A few days ago, there was a local article about a St. Charles County three-vehicle car accident on Interstate 70. A publication afterwards described one person’s injuries in the crash as “minor.”

The phrase gives rise to the question, though: are “minor injuries” always minor? The answer is simple: No, those injuries can sometimes have major complications for those who suffer them.

In many cases, law enforcement officers will list injuries as “minor” because they’re not catastrophic or life-threatening. Take, for instance, neck and back injuries. If these injuries don’t threaten the life of the victim, a police officer is likely to write in his report that the injuries were “minor.”

Yet the pain from a neck or back injury can be devastating and last for weeks, months, even years after an accident. That’s clearly not a minor event to the person suffering.

What’s more, in many cases, symptoms from those kinds of injuries can take days to become apparent after a crash. In some instances, insurance companies will resist settling with an accident victim whose symptoms are not immediately obvious.

Other injuries considered “minor” can include broken legs, broken arms, broken ribs, cuts and lacerations. Again, these injuries can have a major impact on the mobility, ability to work and the health of the person who sustains them, but can appear on a police report to be minor.

We should all be glad when people in car accidents avoid major injuries, but also mindful of the painful reality that just because an injury is deemed minor by a police officer or a newspaper doesn’t mean it’s a trivial matter.

Source: St. Peters Patch, “St. Peters Man Uninjured After Crash on Interstate 70,” May 5, 2013