Types of Car Accident Injuries

Auto accidents are a leading cause of injuries in the United States. About 2.34 million people were injured in the more than 6 million car accidents that police reported in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although crash injuries vary depending on the situation and people involved, some common injuries include traumatic brain injury, back sprains and strains, whiplash, broken bones and emotional distress. Here is a general overview of frequently documented auto accident injuries.

Head Injuries

Head injuries are both common and one of the most serious injuries in traffic collisions. Impact with the dashboard, steering wheel or window at relatively slow speeds can leave bruises, scrapes and deep lacerations. At fast speeds, the impact can cause hearing problems, vision loss and skull fractures.

In serious crashes, individuals could suffer closed head injuries that cause damage to the fluid and tissue in the skull. The severity of such traumatic brain injuries can range from a mild concussion, which is the most common, to severe brain damage, coma and even death. Long-term medical care and extensive treatment are often necessary, which could lead to substantial financial hardship.

Back Injuries

Fractured vertebrae, herniated disks, sprains, strains and spinal cord damage are common lower-back injuries. A herniated disc can cause a lot of problems, including tingling sensations or numbness, pain in the legs or arms and muscle weakness. Spinal cord damage is more severe and can significantly affect the nerves, reducing control of and sensation in the arms, feet, hands, legs or other parts of the body. Sometimes, spinal cord damage results in paralysis.

Neck and Chest Injuries

Although pain, swelling and even temporary vocal cord paralysis are fairly common, whiplash injury is possibly the most well-known neck injury from a car accident. Whiplash is the result of sudden movement stretching the ligaments and muscles in the neck and upper back so far that the soft tissues sustain damage. Rear-end collisions most frequently cause whiplash because the impact sends the bodies of the car occupants forward while their heads remain stationary.

Chest injuries after a crash typically include bruises and contusions. However, more severe chest injuries include broken ribs, collapsed lungs, internal bleeding and organ damage. Traumatic cardiac arrest is also a risk for people with heart conditions. All vehicle occupants could experience these injuries because the force that the collision puts on their bodies smashes them against their seat belts. Drivers can also experience these injuries if they collide with the steering wheel.

Other Bodily Injuries

Bruises, cuts and scrapes can occur to the arms, hands, feet and legs when they collide with other objects in the car. These injuries can range from mild to serious, causing blood loss and requiring stitches. The occupants' limbs can also be thrown against the door beside them or into the dashboard or seat in front of them, resulting in bruises, broken bones, cuts or sprains.

Emotional Distress and Psychological Injuries

The injuries people suffer after car accidents aren't always visible. Those who have emotional distress generally experience anxiety and stress reactions in certain situations, especially when they're in a car. While these reactions go away for most people, they don't for those who develop post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric condition that makes individuals relive their traumas in flashbacks and nightmares. PTSD sufferers may feel estranged from family and have trouble sleeping, both of which hinder their daily lives. Counseling is a common treatment for PTSD and other mental injuries after a traffic collision.

Getting Legal Help

Legal help is available for those injured in car accidents due to the negligent, malicious or reckless actions of others. Those who want to seek compensation for physical or mental injuries could consider talking to a car accident lawyer. Since the laws for personal injury compensation differ from state to state, an experienced accident lawyer ould provide personalized answers to questions based on their specific situations and lead them through the legal process.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Additional Auto Accident Articles

Search LawInfo's Auto Accident Resources