A car accident can cause many different types of injuries, ranging from minor all the way up to catastrophic and possibly fatal. Generally speaking, there are two different categories of injuries resulting from car accidents:
- Impact injuries: These are caused by the victim being slammed into part(s) of the car.
- Penetrating injuries: These are caused by objects penetrating into the victim.
Some car accident injuries heal naturally or after a routine course of medical treatment. But other more severe injuries can require multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery, leaving some victims with lifelong aftereffects. These variations are what determines the amount of financial compensation the victim will need.
The mechanics of the accident will determine which type of injuries result. For example, how fast the car was going when it crashed, which direction the victim happened to be facing when impact occurred and the direction of the crash. Any one of these can make a huge difference.
There are other factors that can minimize injuries, like using a seatbelt and the deployment of airbags. If a victim fails to make use of safety precautions while driving or riding in a vehicle, it may result in less damages being awarded under the comparative negligence principle.
Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
A high-speed car crash can cause the driver to strike their head on the steering wheel. And the driver and/or their front-seat passenger striking their head on either the windshield or the side window. They can also end up with facial cuts, scrapes, bruises and broken bones as well as brain damage. A severe strike to the head can cause a serious head injury, like a concussion or traumatic brain injury, which could be permanent.
One of the most common car accident injuries is whiplash. This is caused by the head and neck being suddenly jerked back and forth, which typically occurs in rear-end collisions. As a result, the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck are damaged. The severity of whiplash varies widely, depending on details of the accident as well as the victim’s health. In milder cases the victim will commonly suffer from pain and swelling in the neck and shoulders. Also, car accident victims have been known to suffer from temporarily paralyzed vocal cords.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue is the connective tissue in our bodies, consisting of muscles, tendons and ligaments. These injuries are the most common type of car accident injury and take many different forms. Whiplash, which we’ve already discussed, is a perfect example of a soft tissue injury because it affects all three types of soft tissue. Car accident victims also frequently suffer soft tissue muscle damage in the mid- and lower back.
It’s common for car accident victims to end up with back injuries. Anytime the spinal cord is damaged there can be significant nerve impairment. This may take the form of less sensation and control over the movement of limbs and other body parts. Severe spinal cord damage can result in permanent paralysis.
Another common type of back injury resulting from a car accident is a herniated disk. These injuries are not as serious as head or spinal cord injuries, but they can still result in serious physical problems. People with a herniated disk can have muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling sensations as well as arm and/or leg pain.
Front-seat car accident victims can end up with injuries to their internal organs if their chest slams against the steering wheel, dashboard or some other internal part of the car. The impact can also cause broken ribs. Furthermore, drivers and passengers can be abruptly slammed against their shoulder harness/seatbelt, causing very serious contusions.
Drivers have only so much leg room in the average car, so an unexpected impact can slam their shoulders, arms and/or leg(s) and those of front-seat passengers against the dashboard, or the door. Passengers in the back can have their shoulders, arms and/or leg(s) slammed against the front seat, or the door. If the impact is severe, the victim can end up with shattered joints and/or broken bones in their limbs and/or shoulders. It rarely happens, but if the accident is extremely serious, the result could be an amputated arm or leg.
Cuts, Scrapes & Lacerations
Cuts resulting from a car accident often heal without much medical treatment. The driver and/or passenger(s) can get cut when things inside the car start flying around and forcefully strike the victim. People can even get cut by the deployment of the airbag. More serious cuts will need to be stitched up by a medical professional, causing more pain and suffering, not to mention higher medical costs.
Any loose item inside the car instantly becomes a projectile upon impact. These could be books, eyeglasses, cell phones, handbags, coffee mugs, a GPS mounted on the dashboard, and etc. If one or more of these items strikes your body, you could end up with cuts, scrapes, bruises, or other injuries.
At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have over 50 years of litigation experience. We have the expertise and a proven track record of success. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an automobile accident injury due to someone else's negligence, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.
Published on behalf of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley LLP. The information presented in this article is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.