Types of Car Accident Injuries

Daisy Rogozinsky
April 10, 2022
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
February 16, 2023

According to the World Health Organization, between 20 and 50 million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents every year. These range from minor injuries like cuts and bruises that heal quickly to injuries with permanent effects like physical disability. 

The severity of the injury depends on a number of factors from seat belt use, the way the vehicle was impacted, positioning of the individual within the car, whether or not airbags were deployed, and so on. 

Most injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents will fall into two types: impact injuries and penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are caused when a person’s body hits part of the interior of the car. Penetrating injuries are caused by shattered glass or loose objects flying inside the car.

Below, we offer an overview of the most common types of injuries sustained in car accidents.

1. Whiplash

The most common type of car accident injury is whiplash, which can happen in both minor and major accidents. It’s especially likely in unexpected rear-end collisions in which the individual’s head jerks backward from the force of the impact. The sudden forward and backward movement of the head strains the muscles and tendons of the upper back and neck leading to neck pain, blurred vision, headache, tingling, and general localized pain. 

2. Other Neck Injuries

In addition to whiplash, there are other types of neck injuries that can result from a motor vehicle accident impact. Unfortunately, these often go unnoticed and untreated, sometimes leading to long-term issues. That’s why it’s important to pay attention and see if you notice any tension, discomfort, or spasms in your neck in the days following your crash. If you do, it’s a good idea to see a doctor immediately, who will use tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to diagnose your neck injury.

3. Lacerations

When a car accident happens, there are many things both inside and outside of the vehicle that can become hard or sharp edges such as shattered windows, seatbelts, and airbags. These can all cause lacerations such as cuts, scrapes, and even degloving injuries in which the skin is torn off, exposing the underlying tissue. Laceration injuries can lead to permanent scarring and impaired function. 

4. Fractures

Fractures are a common type of injury from high-speed car accidents. If the force of the collision is strong enough, it can make the body come into contact with parts of the car causing fractures, breaks, and cracks to the bones of the arms, legs, ribs, and more. These types of injuries require immediate medical attention and often long-term orthopedic care and physical therapy to get back to normal function. 

5. Burns

There are several ways that an individual might be burned in the event of a car accident. The device used to activate the airbag can cause burns, as well as any explosions or fires caused by major accidents. Seatbelts can also cause friction burns as they make contact with the skin. Car accident burns can range in severity from first- to third-degree and should be treated by a professional. 

6. Back & Spine Injuries

Another common type of injury caused by car accidents is back and spine injuries, which can cause long-term problems for the overall health, breathing, and mobility. The best way to increase the likelihood of a full recovery from spinal injury is to get early treatment, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor after your motor vehicle accident if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your back.

7. Herniated Disc

A herniated disk is a specific type of spinal injury in which one of the discs of the spine, used to absorb and cushion the vertebrae, is caused to shift or bulge outward. This can happen in the event of both minor and severe impacts. Herniated discs can lead to pain and other complications, but 90% of them go away on their own within around six months. 

8. Chest Injuries

As it is directly facing the steering wheel with little space in between them, the chest is also often injured in car accidents. This can be in the form of contusions, bruises, broken ribs, and injuries to internal organs. Seat belts can also cause bruising to the chest during impact, as can the deployment of the air bag.

9. Internal Bleeding

One more serious injury that can happen during a car accident is internal bleeding. This might be caused by fractures, punctures, or blunt force trauma. Internal bleeding can lead to other problems such as loss of limbs, permanent organ damage, and even death. That is why internal bleeding requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect that somebody who was involved in your car accident has it, you should call emergency services immediately.

10. Concussion

If you hit your head during a collision, you may experience a concussion, which is a type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions usually cause temporary effects such as headaches and issues with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. Most concussions will heal on their own but, in the event of vomiting, loss of consciousness for over 30 seconds, vision disturbances, or bleeding from the nose or ears, you should seek emergency care.

If You're Injured, Get Help

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering. An experienced attorney can help walk you through the process of negotiation with your insurance and/or the insurance of the at-fault party to receive the fairest pay-out.

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