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Every year, vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Many of these wrecks happen during the holiday season, when traffic increases and the weather is normally bad. From a fault standpoint, many of these wrecks are quite complex. The tragic saga of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is a good example.

Hit and run wrecks like this one are always difficult to resolve. Making matters worse, it appears that Grandma might have been partially responsible, from a legal standpoint. According to the song, she’d been drinking too much eggnog and had skipped her medication when she “staggered out into the snow.” Furthermore, the evidence that Santa Claus ran over grandma is entirely circumstantial.

Even if a victim can establish liability and obtain a judgement, collecting on that judgement is often an issue. No insurance company would ever cover a sleigh powered by magical flying creatures. So, Santa was most likely uninsured. This problem is not unique to the GGROBAR wreck. Tennessee has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country. The Volunteer State also has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. So, many drivers are either uninsured or underinsured.

Social Security Disability claims are different. Liability for the holiday car crash is irrelevant in these cases. The extent of injury is all that matters. So, the SSI lawyers near you at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm bypass these complex problems and simply concentrate on getting you the financial benefits you need and deserve in the Memphis Metro Area, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Types of Disabling Injuries

Some of the most common car wreck injuries are also some of the most disabling ones. In fact, a significant number of SSD claims are related to vehicle collision injuries, typically when, as discussed above, the responsible party was either uninsured or underinsured. Given the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disability,” which is examined below, almost any vehicle collision injury could be disabling in the right context. The professionals at Heermans Social Security Law Firm (SSA law firm) can evaluate your case and help make a preliminary determination beginning with a FREE Evaluation

We aren’t sure what injuries Grandma sustained in her unfortunate reindeer incident. However, given the weight of Santa’s sleigh (he has lots of presents to deliver) and her rather frail (or compromised) condition, she probably suffers from one or more of the injuries on this list.

Traumatic Brain Injury

The effects of a brain injury, such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sleep-disrupting nightmares, and personality changes, make it difficult or impossible to function at work, home, school, or anywhere else. Additionally, TBIs are permanent. When brain cells die, they do not regenerate.

Frequently, the motion of a wreck, as opposed to a trauma impact, causes a brain injury. When vehicles stop suddenly in wrecks, the occupants’ heads keep moving forward. As a result, the brain will slam against the insides of the skull. These hidden TBIs are even more disabling than trauma TBIs. This type of injury typically causes a swelling of the brain leading to other symptoms. 


This nerve injury, which is especially common in side-impact and rear-end wrecks,  is also related to the motion of a collision. The direction of these crashes causes the neck to violently snap backward or sideways. As a result, the nerves are damaged.

Initially, the symptoms mimic soreness from the accident. Only later does pain begin radiating down the arms from the shoulders. At that point, permanent partial paralysis may be just around the corner.

On top of everything else, whiplash is a soft tissue injury. X-rays, MRIs, and other common diagnostic tests don’t detect it. So, whiplash is very difficult to diagnose and heavily depends on its symptoms for diagnosis.

Fractured Bones

The extreme force of a high-speed collision normally does not simply break bones. It usually crushes them. Therefore, doctors must use metal parts, like plates, pins, or rods, to reconstruct shattered bones. The more invasive the corrective surgery, the harder it is for physical therapists to completely restore lost function.

Usually, physical therapists work until victims reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). At that point, the victim will never improve. As a rule of thumb, if MMI means limited range of motion, SSD benefits might be unavailable. But if victims need canes or walkers when they reach MMI, that’s a different story and may comply with SSD approval criteria.

Back Injuries

Much like TBIs, SCIs (Spinal Cord Injuries) are permanent. Additionally, SCIs are extremely expensive. The lifetime costs could exceed $4 million. Ancillary costs, like wheelchair ramps, wider halls, and other significant changes, could be almost as high.

As mentioned above, most people don’t have nearly enough insurance to cover these costs. Disability benefits give these families the resources they need to live their lives.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a specific kind of brain injury. TBIs randomly affect different parts of the brain. PTSD is different. Exposure to extreme stress, like a car wreck, creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. The amygdala (part of the brain that controls emotional responses) enlarges, and the cerebral cortex (logical responses) shrinks. The resulting imbalance triggers symptoms like depression, personality changes, and hypervigilance.

Some post-traumatic stress is normal and even helpful. If the symptoms persist or get worse, the victim probably has PTSD. Sometimes, a combination of medication and therapy reduces PTSD symptoms to the point they are no longer disabling. But that’s certainly not true in all cases.

The Definition of “Disability”

According to the SSA, people are disabled if they have a medical condition (or in this case, a physical injury) which makes it impossible to continue prior employment or find new employment. Additionally, the illness or injury must be terminal or long-term (expected to last at least a year).

So, proof of an injury alone is insufficient. A SSA Claims Examiner must also be convinced that the effects of this injury are disabling, according to the above definition. Medical reports alone don’t convey this concept. Additional evidence includes testimony from co-workers, family, and friends about the effects of an injury. For example, a medical report might state that Ben suffers from PTSD. Ben’s co-worker could state that any sudden interruption, like a desktop email alert, shatters Ben’s disposition, emotional balance, and concentration for the rest of the day.

Other qualifying factors, such as the amount of work, come into play as well. As of January 1, 2021, workers receive one credit for every $1,470 they earn. Typically, claimants need 40 credits to qualify for disability benefits. Exceptions are available for severely disabled younger people.

For more information contact the Memphis SSI disability lawyers at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm if you have been experiencing a disability due to an accident or been denied SSD claim benefits. More Social Security Disability value added information is located in our website article library. This information is free and can be shared with others. Call (901) 244-0057 or text us 24/7. Contact us about your case here and we will show you how to proceed forward. 

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