The injuries that you suffer in a car accident can vary from minor to extremely severe. Some are life-threatening or even fatal. Serious injuries can drastically alter your life and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Even minor injuries can impact your life in the short term. Recovering compensation for them in a personal injury claim is important.
What are some serious injuries that you can suffer in a car accident?
Some types of serious injuries that you can suffer in a car accident include:
- back injuries,
- head injuries,
- neck injuries,
- internal trauma,
- dismemberments, and
- severe cuts and lacerations.
Even among these types of injuries, though, there is a spectrum of severity. Some back injuries are catastrophic injuries that can leave you paralyzed. Other back injuries are relatively minor.
Some of these injuries prove to be fatal. In 2019, the last year the data for car accidents was not influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, there were 6,756,084 car accidents that were reported to the police. These crashes, many of them high-speed traffic accidents, hurt 2,740,141 people and killed 36,355.1
Getting the compensation that you need and deserve from the insurance company after one of these crashes often takes the legal help of a car accident lawyer.
Back injuries are some of the most severe car accident injuries you can suffer. In serious auto accidents, you can suffer a spinal cord injury. These conditions frequently leave victims paralyzed or with significant nerve damage. In the worst cases, they can be fatal.
Other examples of serious back injuries from car accidents are:
- fractured vertebrae in the spinal cord,
- displaced vertebrae, also known as spondylolisthesis,
- herniated discs or bulging discs,
- other forms of damage to the spinal discs, and
- injuries to the facet joints between spinal bones.
These injuries lead to other severe medical conditions, like:
- chronic pain,
- nerve damage or pinched nerves,
- loss of movement or motion,
- lost strength,
- degenerative spinal disorders,
- sciatica, and
Head injuries are also a serious type of injury that you can suffer in a car crash. These include brain injuries that can be extremely debilitating or even fatal. Some examples of head injuries are:
- traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs,
- brain contusions,
- brain penetrations, and
- fractured skulls.
In some severe accidents with lots of force involved, you can suffer multiple brain injuries from the collision. These injuries are known as coup-contrecoup brain injuries, and cause two injuries to your brain:
- one at the location of the impact from the outside force, and
- another at the other side of your brain when the outside force pushes it against the inside of the skull in a concussion.
Concussions are likely the most common brain injury you can suffer in a car wreck. They occur when the force of the crash makes your brain hit, or concuss, the inside of your skull. The force of that blow inside your skull can cause numerous medical conditions, including:
- brain damage,
- memory loss,
- blurred vision,
- confusion, and
The extent of these symptoms can vary widely. In some cases, they are minor and pass after a few days. In other cases, they are debilitating and last for years.
Concussions can also cause a brain contusion, which is a bruise on your brain. That bruise can cause more serious medical conditions, including:
- blood clots, and
- bleeding in the brain.
Some brain injuries are the result of other medical conditions caused by the car crash. These are also called secondary brain injuries or acquired brain injuries. An example is when a crash causes a significant injury to your lungs, and the subsequent lack of oxygen causes brain damage.
Neck injuries share some of the same characteristics as back injuries, as both involve the spinal cord. They also often come alongside brain injuries, as the whipping action that generally causes a neck injury in a side-impact or a rear-end collision will also cause a concussion.
Some common but serious neck injuries are:
- slipped or herniated disc,
- dislocated vertebrae,
- pinched nerves or other nerve damage,
- sprains, strains, or torn neck muscles,
- fractured cervical spine, also known as a broken neck, and
- injuries to the facet joints in the neck.
Many of these injuries can cause debilitating medical conditions, including:
- chronic and severe neck pain, and
- loss of movement.
Serious car accidents can also cause significant internal injuries, as well. They can happen from the force of the impact or even from the tension of the seatbelt against your chest and lap. There is a wide variety of types of serious internal injuries that you can suffer in a car crash, including:
- broken ribs,
- collapsed lungs,
- internal bleeding,
- severe whiplash, and
- organ damage.
Some of these injuries are life-threatening. Worse, they may not be apparent at the scene of the accident. If they are only discovered in the emergency room, it can mean that the medical care they demand has been delayed.
One of the most traumatizing and severe injuries that you can suffer in a car accident is dismemberment. Losing a body part is a life-altering injury. Possible dismemberments include losing a:
- foot, or
Even if the dismemberment did not happen during the crash, medical conditions from other injuries can require amputation later on.
While the lost limb itself is a huge injury, it also often causes other medical conditions, like:
- emotional distress,
- posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
- phantom pain,
- nerve damage, and
- loss of blood.
Another serious and traumatic injury that can occur in a car accident is a laceration. The force of the collision can break glass as well as the plastic and metal pieces that make up the motor vehicles involved. The sharp edges of these pieces can pierce, scrape, or cut your body and cause a life-threatening loss of blood. If you do not get immediate emergency medical care for these serious injuries, they can be fatal.
Even if you do get the emergency medical attention that you need to recover from a serious laceration, the cut can leave you with a significant disfigurement or scar. This can lead to:
- emotional distress,
- PTSD, and
- painful reminders of the traumatic crash.
The scarring is not all external, either. Deep cuts from a car accident can also cause the buildup of scar tissue, which can lead to:
- lost movement,
- decreased range of motion, and
- loss of strength.
What are some common car accident injuries that are minor?
Most injuries sustained in a car accident are relatively minor, though. While they can be incredibly painful and debilitating in the short term, these injuries are not:
- permanent, or
- disabling over a long period of time.
Some of the most common minor injuries from a car accident are:
- soft tissue injuries, and
- broken bones.
Just because they are minor, though, does not mean that they are trivial. They can still be painful and can ruin months of your life. You still deserve compensation for them. A personal injury attorney can help you get it.
Soft tissue injuries
One of the most common injuries that you will suffer in a vehicle crash is a soft tissue injury. Some examples are:
- whiplash injuries,
- bruises and contusions,
- strained or torn tendons,
- sprained or torn ligaments, and
- pulled or torn muscles.
These injuries can range from minor to significant. For example, whiplash is a chest injury that can be moderately painful for a few days or debilitating for months or even years after the crash.
Broken bones are also common car accident injuries. Some common bones to break during a motor vehicle accident include:
- finger, and
- nose, chin, or other facial bones, often from the impact of the airbag or steering wheel.
Just like with soft tissue injuries, some broken bones can be serious injuries or cause other medical conditions. For example, a broken rib can pierce other internal organs. Even when they are not so severe, though, they can still be painful and can lead to months of recovery and costly medical treatment.
What compensation am I entitled to after an auto accident?
Regardless of whether you suffered serious or minor injuries from a car crash, you are entitled to compensation for your losses from the at-fault driver. That compensation should cover all of your losses that stemmed from the crash. These include your:
- medical bills,
- lost wages,
- lost earning capacity, if your injuries were serious and will prevent you from earning what you could, before the crash,
- loss of consortium for your family members,
- pain and suffering,
- loss of life’s enjoyments,
- property damage, and
- emotional distress for disfiguring injuries.
Even for minor injuries, that can quickly run into the tens of thousands of dollars. A car accident attorney from a reputable law firm can help you recover what you deserve.
If the accident led to a fatality, a personal injury lawyer can help the car accident victim’s loved ones file a wrongful death claim.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Quick Facts 2020,” (July 2022).