Car accidents happen across the United States every day. The injuries people sustain in these accidents can range from mild to severe, depending on the circumstances of the crash. In one year alone, over 2.7 million Americans were injured in car accidents.
What are the most common types of car accident injuries? While any type of bodily injury can occur in a car accident, some happen more frequently than others. The most common types of car accident injuries include head injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations, scrapes, cuts, burns, and whiplash. Any of these injuries could lead to extensive medical bills, weeks or months of missed work, and other losses. An Augusta car accident lawyer can help you hold the liable party accountable for causing your injuries.
Common Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
Car accident injuries happen daily, but they can significantly impact a person’s life forever. Some of the most common types of car accident injuries include:
A head injury is an umbrella term for any type of injury that occurs in the scalp, skull, or brain. The severity of a head injury varies based on the level of impact and where on the head the injury occurred. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that a head injury can be as mild as a bump or moderate to severe if there is a concussion or open wound. Other severe types of head injuries include skull fractures and internal bleeding.
The different types of head injuries that someone could sustain include:
- Concussion: This is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) when someone loses consciousness or awareness for any period of time. Concussions typically occur when there is a blow, bump, or jolt to the head. A concussion can affect your brain function, even though they are temporary. Symptoms of a concussion include headache, ringing in the ears, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, and sometimes blurry vision.
- Skull fracture: A skull fracture is any type of break in the cranial (skull) bone. These fractures can happen when a blow to the head is strong enough to break the bone. Symptoms of a skull fracture include swelling and tenderness where the blow occurred, bruising on the face, and bleeding in the nostrils or ears.
- Intracranial hematoma: Intracranial hematoma is a collection of blood within the skull. Car accidents can cause this type of injury when blood bursts inside the brain upon impact. Symptoms of an intracranial hematoma include headache, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and slurred speech. It is critical to treat this injury quickly before it becomes life-threatening.
If the head injury is severe enough, it could cause significant disabilities that affect the accident victim for the rest of their life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. If someone sustains this type of injury, it can permanently alter their strength, mobility, and other body sensations below where the injury occurred.
Spinal cord injuries fall into one of two categories:
- Complete: When all sensations and mobility are completely gone below the injury site
- Incomplete: When there is some sensation and motor activity below the injury site, which can vary from person to person
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury include loss of movement, loss of sensation, loss of the ability to control the bladder or bowels, difficulty breathing, and pain.
Some accident victims are permanently paralyzed after a spinal cord injury. Paraplegia is when paralysis affects all parts of the trunk, pelvic area, and legs. Quadriplegia is when paralysis affects the arms, hands, legs, neck, feet, and pelvic area—essentially everything below the injury site.
Whiplash is commonly associated with car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by forceful and rapid back-and-forth neck movement. Usually, whiplash resolves itself within a few weeks. But in some cases, accident victims with whiplash deal with the symptoms and complications for a long time.
The symptoms of whiplash vary from person to person, but common whiplash symptoms include:
- Pain or stiffness in the neck
- Neck pain worsens when there is movement
- Lowered range of motion in the neck
- Frequent headaches
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
In more severe cases, people with whiplash could experience blurred vision, tinnitus, memory problems, depression, or sleep disturbances. It’s helpful to see a doctor right away if you exhibit whiplash symptoms after a car accident. They could prescribe you medication and neck exercises to help alleviate the pain.
Like most car accident injuries, burns can range from mild to severe. For instance, you can get a mild burn if a body part rubs too intensely on the seatbelt during the collision. This type of burn is painful but typically heals within a week or two.
Burns are categorized from first-degree to third-degree. First-degree burns (like the example above) only affect the top layer of skin and usually heal quickly. Second-degree burns reach the second layer of skin, causing blistering and more intense pain. Third-degree burns can permanently damage tissue, muscle, and nerves, are extremely painful, require extensive treatment, and often leave lasting scars.
When you sustain a burn injury, it’s critical to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. A doctor can examine the burn to determine its severity. If the burn is severe enough, you could get sent to a burn center for more intensive treatment.
Burns can happen in car accidents in many ways, including:
- When the airbag deploys
- If there is an explosion inside the car or nearby
- Encountering burning debris from the accident
- Encountering hot metal from the vehicle
- If harmful chemicals leak during or after the accident
You should also get any chest injuries checked out by a doctor quickly. The car accident could have harmed the organs near your chest, such as your heart or lungs. See a doctor immediately if you have trouble breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain, or your regulation of fluid changes. A doctor can detect if anything more significant is going on and get you treated quickly.
There are many types of injuries that your chest could sustain in a car accident, such as:
- Fractured or bruised ribs
- Punctured lungs
- Cracked sternum
While seatbelts are worth wearing because they can save your life, they can also cause chest injuries. The steering wheel or dashboard can also harm your chest if the vehicle’s airbag doesn’t deploy in time.
Car accidents can cause a person’s limbs to hit a variety of objects at high speeds, from parts of the car to people or things inside it. If an arm, leg, or other body part bumps into something else with enough force, a bone (or multiple bones) could break. Broken bones require medical attention to heal correctly. So, when you see the symptoms of a broken bone, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The symptoms of a broken bone include:
- Swelling or bruising in the impacted area
- Intense pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Limited mobility or the inability to move a limb
If you display any of these symptoms at the accident scene, have the emergency medical team assess the area for you. Afterward, follow up with your primary care provider or urgent care for further assessment.
Scrapes and Cuts
When a collision happens, anything that is loose in the car can fly through the air. If a flying object hits your body, you could sustain a scrape or cut—some of which can be severe. In most cases, a medical professional can treat a scrape or cut at the accident scene. Severe scrapes and cuts may require stitches.
Potential Compensation After Car Accident Injuries
Whatever type of injury you sustain in a car accident, you could recover compensation if your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. The severity of your injury plays a major role in how much compensation you could receive
In car accident cases, injured people can typically recover the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses: These are any out-of-pocket expenses related to treating your injuries, including if you received care in an emergency room, rode in an ambulance, needed diagnostic tests, had surgeries, took medications, or required ongoing doctor visits. If you still need medical care, an attorney can help calculate your future medical expenses as well.
- Lost income: If you had to miss work while recovering from the accident, you could recover compensation for the income you lost during that time, including salary, bonuses, tips, and benefits. You can also include future income if you cannot return to work in the same capacity.
- Property damage: If the liable party’s insurance policy doesn’t cover the entire cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, you could include the remaining amount in a claim or lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering: If you suffered through severe physical pain or mental anguish because of the car accident, you could include pain and suffering damages in your claim or lawsuit.
- Emotional distress: If you experienced any negative psychological issues after the car accident, you could include emotional distress damages in your claim or lawsuit. These damages compensate you for issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or sleeping problems.
An attorney can calculate all your damages to determine the estimated value of your case, then fight to recover the compensation you need to be made whole again after the car accident.
Reach out to a Lawyer Today if You Have Car Accident Injuries
For more information about what the most common types of car accident injuries are and how you can fight for justice, contact a car accident attorney. It’s best to work with a firm that has handled many car accident cases and can guide you through every step of the legal process. The right firm will be there for you every step of the way.
Many law firms offer free, no-obligation consultations to car accident victims who suffered injuries. You can speak with a team member, ask questions, and learn more about your options. Many firms also work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no upfront or out-of-pocket fees. You only owe attorney’s fees if you win your case. Reach out to an Augusta personal injury lawyer.