What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries?

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Man driving in car on the highway towards the sunset.

More than three million people are injured each year in auto accidents across the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, there’s not just one type of injury that can happen in a car accident. Instead, motor vehicle accidents can injure just about every body part, from minor injuries like bruises to severe injuries like internal bleeding. 

It can take hours or even days to develop symptoms after a car accident. A medical professional can help spot the signs of delayed pain after an accident, so you should receive immediate medical attention to determine if you have a severe car accident injury. Do not risk chronic pain—or a lifetime of regret—by not visiting a medical professional as soon as possible. 

After seeking medical attention, learn how a qualified auto accident attorney can help file a personal injury claim and negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf. If you’ve suffered one of the below car accident injuries in a vehicle collision that was of no or little fault of your own, discover how you can receive compensation for your medical expenses. 

What Are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries?

Physical damage sustained during a car accident is referred to as a bodily injury. Even a minor fender-bender can cause a bodily injury, like an abrasion or contusion. Take a look at the most common car accident injuries, and be sure to watch for the following symptoms: 

Soft Tissue Injury: Sprains and Strains 

Soft tissue damage refers to stretches and tears in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A sprain is a tear in a muscle or ligament, and a strain is a tear in a tendon. Soft tissue injuries can occur anywhere in the body but most commonly occur in the neck, shoulder, thigh, or groin and may cause pain, swelling, and muscle spasms at the injury site. 

Neck Injury and Whiplash Injury 

Neck pain after a car accident can indicate a whiplash injury, especially after rear-end collisions. Whiplash occurs when the structures of the neck are forced forward and backward or side to side, damaging soft tissues, bones, and joints. Learn more about neck injuries after a car accident.

Head Injury: Concussions and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Auto accidents are a primary cause of head injuries, such as mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI occurs when the brain moves violently inside the skull, damaging brain tissue and cells. A concussion is a minor type of TBI that can cause momentary loss of consciousness. 

Symptoms of a mild TBI include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the ears

Head injuries from car accidents should always be treated seriously, even if it doesn’t seem so bad right after a crash.

Abrasions, Lacerations, and Burns

The trauma of an accident can slice, burn, and damage the skin. An abrasion is when the top layer of skin has been scraped away. A laceration is when a projectile in the vehicle, like broken glass, causes a deep wound in the skin. A burn is another common crash injury that occurs when vehicle components heat or catch fire. 

Contusions or Bruises

A contusion is a medical term for a bruise. This common injury occurs when the force of impact ruptures blood vessels beneath the skin. This happens when your body comes into direct contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, or window during an accident. 

Fractures: Finger, Arm, and Leg Injury

Car accident victim with broken arm in cast.

Some of the most common, non-life-threatening injuries in a car accident involve a fractured finger, arm, or leg. A fracture is a partial break or complete break in a bone.  Symptoms of a fracture are sudden pain, swelling, and the inability to move the affected area. 

Crush Injury: Wrist and Hand Injury

A crush injury is when the vehicle’s weight lands on a body part and damages the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This type of injury is common in roll-over crashes and frequently occurs to the wrist and hand. These injuries are usually apparent at the scene of the accident.

Ankle and Foot Injury 

Ankle and foot injuries are common in motor vehicle crashes due to the location of your legs during a collision. The force of impact of an accident can fracture the bones or damage the soft tissue of your ankles, feet, and toes. After an accident, you might feel numbness or throbbing pain in the area. 

Hip Injury 

There are several sources of hip injuries and hip pain after car accidents. The blunt force trauma of a car crash to these bones and network of soft tissues can cause injuries as varied as a hip fracture, dislocation, or tendonitis.

Torn Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Injury

During a wreck, your shoulders can be thrown into many uncomfortable positions, stretching or tearing the soft tissue. A torn rotator cuff occurs when a tendon is separated from the bone. Symptoms of a shoulder injury include stiffness, soreness, and limited range of motion.

Back Injury: Herniated Disc and Facet Joint Injury 

Your back comprises several tiny bones, called vertebrae, connected by facet joints and intervertebral discs. The trauma of a vehicle collision can damage one or more of the structures in your back, causing pain that radiates from your neck and shoulders to your hips. Take a look at the symptoms and causes of back pain after a car accident.

What Are the Most Severe Car Accident Injuries?

Empty hospital bed in ward.

A severe car accident injury may be permanent or require one or more surgeries to heal. In some cases, a severe injury may result in long-term disability, disfigurement, dismemberment, and in the worst cases, death. Major car accident injuries require immediate emergency medical assistance. 

