Common Car Accident Injuries
Each year more than 3 million people in the U.S. are injured in motor vehicle accidents. Some of those injuries are minor, requiring little or no medical care, while others can be serious, with lasting physical and psychological disabilities. There are many factors that determine what may be sustained in car accident injuries, and how bad those injuries are. They include such things as:
- Was the injured person wearing a seatbelt?
- Did the vehicle have airbags? If so did they work properly?
- Was the vehicle hit in a high-speed or low-speed collision?
- Was the vehicle hit in the front, side, or back?
- How was the injured person sitting? Were they leaning forward? Was their neck or back turned? Or, did they have their arms close to or extended out in front of them?
- Were they driving a small, medium, or large vehicle?
- Was the vehicle that hit them small, medium, or large?
- Did the injured person’s vehicle rollover or strike another object?
- Did any objects inside of the car strike the driver or passengers?
- Did any of the windows or the windshield break? If so, how did it break? Was anyone in the car injured by the glass?
Generally speaking, there is a direct correlation between the severity of a car accident and the severity of a personal injury. But, there are exceptions to that rule. Occasionally, a serious accident occurs and there are few injuries to the driver. Then, there are those seemingly minor accidents where the driver is seriously hurt and suffers terrible, long-lasting injuries. Some of the more common injuries that occur during car accidents include those below.
Scrapes and Cuts
During accidents, items inside a vehicle can be thrown around, that cause injuries to anyone inside. Common items include broken glass (i.e. windows and windshield glass), coffee cups, cell phones, flashlights, eyeglasses, purses, rearview mirrors, and dash-mounted video cameras and GPS units. Depending upon the accident, the injuries sustained can be anywhere from minor to serious and life-threatening.
Head and Brain Injuries
Two of the more common injuries that occur in a car accident is an injury to the head and brain. The head can hit the windows, steering wheel, or anything else within close proximity. The head can also be struck by objects in the car that are not secured properly. Many people aren’t aware that they can sustain a brain injury even if they don’t hit their head. The brain, which is protected by fluid, can still be severely injured during an accident. The brain violently impacts the inside of the skull at least two times. Once when the vehicle is hit and the head is thrust in the direction of the vehicle that hit it, and then when the head springs back. The inside of the skull has many sharp edges that can further magnify damage via blunt force trauma. The violent shaking can cause bruising, tearing, and bleeding in the brain. Sometimes, injury to the brain may not be noticed for days, weeks, or even months after the accident. Traditional imaging, such as CT Scans or MRI, isn’t sensitive enough to show the microscopic damage that can occur, especially if there is no bleeding. But, the damage resulting from an accident can cause mild to debilitating headaches, mood disorders, dizziness, confusion, sleepiness, as well as visual, thinking, speech, language, and perception problems.
Neck and Back Injuries
These types of injuries are classified as “soft-tissue” injuries because they affect the soft tissues that connect the bones to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They include injuries such as strains, sprains, fractures, spinal disc injuries, and even spinal cord injuries. Sometimes these types of injuries don’t take long to present themselves, while other times they can take weeks or months to appear. Unfortunately, some neck and back injuries can cause long-lasting or indefinite pain and discomfort.
Damage to the face, including fractures to the teeth and jaw bone, and lacerations to the skin, are common injuries that occur during car accidents.
Injuries to the chest and torso are also common during car accidents. Injuries range from minor ones such as contusions and bruising, to more serious injuries such as internal and external bleeding, organ damage, collapsed lungs, and fractured or broken ribs. It is not uncommon for injured persons, who have bad hearts, to suffer heart attacks during or after a car accident.
Left Shoulder and Hip Injuries
The seat and shoulder belts were designed to prevent the driver and passengers from being thrown around inside of the vehicle during sudden stops. But during a car accident, those same seats and shoulder belts can cause injuries to the left shoulder, chest, and hips. For instance, in a front-end collision car accident injuries the human body is suddenly thrust forward, and the seatbelts around the waist and across the chest put pressure on the shoulder, chest, and waist, causing potential injury to those areas. Granted, it is always better to wear seat and shoulder belts when driving but the belts can still cause injury.
Arms, Legs, Hands, and Feet Injuries
The injuries to the arms, legs, hands, and feet happen in much the same way that other injuries occur. During car accident injuries, especially violent ones, it is a natural reaction to try to brace ourselves. That bracing action can lead to damage to our arms, legs, hands, and feet. Also, airbags that have saved many lives, deploy at high speeds and can result in broken bones, bruising, and sometimes even death.
During car accident injuries the body is thrown in many directions before it comes to a stop, and sometimes the knees end up crashing into the steering wheel, or dash. A person who anticipates an accident before it happens may try to slow the vehicle down by hitting the brakes. The force of the accident may push the body and the leg forward with such speed and momentum that it breaks the kneecap and the surrounding leg bones, tearing cartilage and muscles.
Car accident injuries aren’t limited to only the physical. Serious accidents, especially those where there is severe injuries or loss of life, can result in traumatic psychological injuries as well. The emotional distress can be short-lived or result in ongoing permanent psychological injury. The emotional scars from car accident injuries can necessitate counseling for a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Seek Medical Attention
After being in an accident, it is always a good idea to be checked out by a doctor and to follow the doctor’s advice. Many people assume they are ok if they don’t have pain after being in an accident, whether they have car accident injuries or not. It is an error that can cost people their physical and mental well-being, as well as their lives.
Seek Legal Advice
If you or a loved one has been in a motor vehicle accident, consider contacting a personal injury attorney for advice. A personal injury attorney can look at the circumstances surrounding the car accident injuries you sustained, to assess whether or not you have a case. M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers has offices in major cities throughout California. Call us for a free consultation.