What are the most common injuries from car accidents?

Airbag explodes on steering wheel

More than 3 million people are injured each year in car accidents across the country. Injuries from accidents vary immensely due to the circumstances of the collision. Some injuries may resolve quickly with no medical treatment but other more serious injuries might become more permanent and result in physical disability.

Some of the factors that determine the type and severity of injuries are:

  • Whether the person was wearing a seat belt
  • What area of the car was hit
  • Where was the occupant facing in their seat
  • What speed was the vehicle traveling
  • If the car had airbags

Impact injuries and penetrating injuries are two broad categories that can describe injuries from vehicle accidents. Impact injuries are typically caused when a part of the person’s body hits a part of the interior of the car. Penetrating injuries are typically cuts and scrapes.

The most common type of injury resulting from a car accident is a soft tissue injury. Soft tissue includes injuries to the body’s connective tissue like muscles, ligaments and tendons. Whiplash type injuries are included in this category because the muscles and ligaments are stretched due to sudden movements on the head and neck. Mid-back and low-back muscle sprains are also common soft tissue injuries.

Loose objects inside the vehicle can cause cuts and scrapes when a collision occurs. Sometimes these cuts and scrapes are minor, but more serious ones can result in loss of blood and may require stitches. Airbags can also cause cuts and scrapes if deployed in the crash.

Head injuries from car accidents can be relatively minor or very severe. Unexpected movement from a collision can cause the heads of occupants to experience sudden and unnatural movements. Strains as mentioned above may occur as well as scrapes, bruising and deeper lacerations. When a collision causes closed head injuries, they can range from less severe concussions to more severe brain damage.

Chest injuries from a car accident can include contusions, bruises, broken ribs or internal injuries. Chest injuries often occur due to the position of the steering wheel and the movement of the driver being thrown forward in a collision. The chest area can still experience a strong force when wearing a seat belt, which can cause severe bruising.

Injuries to arms and legs can occur depending on the area of the car that is impacted. Sometimes knees may hit the dashboard or arms thrown against the door. Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to arms and legs could be as minor as bruises and scrapes or more severe like sprains and breaks.