Fractures: Neck or Skull  

Unlike a wrist or finger fracture, a neck or skull fracture can be life-threatening if the break damages critical nerves in the spine or affects brain tissue inside the skull. These injuries will drastically restrict your range of motion and may require surgery or several weeks in the hospital to heal.  

Chest Injuries: Seat Belt Injury 

Chest injuries occur when the blunt force trauma of a crash damages structures inside of the chest, like the ribs or lungs. Most commonly, this damage is related to seat belt injuries when the strap tightens against the body. Do not hesitate to learn more about the signs and symptoms of chest pain after a car accident.

Stomach Injury: Internal Organ Injury and Internal Bleeding

Stomach pain after a car accident can be the result of internal injuries, such as organ compression. Some of the most common but severe stomach injuries include internal bleeding and organ rupture. Symptoms include sharp stomach pain, bruising, fever, and fatigue. 

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Unlike a mild TBI, a severe traumatic brain injury can cause permanent brain damage, memory loss, and emotional injuries like mood swings. Symptoms of a severe TBI include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance 
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Decreased coordination

Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis 

A spinal cord injury is a traumatic injury that involves damage to the spinal cord or spinal canal. The force of impact or projectiles in the vehicle can strike or sever the spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis or death. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury involve weakness or loss of function of one or more body parts. 

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage occurs from direct injury to nerve structures or chronic inflammation that compresses nerve endings. After a car accident, nerve damage is common in the neck, back, and arm. Symptoms of nerve damage include sharp pain, shooting pain, numbness, and tingling.

Disfiguring Facial Injuries or Scars

A disfiguring facial injury occurs when lacerations or burns permanently change the appearance of the face. This type of severe injury is typically unknown until after initial injuries heal but can be anticipated if skin grafts or extensive stitches are necessary.  

Limb Loss and Amputation

Limb loss and amputation occur when the trauma of a motor vehicle accident either severs a body part or causes a need for it to be removed. This type of severe injury is common in high-speed collisions when the force of impact is much greater than a simple fender bender. 

How Common Are Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident?

Delayed pain after car accidents is incredibly common. After a motor vehicle crash, the shock and adrenaline of the event can mask pain symptoms. In the hours or days after an accident, pain symptoms can appear slowly or all at once. 

Many injuries have delayed symptoms, including whiplash and TBI, which is why it’s critical for accident victims to visit a doctor as soon as possible after a crash. 

Next Steps After Suffering a Car Accident Injury 

Insurance adjuster inspecting a car after and accident.

From rear-end collisions to side-swipe accidents, any motor vehicle accident can cause injuries. When left unaddressed, a car accident injury can have permanent side effects, such as chronic pain. If you believe you’ve been injured in a car accident, be sure to follow these five steps. 

1. Receive Thorough Medical Treatment 

Treating your accident injuries starts with an accurate diagnosis. After visiting a doctor and receiving a proper diagnosis, it is important to adhere to the recommended treatment plan, such as physical therapy or medication. 

2. Contact Your Insurance Company

Once you’re physically able, alert your insurance company or insurance adjuster of the accident and your resulting injuries. Depending on your insurance policy, there may be a time limit for you to report these injuries. It is best to speak to an insurance agent as soon as possible. 

3. Gather All Damages 

Expenses incurred from a car accident are called damages. Examples of damages are medical bills and the costs of repairs for your vehicle. To receive proper compensation for these expenses, be sure to gather and organize all documents and receipts in one place. An attorney can help you identify the extent of your damages.

4. Contact a Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyer 

A car accident attorney will assist you with all aspects of your case. They will collect your medical records, the police report taken at the accident scene, and any other necessary documents and evidence. A lawyer will also help calculate the total costs of your damages to ensure you’re compensated fairly.

5. File an Injury Claim

An injury claim is the best method to recoup damages from your car accident injury. A trusted personal injury law firm can help you file a personal injury claim with your insurance company or sue the at-fault party. 

Protect Your Health and Legal Rights to Compensation Today

All car crash victims deserve the chance to protect their health and safeguard their right to l compensation. If you believe you’ve suffered a car accident injury, please seek medical care as soon as possible. Once you begin the road to recovery, contact experienced attorneys who can start building your personal injury case. At David Bryant Law, we’re here to help you. 

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David G. Bryant is certified to practice in all state courts in Kentucky, and federal courts in the Eastern and Western districts of Kentucky, Southern District of New York, Southern District of West Virginia, Northern District of Ohio, Middle District of Tennessee, and Western District of Pennsylvania. He is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.