12 Most Common Car Accident Injuries

You spend a lot of time in your car—commuting to work, dropping off the kids, and running errands. And the more time you spend on the road the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Defensive driving and regular car maintenance can protect you and decrease your risk. However, not all accidents are preventable.

Though every accident is different, statistics show some commonalities. These include the types of injury victims experience. Here are the twelve most common.

1. Brain Trauma

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from blunt impact or a piercing blow. In its mildest form, TBI manifests as a concussion that requires a few weeks of recovery. Severe TBI can cause changes in vision, speech, motor control, and concentration.

2. Chest Injuries

Chest injuries typically occur when a driver or passenger slams into the dash or steering wheel.
Seatbelts can usually prevent the most dangerous chest injuries, which can include cracked ribs or damage to the sternum.

3. Connective Tissue Injuries

Damage to the body’s connective tissues is the most common car accident–related injury. It may result in stiffness and soreness, but it can indicate a more serious underlying issue. Victims experiencing discomfort, especially lasting more than a week, should schedule evaluation by a physician.

4. Emotional Trauma

No matter how minor a crash is, there’s a risk of mental and emotional trauma. In extreme cases, victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, or depression. These conditions affect sleep, peace of mind, and ability to work. Victims experiencing severe anxiety or prolonged sadness should contact a mental health professional for assessment.

5. Head Injuries

Head trauma may occur with or without TBI. Head injuries include jaw pain, loose or lost teeth, eye trauma, or ear pain. If left undetected or untreated these injuries can develop into serious impairments later on.

6. Internal Organ Trauma

Trauma to the trunk of the body can damage more than the ribs. It may also rupture the diaphragm; bruise the liver, spleen, or kidneys; or fracture the pelvis.

7. Knee Impact Injuries

You may have experienced a knee injury just from stopping too suddenly. At higher speeds, knee impact can shatter the kneecap or damage the ligaments. These injuries cause high levels of pain and can cause permanent disability.

8. Lower Limb Impact Injuries

The other lower limbs may also experience trauma in a car accident. Victims’ legs, feet, ankles, and toes are particularly vulnerable. Common injuries include sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures.

9. Facial Trauma

If a driver or passenger’s head connects with the dash, steering wheel, seatback, or windshield, it can result in facial injuries. Serious injuries can affect the teeth, jaw, and skull. Other facial trauma includes scrapes, lacerations, and bruises. Minor facial trauma can be unsightly, but usually heals within a few weeks. Serious facial trauma may require medical attention over time.

10. Neck Trauma

When two cars collide, it results in a strong force which can cause neck trauma. This is especially common in rear impact crashes. Neck trauma may affect the spine, the throat, or both. This trauma may include:

  • Injury to the throat—Blows to the neck can crush or bruise the throat. This damages the larynx and trachea. Throat injuries inhibit eating, speech, and regular breathing.
  • Spinal disc injury—After an accident, discs in the neck may tear, bulge, or rupture. This can cause chronic pain.
  • Whiplash—Unlike disc injury, whiplash affects the soft tissues in the neck. Symptoms include pain, vision changes, and decreased range of motion.

11. Spinal Injuries

The discs that make up the rest of the spine are just as vulnerable as those in the neck. Spinal cord injuries (SCI) vary in severity. Small injuries decrease range of motion and cause pain while in specific positions. Physicians treat this pain through physical therapy and medication.

Severe SCI may cause partial or full paralysis, decreased sensation in a specific part of the body, or chronic pain.

One of the most effective ways to limit car wreck injuries is to wear your seatbelt properly. Don’t drive without your seatbelt on. Teach young passengers to wear seatbelts as well.

What to Do in Case of a Car Accident

After a car accident you may feel disoriented, angry, or frightened. The most important thing to do is to stay calm and contact the authorities as well as your lawyer. If you cannot make the call yourself due to an injury, have a passenger or bystander do so.

After an accident, even one in which you were at fault, you may have a viable personal injury or insurance claim. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer to discuss your options.

Some injuries do not manifest immediately. Keep tabs on your health after a car accident to ensure your continued safety and health.

When you’re on the road, practice safe driving techniques and communicate with other drivers to avoid accidents and injuries.