Head to Toe: Common Car Accident Injuries 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report that examined the cost of one year of crashes. NHTSA found that crashes cost Americans $340 billion in 2019, and these accidents resulted in approximately 36,500 deaths, 4.5 million injuries, and damage to 23 million vehicles.

A car wreck is often a traumatic and overwhelming experience, especially when there are injuries. One minute you’re on a commute, and the next, you’re dealing with law enforcement, insurance adjusters, and healthcare providers.

It’s also normal not to realize immediately if you have any injuries. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush that follows a traumatic event like a car accident can mask pain and make it difficult to know if you’re hurt.

Remember: No matter how minor or severe your crash is, you must seek medical attention and gather evidence for potential insurance claims. This is especially true because some injuries like whiplash or concussion may not present symptoms immediately and can take a few days to develop. By doing so, you can get on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

This blog outlines some of the most common injuries that can occur after a car wreck and explains how the severity can affect the outcome of your case.

How to Check for Injuries After an Accident

Injuries from car accidents can be separated into two main types: impact injuries and penetrating injuries. Impact injuries happen when a person’s body collides with parts of the car’s interior, such as hitting the dashboard, the seat rest, or the side window. Penetrating injuries, on the other hand, are caused by broken glass or objects flying inside the car resulting in cuts and scrapes.

After a wreck, take a moment to assess your overall condition. Then plan to visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Some common signs that you may have been injured include:

  1. Pain in the head, neck, or back
  2. Bruising or swelling
  3. Limited range of motion in your head, arms, or legs
  4. Numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes
  5. Headaches or dizziness
  6. Fatigue or drowsiness
  7. Shortness of breath or chest pain
  8. Disorientation or confusion
  9. Blurred vision
  10. Ringing in the ears
  11. Memory problems

Head Injuries From Car Accidents

Head injuries are common in car accidents and can vary significantly in severity. These injuries can profoundly impact a person’s physical and cognitive well-being.

Some of the most common head injuries include:

  • A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, memory loss, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can be temporary and improve over time. Seeking medical attention is crucial to rule out any more severe injury and monitor for potential complications.
  • A contusion is a bruise on the brain caused by a direct impact on the head. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, and seizures. These injuries can be more severe than concussions and require more intense treatment and monitoring.
  • Hematoma is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels. Hematomas can develop in the brain or the brain’s surface due to a skull fracture or bleeding in the brain. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, and loss of consciousness. These injuries can be severe and can have significant long-term effects.
  • A skull fracture is a break in the skull bone. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
  • Penetrating injuries occur when an object, such as flying debris, enters the brain. These injuries are the most severe type of head injury from car accidents. They can be life-threatening, requiring immediate medical attention.

Ear Injuries from Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause outer, middle, and inner ear injuries. A direct impact to the head, rapid deceleration, and exposure to loud noises often cause these injuries.  It is important to note that some ear injuries may not be immediately apparent. However, they can have a life-long impact if it results in hearing loss or tinnitus.

Lacerations, abrasions, and contusions to the external ear or earlobe are all examples of outer ear injuries, also known as auricular injuries. These injuries may cause pain, swelling, and bleeding.

Middle ear injuries, also known as tympanic membrane injuries, can include ruptures or tears of the eardrum. These injuries can lead to conductive hearing loss, vertigo, nausea, and ear ringing (tinnitus).

Inner ear injuries, also known as cochlear injuries, can include damage to the cochlea, which is responsible for translating sound waves into electrical signals sent to the brain. Inner ear injuries can cause sensorineural hearing loss, a permanent loss of hearing. This injury can also cause vertigo, balance problems, and ear ringing.

Facial Injuries

Windshields may shatter during a car wreck. The glass can cause various injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries, such as facial fractures and disfigurement. Additionally, eyes can be injured by debris that may cause corneal abrasions or even blindness.

Burns are another type of facial injury that can occur in car accidents. These burns can be caused by the airbag deploying, flames, or contact with hot surfaces in the car. 

Mouth injuries such as a broken or dislocated jaw, teeth and tongue injuries, and lacerations can also occur in a car accident. These injuries can cause severe pain and may lead to long-term effects, such as speech impediments.

These facial injuries can also lead to emotional pain, suffering, and a decreased quality of life.

Neck and Back Injuries

Car accidents can cause a variety of neck and back injuries due to the forces involved in a crash. The most frequent among them is whiplash, which is caused by sudden movement during an accident that damages the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This injury can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving the neck.

Additionally, dislocations and fractures in the neck or spine can occur, which can significantly impact a person’s physical and cognitive functioning. The impact of an accident can also cause a herniated disk, a condition in which a disk between the vertebrae bulges out or ruptures. Accidents can cause spinal cord injuries in severe cases, resulting in a complete loss of function below the injury site.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common in car accidents because the crash’s impact can make the upper body move in unexpected ways. This can damage the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding it.

