According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 4.8 million people were injured or killed in car accidents across the country in 2020. In Los Angeles, at least 64,608 people got hurt in area auto crashes that year.
Some of these injuries are relatively minor, while other injuries are catastrophic and have life-changing consequences.
Below, our auto accident attorneys in Los Angeles discuss some of the most common car accident injuries, why they happen, and what you can do if you get hurt.
Contact or call the M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers at (877) 300-4535 today for your free consultation.
Head and Brain Injuries
Trauma to the head is incredibly common in motor vehicle accidents. In a collision, the occupant of a vehicle can strike their head on the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, windows, or on flying debris or objects. If a driver or passenger is ejected from a vehicle, they can hit their head on the ground or another object outside of the vehicle.
Some common head and brain injuries sustained in car accidents include:
- Coup-contrecoup brain injury
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Skull fracture
- Penetrating head injury
- Diffuse axonal injury
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), accounting for roughly 17.3 percent of TBIs annually.
It’s important to seek prompt medical treatment if you’ve suffered force blunt trauma to the head during a car accident in Los Angeles. Brain injuries may not be evident right away. Seeing an experienced medical professional for care can help to mitigate your injury and reduce the risk of complications or death.
Neck and Back Injuries
The neck and back can absorb a lot of the impact when you’re in a collision. When this happens, it can cause the muscles, bones, and soft tissue in the neck and back to stretch, tear, shift, or break.
Commonly reported neck and back car accident injuries include:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Fractured vertebrae
- Facet Joint Injuries
- Spinal stenosis
Whiplash is, by far, the most commonly occurring crash-related neck and back injury, with more than 3 million reported cases across the nation annually.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the skull to your tailbone. Even though the spinal cord is protected by a series of vertebrae, discs, and tissue, it is still susceptible to trauma, especially in catastrophic accidents.
In a car accident, sharp sudden movements can cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries.
While any part of the spinal cord can become injured in a traffic accident, cervical spinal cord injuries are the most common. One study found that 83 percent of crash victims with a spinal cord injury had trauma to the cervical region.
Research suggests that spinal cord injuries and spinal fractures are seen most often in victims of rollover car accidents. About 70 percent of spinal fractures are associated with rollovers.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue refers to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that can be found throughout the body. In an accident, the force of impact or trauma can cause soft tissue to stretch and tear.
Some commonly reported soft tissue car accident injuries include:
- Bruising and contusions
Soft tissue injuries range from mild (Grade 1) to moderate (Grade 2) to severe (Grade 3).
It typically takes about one to two weeks to recover from a Grade 1 soft tissue injury. Crash victims exhibiting Grade 2 soft tissue injuries will have about a three-to-four-week recovery period. Grade 3 soft tissue injuries can cause permanent damage if not treated immediately.
The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSAA) reports that roughly 4 out of 5 car accident victims will experience an injury to the head or chest. Based on crash statistics for Los Angeles, roughly 51,686 people sustained trauma to the chest or head in 2020 crashes. That’s about 141 or 142 head and chest injuries every day.
Chest injuries are incredibly common – and catastrophic – especially in drivers because of their proximity to the steering wheel. Blunt force trauma caused by an expanding airbag or restraint of the seatbelt can also cause chest injuries.
Occupants of motor vehicles involved in collisions may suffer chest injuries including:
- Ruptured diaphragm
- Puncture wound
- Broken ribs
- Bruised ribs
- Internal organ damage
- Chest contusion
Research suggests that chest injuries are responsible for about 35 percent of trauma-related fatalities nationwide annually.
It’s estimated that 2 million Americans suffer broken bones every year. Traumatic incidents – like traffic accidents – are a leading cause of fracture injuries.
Broken bones can occur when a bone becomes crushed by the vehicle, when a limb is twisted or manipulated in an unnatural way, or when the body is subjected to blunt force trauma.
Bones that are most often fractured in car accidents include the:
- Rib, and
- Spinal vertebrae.
Joints – including the wrist, elbow, knee, and hip – are particularly susceptible to fractures in a crash.
There are two ways to lose a limb in a Los Angeles car accident.
The first involves a traumatic amputation, in which you lose a limb in the accident itself. This might happen if a limb or extremity is torn from the body or sliced by glass or the sharp metal edge of a vehicle.
The second involves a surgical amputation, where a limb becomes so damaged that it is necessary to remove it during a post-accident surgical procedure. A limb might have to be removed if it becomes crashed or badly mangled and can’t be saved or if it poses a threat of infection or additional injury to the rest of the body.
While they don’t happen every time, it’s possible to sustain severe burns in a collision.
Common mechanisms of car accident-related burn injuries include:
- Contact with the hot engine or other components under the hood
- Contact with heated exterior steel frames and doors
- Contact with live wires
- Contact with leaking gasoline, oil, or chemicals
- Hot debris
- Airbag deployment or defects
Burns can range from minor (first degree) all the way up to catastrophic (fourth-and-fifth degree). The greater the trauma to the skin, underlying tissue, and bone, the more likely it is that a crash victim will experience permanent damage or death.
Delayed Car Accident Injuries
Not all injuries sustained in a car accident will be evident right away. Some injuries – like broken bones or lacerations – can be easy to spot. Others, like those that take place internally, can be more difficult to pinpoint.
In some situations, signs and symptoms of a car accident injury might not appear for days or even weeks after a wreck.
Some injuries that might exhibit delayed symptoms include:
- Internal bleeding
- Brain injury
- Blood clots
- Spine injury
Some delayed signs of car accident injuries include:
- Chronic headache
- Persistent nausea
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blurred vision
- Weakness and fatigue
- Mood swings
- Tingling in the extremities
This is why it’s critically important to seek the care of a medical professional as soon as you can after a car accident in Los Angeles. You’ll undergo a thorough physical assessment where a doctor can run tests to identify all potential injuries. The sooner an injury is diagnosed, the less likely it becomes that it can worsen and lead to potentially fatal complications.
In 2020, 769 people were killed in Los Angeles car accidents. That’s, on average, more than two car accident fatalities every day.
Typically, catastrophic injuries like burns, amputations, spinal cord trauma, and severe traumatic brain injuries are the ones that result in death.
When an auto accident in Los Angeles is fatal, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent driver or another liable party doesn’t disappear. Rather, it shifts to a surviving spouse, child, parent, or another family member.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles Today
Are you struggling with painful and debilitating injuries because you were in a car accident in Los Angeles, California? You may have the right to pursue monetary damages in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers. Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers can help you position yourself to win your case and maximize your financial recovery.
Since 2013, our car accident attorneys have been advocating for crash victims and families in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. Putting over 100+ years of combined experience behind every case, we’ve been able to secure more than $400 million in monetary awards.
You’ll only have two years from the date of an injury or death to file a car accident lawsuit in California, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for help today. Your first consultation is free, so call now our Los Angeles, CA law office today.