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Common Car Accident Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Published: March 1, 2023
Last updated: February 29, 2024

A car accident has the potential to not only damage your vehicle but cause personal injuries. Injuries from a crash can be minor or more serious depending on several factors, such as seat belt usage and proper airbag deployment. According to Freedman Law, there are many causes of car accidents, such as distracted driving, speeding, and dangerous road conditions. With that in mind, It’s important to be informed about common car accident injuries and know how to prevent them, so you can keep yourself safe in the event of an accident.

Brain Injuries

Several types of brain injuries can occur in car accidents, with concussions being one of the most common. Other brain injuries include skull fractures, contusions, acquired brain injuries, and penetrations. A brain injury may be minor and heal on its own, or it can cause serious and lasting brain damage.

Concussions

A concussion occurs when the head and brain move rapidly due to an outside force. It often happens because, in a crash, a car will suddenly slow down to an abrupt stop, throwing the person’s body forward and moving their brain against their skull. Concussions may result in a loss of consciousness, but not always.

Skull Fractures

A skull fracture occurs when there is a break in the skull’s bones. It occurs when an impact causes a blow to the head that is strong enough to break the bone.

Contusions

A contusion is another word for a bruise. In this case, the brain gets bruised during a sudden impact. It might be caused by a side, front, or rear collision when you hit your head.

Acquired Brain Injuries

If a car accident causes a loss of oxygen or blood flow to the brain, an acquired brain injury might be a result. In other words–if a crash leaves you unable to breathe for several minutes, you are at risk of severe brain injury. These can occur without any direct impact on the head or brain.

Penetrations

As the name suggests, penetrations occur when an object gets lodged into the brain and directly penetrates the cranium. The mortality rates for this injury are high.

These injuries are better avoided by wearing a seatbelt, which is already required in every state except for New Hampshire. In addition, it’s incredibly important not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This not only makes your risk of a crash much higher but can make the severity of the injury worse.

Neck and Back Injuries

Common neck and back injuries sustained in a crash include whiplash and herniated discs:

Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries from an accident. It occurs when your neck is rapidly moved back and forth due to an outside force. Whiplash might lead to other injuries, like broken ligaments.

Herniated discs

When a person’s spinal cord is irritated by one of the vertebrae pushing into the spinal canal during an impact, a herniated disc is the result.

To reduce the severity of neck and back injuries, it’s important to adjust your car seat and headrest. You want to have your head and neck supported so they don’t jerk too much in a sudden impact. The top of your headrest should be in line with the top of your head.

Chest Injuries

Common chest injuries sustained in a crash include broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Broken Ribs

Broken ribs might result from hitting the steering wheel in a sudden impact.

Collapsed Lungs

A collapsed lung results from air entering the thoracic cavity creating pressure on the lungs. This can occur when the chest is injured in an accident. 

Leg and Knee Injuries

Common leg and knee injuries include fractures and torn ligaments.

Fractures

Many different kinds of bones can break, or fracture, during an accident. However, bones in the leg (tibia and fibula) are very susceptible to breaking during a crash, such as when the legs are trapped in the area between the floor and the dashboard.

Torn Ligaments

A torn ligament occurs when the joint has a tear or a twist in the connective tissue. It can lead to intense pain and may require surgery to fix.

Help prevent leg and knee injuries by adjusting your steering wheel angle and seat position. Your seat should be at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel to avoid an airbag injury.

Sometimes car accidents are an unavoidable part of life. When you are hit by another car or crash into another one, you won’t have the time to react to prevent an injury. But by being prepared and understanding the dangers of injuries, you can take more precautions to mitigate the severity of an injury.

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