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Common Car Accident Injuries and Types of Car Accidents

Legally reviewed by: Miriam Domer June 27, 2022
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Car accidents can lead to any number of injuries. The impact of a person’s body colliding with the car, seat belt, objects in the car, or other passengers can cause serious injuries that lead to lasting damage. While any car accident can result in bodily injury, some types of car accidents are more likely to be harmful to accident victims, such as head-on collisions. Here at LegalFinders, you can find more information about the most common car accident injuries, types of car accidents, and your legal options after being injured in a car crash.

Medic examining victim after a car accident

What Types of Injuries Are Caused By Car Accidents?

The injuries that result from a motor vehicle accident can be minor, such as a cut, or major, like internal bleeding or spinal cord damage. The severity of an injury may depend on many factors, such as speed at the time of the crash, the direction of travel of each of the vehicles, whether passengers were wearing seat belts, and more.

Burns And Lacerations

Some of the more minor injuries a person may experience in car accidents include lacerations, or cuts, and burns or bruising (contusion). Cuts and scrapes can happen when a car accident victim is ejected from the vehicle, when glass is shattered, or if a sharp object collides with the person. This could happen if three are unsecured items in the car.

Burn injuries can happen due to chemical exposure, some form of electricity, or heat. Unfortunately, this could happen if the vehicle catches fire. Car fires or explosions can result from defective car parts due to a manufacturing error, such as the gas tank or fuel pump.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain collides into the skull due to an outside impact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This could be due to a bump or blow to the head, but can also result from car accidents.

In fact, there were more than 10,000 TBI due to unintentional motor vehicle crashes between 2018 and 2019 in the U.S., per the CDC. This is the second-leading cause of TBI in the U.S., next to unintentional fall injuries.

These injuries are generally categorized as either a mild TBI, a concussion, or moderate to severe TBI. Car accidents tend to lead to moderate to severe brain injuries, which may have lasting effects, including coma, brain damage, or brain death.

Back Injuries

Back injuries commonly occur due to car crashes because a person’s body continues to travel at the same rate when the vehicle stops due to the crash. This means their body will collide with something, such as the seat belt restraint, steering wheel, dashboard, airbag, seat in front of them, or the windshield (if they’re unrestrained).

This can lead to a number of different back injuries, some of which may result in long-term back pain. Common back injuries seen in car accident victims include:

  • Spinal fractures to the lumbar or thoracic vertebrae
  • Herniated discs, which happen due to dislocation of the discs in your back
  • Spondylolisthesis, or displaced vertebra caused by a stress fracture
  • Facet joint injuries, which can lead to muscle spasms and tightening
  • Shooting pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Degenerative spinal disorders, which can be caused by long-term damage months after a back injury

Injuries To The Chest

People may experience chest injuries in car accidents due to the force of the seat belt restraining them during the crash. This can lead to bruising, abrasions, and rib fractures. It may also result in strained muscles or internal organ damage.

Head And Neck Injuries Or Whiplash

Head injuries and neck injuries are also common due to the force of the impact during collisions. Car crashes can cause a person’s head and neck to be thrown forward and whipped back quickly. This type of injury is known as whiplash.

Whiplash injuries are common in rear-end collisions and often lead to lasting neck pain and shoulder pain. Unfortunately, adrenaline can mask symptoms of injuries like whiplash, which means a person may not be aware of the injury until after the accident. Other common neck injuries include:

  • Neck sprains and strains
  • Shooting pain in the neck
  • Herniated discs in the neck
  • Neck contusions (bruising)
  • Pinched nerve
  • Neck fractures
  • Muscle stiffness

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries can happen in automobile accidents due to the way a person is seated when the impact occurs. Yet many knee injury symptoms won’t show up right away. Some common knee injuries seen in car accidents include:

  • Torn meniscus
  • Dislocation of the knee
  • Kneecap fracture
  • Muscle injury
  • Cartilage injury
  • Ruptured tendons
  • Torn ligaments

Foot And Leg Injuries

You could suffer a broken foot or leg due to an auto accident. Foot injuries could include compartment syndrome, or excessive fluid buildup and muscle swelling, foot fractures, metatarsal fractures, or foot crush injuries.

Leg injuries might include soft tissue injuries, leg fractures, torn ligaments, or, in severe cases, amputation.

Shoulder, Wrist, And Arm Injuries

Shoulder injuries tend to occur when car accident victims are struck by something, or if they hit something in front of them during the crash, like the dashboard. Such injuries can include muscle stiffness, swelling, limited range of motions, bruising, and fractures.

Wrist injuries may be caused on impact and tend to happen due to soft tissue damage or bone fractures. Examples include a broken wrist, sprain, or bruising and abrasions of the wrist and hand.

Arm injuries may result due to blunt force trauma from the crash and can lead to soft tissue damage in the muscles or tendons or ligaments.

Broken Bones

Broken bones are some of the most common injuries cited in motor vehicle accidents. While many bone fractures apply to limbs, like arms or legs, bone fractures can also occur in the head, neck, face, feet, wrists, hands, clavicle, spine, and more.

Accident-Related PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often afflicts car accident survivors. One study by Frontiers in Psychiatry showed that nearly half of all accident survivors developed ptsd symptoms one month after their accidents.

While this is not a physical injury, PTSD symptoms can greatly affect a person’s life, such as their ability to drive, for months or even years to come.

