The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or NHTSA) claims that 1.175 million people per year suffer injury from auto accidents in the United States. These injuries vary depending on the type of accident and its severity. However, some injuries are more common than others.
Various factors determine the severity of an injury. They include the following:
Was the person wearing a seat belt?
Where was the car hit – the rear, side or front?
Was the person facing straight ahead?
Was the crash at a low-speed or high-speed?
Did the airbags properly go off?
When looking at car accident injuries, they can be divided into two categories – impact injuries and penetrating injuries. Typically, impact injuries are caused when the person’s body part hits somewhere inside of the car. For example, their knee might hit the dashboard or their head might hit the side window. Penetrating injuries occur when loose objects fly inside of the car and penetrate the person, often resulting in cuts and scrapes.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the connective tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons). This type of injury is the most common type among car accidents and comes in many forms.
“Whiplash” is one of the common types of soft tissue injuries and affects the neck and upper back. It is caused by sudden movements. The impact causes soft tissue injuries to vulnerable body parts such as the head, neck or back.
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Head injuries range from relatively minor to very severe. The sudden stop or movement of a vehicle can cause heads to go through unnatural and sudden movement. Like whiplash, this can cause strain in the neck, back and head. Sudden movement can cause the head to hit a side window or steering wheel, resulting in scrapes and bruising. In severe cases, that impact can cause deep lacerations. In the case of a closed head injury, fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged. This can lead to brain damage. In more minor cases, closed head injuries result in a concussion.
Chest injuries are another common car accident injury. They typically involve contusions or bruises. More severe cases involve broken ribs or other internal injuries. Drivers are often prone to chest injuries because they are right behind the steering wheel. There is very little room for movement because of their position.
Arm and Leg Injuries
Like the head and neck, arms and legs can move unexpectedly in the event of a car accident. They might slam against the door or window. Legs in particular have very little room for movement, which often results in them hitting the dashboard or the seats in front of them. These injuries can range from bruises and scrapes to sprains or breaks, depending on the severity of the collision.
Scrapes and Cuts
Car collisions often result in flying loose objects. This includes cell phones, cups, purses, books, etc. When directly impacting you, these objects can cut your body and cause injury. The severity of these cuts and scrapes vary from minor to extreme blood loss that requires stitches.
It is important to note that many injuries are not apparent right after an accident. Some take days, weeks or even months to surface. Regardless of how you feel after a car accident, seek medical attention to be safe.