or lost vision after an accident. Not all surgeries are 100% successful in helping to save the eyes or to help restore lost vision or blurred vision. While there are many possible treatments, they are not always able to work for all cases.
How much can I expect to get for my eye injury settlement case?
How much you get for your eye injury settlement will will depend on many factors such as the circumstances around your case as well as the severity of your injuries as well. That said, these are serious injuries and will usually settle for well past $100,000 so long as your lawyer and the expert witness your lawyer uses can definitively overcome any causation issues.
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Settling Your Car Accident Eye Injury Claim
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Supporting Citations, Literature & Resources:
Biechl-Lautenbach, K. S., Gloor, B., & Walz, F. (1996). Severe perforating eye injury caused by an air bag in a traffic skid accident. Klinische Monatsblatter fur Augenheilkunde, 208(3), 196-200.
Das, S., Bhuyan, D., & Addya, S. (2017). Ocular morbidity following road traffic acccidents: a retrospective analysis. International journal of community medicine and public health (Gujarat), 4(4), 968-972.
Duma, S. M., Jernigan, M. V., Stitzel, J. D., Herring, I. P., Crowley, J. S., Brozoski, F. T., & Bass, C. R. (2002). The effect of frontal air bags on eye injury patterns in automobile crashes. Archives of ophthalmology, 120(11), 1517-1522.
Kuhn, F., Collins, P., Morris, R., & Witherspoon, C. D. (1994). Epidemiology of motor vehicle crash-related serious eye injuries. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 26(3), 385-390.
Lee, W. B., O’Halloran, H. S., Pearson, P. A., Sen, H. A., & Reddy, S. H. (2001). Airbags and bilateral eye injury: five case reports and a review of the literature. The Journal of emergency medicine, 20(2), 129-134.
McGwin, G., & Owsley, C. (2005). Risk Factors for Motor Vehicle Collision–Related Eye Injuries. Archives of Ophthalmology, 123(1), 89-95.
Johnson, M. W. (2010). Posterior vitreous detachment: evolution and complications of its early stages. American journal of ophthalmology, 149(3), 371-382.
Okamoto, Y., Morikawa, S., Okamoto, F., Mitamura, Y., Ishikawa, H., Ueda, T., … & Oshika, T. (2019). TRAFFIC ACCIDENT–RELATED OPEN GLOBE INJURIES. Retina, 39(4), 779-785.
Michalewska, Z., Michalewski, J., Nawrocka, Z., & Nawrocki, J. (2007). Airbag hit as a cause of retinal detachment–case report. Klinika oczna, 109(10-12), 455-456.
Pearlman, J. A., Eong, K. A., Kuhn, F., & Pieramici, D. J. (2001). Airbags and eye injuries: epidemiology, spectrum of injury, and analysis of risk factors. Survey of ophthalmology, 46(3), 234-242.
Duma, S. M., Kress, T. A., Porta, D. J., Woods, C. D., Snider, J. N., Fuller, P. M., & Simmons, R. J. (1996). Airbag-induced eye injuries: a report of 25 cases. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 41(1), 114-119.
About the Author
Article Author: This law article was written by attorney Ray Benyamin, Esquire. Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California. His law license number is 277263. He has been practicing law for 10 years. Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Mr. Benyamin has personally helped his clients recover over $10,000,000 in vehicle accident insurance claims in the State of California.
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