Catastrophic Injuries In Motor Vehicle Accidents

Catastrophic injuries are those which are most severe or life-threatening in nature. While medical treatment or physical therapy can treat many car accident-related injuries, some will require long-term care or can lead to life-altering effects. These include the following injuries.

Crush Injuries

Crushing injuries are those that occur due to forceful collisions, such as a head-on collision truck accident or a high-speed accident. Some crush injuries, such as in minor traffic accidents, can be treated. Others can be more dangerous, including those that lead to internal organ damage and system failure, a condition known as crush syndrome.

Injuries To Soft Tissues Or Organs

Soft tissue injuries refer to harm to the soft areas of the body, including its ligaments, tendons, and muscles. A common example of soft tissue injury is whiplash, though soft tissue damage can occur nearly anywhere in the body.

While injury to the soft tissue can typically be treated with proper medical care, bleeding and infection are a real risk.

Car accidents can lead to internal injuries and organ damage in some severe crashes. Affected organs may include the liver, kidneys, and spleen. Injuries to these organs can affect their functioning, which can cause lasting damage or be life-threatening.

Spinal Cord Injuries And Paralysis

Your spinal cord comprises a collection of nerve tissue encased by vertebrae. Together, these components form your spine. The spinal cord is not just responsible for your spine, however. It’s also connected to many nerves throughout your body. It’s what gives you range of motion in your legs, for example.

When the spinal cord becomes damaged, such as in a car wreck, this can lead to lasting or even permanent damage. Spinal cord injuries can include loss of feeling, muscle spasms, long-term pain, loss of bladder control or bowels, and paralysis, or loss of mobility.

Disfigurement

The term ‘disfigurement’ refers to scarring. Any number of personal injuries in a car accident can lead to permanent scarring, including amputation, lacerations, burns, and limb loss.

While this may not seem like a serious injury, the emotional distress a person might experience over a drastic change in appearance can have long-term effects on their emotional and mental well-being.

Dismemberment

Dismemberment is the term for the unexpected loss of a limb, such as in a car crash. People may lose limbs (legs or arms) or digits (fingers or toes). Such a devastating injury can lead to a new way of life, which is why many seek compensation for dismemberment when the accident was due to someone else’s negligence.

Fatalities

The most serious injury of all is, of course, death. There are many motor vehicle accident fatalities in the United States each year, impacting thousands of family members and loved ones.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Auto Accidents?

Injuries can result from any type of accident. However, some car accidents occur more than others on the nation’s roadways. Common types of car accidents include:

  • Head-on collisions: two-vehicle crashes where both cars are facing each other
  • Rear-end collisions: one car collides with the car traveling in front of it
  • Sideswipe accidents: which occur when one car veers into another car
  • Rollover accidents: single-vehicle crashes which occur when a car rolls onto its side or makes a complete roll
  • T-bone accidents: happen when one vehicle collides perpendicular with another

FAQs

What Is The Most Common Injury From A Car Accident?

Soft tissue injuries, which affect softer areas inside the body, are those most cited in car accidents. Other top injuries include broken bones and whiplash.

What Causes Car Accident Injuries?

Injuries can occur for a number of reasons in motor vehicle accidents. The impact is one of the biggest causes of injury, since human bodies are not meant to collide with objects due to blunt force.

Injuries may be caused by colliding with the steering wheel, seat belt, windshield, dashboard, seat in front of you, a flying object, an object that impales your window or door, and other causes.

How Long Does It Take For Injuries To Show Up After A Car Accident?

Some injuries may be readily apparent and show up right away. such as external bleeding, bruising, swelling, or severe broken bones.

Others may take hours to show up, such as internal bleeding or organ damage. Still others may show up weeks or months after the accident, like knee injuries, whiplash, or PTSD.

Do You Have To Get Medical Attention To Be Paid For Injuries After A Car Accident?

This will depend on your case. It may be easier to get paid through an insurance company claim or get compensated through filing a lawsuit if you have the medical bills to prove you suffered physical injuries from the accident and have had to seek care for your injuries.

It is always helpful to have documentation to show any loss you incurred such as direct medical costs for treatment, or the loss of ability to return to work right away and wages that you may have lost as a result.

A personal injury lawyer can help you prove your injuries, but this may be accomplished more easily with records that demonstrate the extent of your injuries.

Get Compensated For Your Injuries After A Car Accident With Help From LegalFinders

Are you ready to start a personal injury claim to seek fair compensation after a car accident? LegalFinders can offer the help you need to get started. Law firms who work with us employ highly skilled personal injury attorneys who are ready and willing to fight for your maximum payout. Learn more during a free consultation today and we’ll help you find the best car accident attorney for your case.

Article Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Get the Facts About TBI

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Traumatic Brain Injury-related Deaths by Age Group, Sex, and Mechanism of Injury

Johns Hopkins Medicine — Knee Injuries

Johns Hopkins Medicine — Soft-Tissue Injuries

Mayo Clinic —  Spinal cord injury

Mayo Clinic — Traumatic brain injury

Mayo Clinic — Whiplash

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Arm Injuries and Disorders

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Back Injuries

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus —  Crush Injury

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Foot Injuries and Disorders

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Leg Injuries and Disorders

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Shoulder Injuries and Disorders

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Wrist Injuries and Disorders

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