Some common types of shoulder injuries that can occur in a car accident include a dislocated shoulder, fractured collarbone, rotator cuff tears, and a fractured scapula. These injuries often cause pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. In some cases, they require surgery.

Chest Injuries

Chest injuries may not be immediately apparent in a car wreck because the symptoms of chest injuries can be subtle.  At other times, they are apparent.  Bruising from a seatbelt is common.

Internal bleeding from chest injuries such as rib fractures, pulmonary contusions, and aortic injuries might be invisible or accompanied by external symptoms such as cuts and bruises.  A medical professional should closely monitor these injuries since they could be life-threatening.

Furthermore, chest injuries can make breathing difficult or cause chest pain. Pneumothorax (a lung puncture that may cause the lung to collapse) and hemothorax (a tear in the lung’s blood vessels that may result in internal bleeding) are two examples of these injuries.  These symptoms may not appear quickly or may be mistaken for other issues, such as anxiety or panic.

Abdominal Injuries

During a car accident, the force of the impact can cause the body to be thrown around, leading to the abdomen being hit by the steering wheel, dashboard, or other parts of the car. The seatbelt, designed to keep the occupants safely in their seats, can also cause injuries.

Some of the most common abdominal injuries include blunt trauma. This happens when the abdomen is hit by a hard object, such as the steering wheel or dashboard, leading to damage to internal organs and internal bleeding. 

When an object, such as glass or debris, pierces the abdomen, it causes penetrating trauma. The injury can cause cuts to internal organs and severe bleeding. Ruptured spleen, bowel or bladder injury, and pelvis fractures are common abdominal injuries that can occur in a car accident.

Arm and Leg Injuries

In an accident, the body may be in a position where the arms and legs are particularly vulnerable to injury. For example, passengers’ legs can break if they cross their feet during an accident.  Or if an airbag deploys and the driver’s hands aren’t positioned properly on the wheel, it can lead to broken or sprained fingers. The dashboard, door, or other car parts can hit the knee, causing ligament tears, meniscal tears, and contusions.

Some of the most common injuries from car accidents are dislocations, fractures, sprains, strains, and lacerations. In severe cases, an arm or leg may have to be amputated because of the injuries sustained in a car accident.

Crush Injuries

Crush injuries can happen in car accidents when a person’s body is trapped or compressed between two heavy objects, such as the car frame and another vehicle or a stationary object. The force of the impact can cause severe damage to bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. Crush injuries can also cause internal bleeding and compartment syndrome–a condition in which pressure builds up within a confined space and cuts off blood supply to the extremities.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, like a car accident. Car wrecks can be traumatic experiences resulting in physical injuries, emotional distress, and a sense of vulnerability. A car accident’s sudden and unexpected nature can be overwhelming and leave individuals feeling a sense of fear, helplessness, and powerlessness.

Common signs and symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, difficulty sleeping, irritability, being easily startled or anxious, and avoiding activities that remind the person of the traumatic event.

A car accident’s physical and emotional trauma can also lead to traumatic memories, which can be distressing and impede an individual’s ability to process and recover from the experience. These memories can be triggered by sights, sounds, or smells associated with the accident, such as gasoline or a car screeching. This can make it difficult for individuals to drive or even ride in a car again. Some people may even experience symptoms of depression or anxiety.

How Does Severity Affect the Settlement?

When determining the settlement amount, the injury’s degree of impairment or severity  will be considered. For example, suppose an injury is long-term and significantly alters the person’s life. In that case, the settlement will likely be higher than a temporary injury. This is because more severe injuries typically require more extensive medical treatment and can be permanent and long lasting. They not only have a greater effect on a person’s ability to work and earn a living, but they can also cause long-term or permanent disability. 

For example, a minor injury such as a sprained ankle may result in a settlement that covers the cost of medical treatment and a small amount of pain and suffering. However, a severe injury such as a traumatic brain injury can result in permanent cognitive and physical impairments. This kind of injury could lead to a much higher settlement that covers the cost of lifelong medical care, lost wages, and future earnings.

The settlement amount will depend on each case’s specific circumstances, including the injury’s severity, the insurance policy of the at-fault party, and the strength of the evidence.  An experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate the case and advise on the potential settlement amount.

How Tuley  Law Can Help

At Tuley Law, we understand the impact a car accident can have on your life. The aftermath of a crash can be overwhelming, from dealing with insurance companies to managing medical expenses.  That’s why we’re here to help. Our experienced team of attorneys can guide you through the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (812) 625-2149 or fill out the online contact form.

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