Did you know that every year, worldwide, 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries resulting from car accidents? While many of these injuries are minor, in the U.S. alone, 4.4 million people are injured seriously enough to require medical attention. No matter the circumstances, there are many common car accident injuries that affect both drivers and passengers.
Car accidents generally cause two main types of common injuries:
- Impact: Impact injuries result from when the victim’s body hits some part of the inside of the vehicle.
- Penetrating: Penetrating injuries are generally cuts and scrapes because something that’s part of the vehicle penetrates the skin.
The nature & extent of car accident injuries varies depending on many factors, such as:
- Were the injured parties wearing a seat belt?
- Where was the person’s car hit? A rear-end collision will have different injuries than a T-bone collision or a head-on collision.
- Did the car crash occur at high speed?
- Did the vehicles involved have airbags?
- Was the occupant facing forward in his or her seat? Or was the occupant’s head or body turned in a different direction?
Whether minor or severe, car accident injuries cause pain and suffering.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury occurs when the body’s connective tissues are damaged. This makes them a common car accident injury. They occur to some extent in even the most minor of car accidents. Soft tissue injuries include muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As such, they can take many forms.
Neck Injuries and Whiplash
Whiplash is a common car accident injury because of the forces involved in a car crash. The impact may cause your body to move in ways it’s not supposed to, faster than it would under normal circumstances. This results in sprains to the soft tissue in your neck, known as whiplash. It’s uncomfortable and can take weeks to recover from. However, the good news is that whiplash alone is rarely responsible for permanent injury on its own.
Bruises, Scrapes, and Cuts
These are among the most common auto accident injuries, as loose objects in the car could cause harm in a collision. Cell phones, coffee cups, purses, etc., can all potentially cause injury. Even the force of the seatbelt doing its job to protect you can leave you with bruises in the days following an accident.
Depending on the extent of the accident and impact, these scrapes and bruises may be minor and require no medical treatment. However, if the windshield or window glass shatters, you could end up with more serious scrapes and cuts that require stitches. Broken glass could need to be cleaned out of wounds before they are stitched up.
You may also experience bruising if the airbag deploys. Typically, bruises are minor and will heal on their own within a week or two of the accident.
Fractures and Broken Bones
The impact of the car crash may leave your body in positions it wouldn’t naturally be in. You may have your arm or leg pinned against the door or the dashboard. Any broken bone will require medical attention to heal properly. More serious breaks may require surgery with plates or pins to reconstruct the body part.
Commonly broken bones include:
- Arms and legs
You may also experience chest injuries like a fractured sternum because of the seatbelt.
Head injuries are among some of the most serious car accident injuries. They are a result of a sudden blow to the head or a violent jolt of the body. Your head may hit the steering wheel, window, or dashboard. It may come into contact with another loose object. The impact may cause your brain to hit your skull, which causes traumatic brain injury (TBI.) Head injuries, no mater how minor, can have serious consequences.
Traumatic brain injuries are classified into three levels.
Concussions: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Concussions are mild injuries to the brain. Signs include headache, issues with memory and judgment, and issues with balance and coordination. Most people who suffer a concussion will recover fully after a bit of rest. If you suffer multiple concussions, you become more susceptible to serious injuries in the event of another head injury.
Post Concussion Syndrome: Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
In more severe injuries, people may experience concussion symptoms for a few months to a year after the injury.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
In the most severe cases of TBI, the brain has moved within the skull. This can cause severe disability and even death.
Spinal Cord and Back Injuries
When it comes to car accident injuries, spinal cord injuries are among the most common and most serious. Even minor issues like fractured vertebrae, a bulging or herniated disc, and pinched nerves can cause extreme pain.
In more severe car accident injuries, the spine may sustain so much damage that paralysis occurs. Paraplegia, or paralysis from the waist down, is a typical result of injuries to the thoracic spine (mid-back.) Quadriplegia, or paralysis from the neck down, is a typical result of injuries to the cervical spine (upper back/neck).
Aside from damage to the spine itself, back injuries are among the most common car accident injuries. Soft tissue injuries are common since there are many muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back.
A car accident may cause your knee to twist or rotate with force. You may end up with a sprain, a strain, or tears in the soft tissue or cartilage. Common knee injuries are a torn meniscus and a torn or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL).
If you damage your ACL or MCL, surgery and extensive rehab will be necessary for recovery. Meniscus tears may require surgery, depending on the extent of the damage. However, physical therapy and bracing can help with recovery.
In some accidents, the force of the impact may cause damage to your internal organs. Sometimes, your spleen, liver, and kidneys may be bruised or bleed. Internal bleeding is a serious and life-threatening injury. Injuries of this nature are more common in high-speed collisions. This is one of the leading car accident injuries that cause death.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Commonly associated with combat veterans, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that can affect anyone after a traumatic event. Any time the body is in a high-stress situation, such as in a car accident, there’s the possibility of PTSD. Symptoms may include:
- Fear of driving after an accident
- Fear of riding in a car after the accident
- Avoiding the area where the accident occurred
- Anxiety around travel
- Trouble sleeping
- Nightmares (involving the accident or surrounding driving/riding in a car in general)
Even if your physical injuries were minor, you might still be dealing with PTSD. Seeking professional medical treatment with a therapist can help you learn how to cope with your symptoms and return to a normal life.
Need a Car Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one have car accident related injuries, you might be entitled to compensation. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you in a time of need. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help you. Call us today for your free case evaluation and to learn more about how we can help.