An endless number of injuries can occur in a car accident, but some are more common than others.
Bruising, Cuts, and Soft Tissue Injuries
Almost any car accident will result in some bruising, and many people will come away with cuts or scrapes on their bodies. Loose projectiles, broken glass, or a heavy impact can lead to cuts. Swelling may also occur, but rest and ice can help speed up recovery time. Some cuts may require stitches if they are deep, longer than a half-inch, or don’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm pressure.
Damage to the body’s connective tissues, such as muscles, tendons, or ligaments, are known as soft tissue injuries. For example, strains and sprains, but the most common is whiplash. Whiplash is the leading injury in rear-end or side collisions and occurs when there is a sudden jolt to the neck and head, causing it to move rapidly back and forth. Whiplash can be severe, and symptoms may not appear for a day or more after an accident.
Head and brain injuries are frequently caused by the head hitting the steering wheel or side window. Brain injuries can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that result in permanent cognitive impairment. TBIs occur when a sudden, violent blow or jolt to the head causes the brain to collide with the skull. Car accidents may also lead to skull fractures, broken bones, or facial lacerations and bruises, potentially causing lifetime or long-lasting impairments or disfigurement.
Neck and Back Injuries
The majority of neck and back injuries from a car accident are caused by the force of impact that creates a whipping motion. As a result, the spine suffers stress, and a common reaction to that is for a disc to herniate or rupture. Discs act as the cushion between vertebrae in the spine, and when one is herniated or ruptured, it can be excruciating, limit mobility, and may lead to more severe back issues in the future. Physical therapy and surgery are not uncommon steps to healing.
Seatbelts are life-saving, but in some cases, can cause movement or lacerations on internal organs. These injuries may not be immediately apparent, but internal bleeding can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Any signs of bruising or cuts on the abdomen are worth having evaluated.
Broken bones are also incredibly common after a collision. Parts of the body can come into contact with the vehicle, putting bones under stress that they cannot withstand. Depending on the break and severity, surgery may be required and possibly hardware to help the bones heal.
In some cases, the most significant injury from a car accident is emotional distress and mental conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. The experience can be traumatic, especially if someone was seriously injured or killed. Some people may feel extreme guilt if they were partially responsible. Common signs of mental distress include flashbacks and trouble sleeping.