Most Common Car Accident Injuries

Most Common Car Accident Injuries

Dealing with motor vehicle accident injuries can be challenging. From sprains and whiplash injuries to fractures and traumas, significant damage may be experienced by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident.

If you’ve been in a car accident, you may already have an idea of how frightening and jarring it can be. However, motor vehicle accidents can cause not only physical but psychological injuries as well.

What are the most common injuries you might sustain in a car accident? Are you entitled to any compensation? If yes, how much? Can you handle the injury claim yourself? Or do you need the help of a lawyer?

This article discusses some of the most common car accident injuries, how they happen, and what steps you should take if you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash.

Through this article, you will also understand the severity of different injuries and how a personal injury lawyer can effectively navigate the claims process.

If you’re injured in a crash and have questions about your eligibility for compensation, getting help from a lawyer is one of your best options.

Personal Injury Lawyer Search is your go-to source for expert legal help concerning injury cases. Browse this website and learn about the benefits, such as free consultations, when working with a car accident lawyer.

Hospitalizations From Crashes

Three of the most common motor vehicle-related injuries treated in the emergency room are sprains or strains, bruises or contusions, and scrapes.

When you’re injured in a vehicular accident, you can get anything from minor scrapes and scratches to serious and even life-threatening conditions like nerve damage and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Vehicular accidents can also lead to broken bones or damaged soft tissues. Your neck, feet, and hands are prone to injuries, and even what seems like a minor mishap can cause brain damage and paralysis. Facial injuries also pose risks to your brain and eyes.

Hot liquids or vehicle components can also burn your skin and cause disfigurement.

Regardless of the type of injuries you sustain from a car crash, consider seeking help from a car accident lawyer.

Categories of Car Accident Injuries

Car accident injuries are broadly categorized into impact and penetrating injuries. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Impact injuries: These happen when you strike any part of the car’s interior or get ejected from the vehicle, causing you to hit the ground or other objects outside. One example is when you hit the car’s side window and sustain a head injury.
  • Penetrating injuries: These typically occur when objects outside the vehicle strike its occupants. Wounds from a shattered window are examples of such injuries.

Because these injuries can be severe, you must seek medical evaluation to determine the settlement amount for a claim.

For minor injuries, evaluation helps determine the extent of harm. If you have moderate injuries like fractures, you may need a thorough assessment to determine the need for further treatment.

Meanwhile, severe injuries, such as those involving spinal cord damage or TBI, may need detailed evaluation to determine any long-term implications. Such evaluations can help influence compensation negotiations and rehabilitation plans.

Head and Back Injuries

Head and back injuries are among the most severe consequences you can get from a car crash. For instance, brain bleed or brain hemorrhage may worsen over time and prove fatal if not treated promptly.

Meanwhile, back injuries involving the spine and spinal cord are prevalent in motor vehicle accidents. If you sustain such injuries, you’ll likely encounter substantial medical expenses over your lifetime.

Learn about the different head and back injuries in the following sections.


Concussions are mild TBIs that can result from motor vehicle accidents, even those you consider minor wrecks. When you hit your head or experience whiplash during a crash, you may suffer a concussion.

Brain Injuries

Did you know that TBIs cause about 50,000 deaths and 2.8 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits annually?

TBIs occur when your brain sustains damage from a penetrating object or blow to the head. The symptoms often take time to manifest, making a proper diagnosis challenging.

What happens when you suffer from TBI? You’ll likely require ongoing medical attention following an incident. Meanwhile, children who sustain such injuries may experience brain development disruption.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries often happen due to car accidents resulting from someone else’s negligent or reckless driving.

Such injuries happen when you experience a blow to your spine, such as when your vertebrae get dislocated or fractured. The resulting tears or bruises in your spinal cord tissue can often lead to paralysis.

Back Injuries

Your back isn’t built to sustain heavy impact. In other words, that body part is susceptible to various types of injuries, such as the following:

  • Strain or “pulled back”: This injury is due to damage to your back tendons and muscles.
  • Back sprain: This injury involves stretched or torn ligaments.
  • Herniated disc: This results when a sudden impact causes the inner portion of your vertebrae disc to protrude.
  • Ruptured disc: This happens when the disc’s outer portion breaks open due to a forceful impact.
  • Pinched or compressed nerve: This injury happens when excessive pressure on your nerve causes chronic pain and impaired movement.

Chest and Neck Injuries

Suppose you’re involved in a car accident and thrown forward due to the impact. You may get bruises and other injuries on your neck and chest. Thoracic trauma or chest injury can also lead to significant health problems and even death, so you must take them seriously.


Has your car been struck at its rear end or made a sudden stop? Your head may be forcefully whipped in a back-and-forth motion. This motion is known as whiplash.

Even if you’re traveling as slow as 15 miles per hour (mph), you can still experience whiplash, regardless of whether you’re wearing a seatbelt during the accident. In more severe cases, you may suffer from disc injuries or cervical dislocation.

Heart Attack

If you’re 65 or older, the stress from a car crash can cause a heart attack. However, you may not immediately notice its symptoms after the accident.

Therefore, inform the medical staff or law enforcement in the vicinity if you suspect you may be suffering from this condition.

Also, tell your doctor if you aren’t feeling well, even if the accident occurred weeks or months ago.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Injuries to delicate parts of the body, such as ligaments, tendons, and muscles, are called soft tissue injuries. Common examples of such injuries are strains, bruises, and sprains.

Some symptoms you may experience from soft tissue injuries are as follows:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Swelling or soreness
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Back pain
  • Cognitive issues


Bruises are often minor injuries that heal in one or two weeks. In a car crash, your seat belt may occasionally cause bruising, even though this safety equipment is designed to help prevent severe injuries.

While most bruises are harmless, you should still monitor them, especially if you got them from a motor vehicle accident. They may indicate serious underlying issues, such as injuries reaching the bone.

Scars, Disfiguration, and Facial Injuries

You may incur disfiguring facial injuries from a car accident due to glass debris or forceful impact on the dashboard, steering wheel, airbag, or other solid objects in your car. Such injuries may require you to undergo surgery and leave you with long-lasting scars.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Some of the common leg and arm injuries you may get from car accidents include broken bones and dislocated joints.

However, the symptoms of these injuries may not always show immediately. Thus, you must consult your doctor after the accident.

The following sections discuss further the various car accident-related arm and leg injuries.

Broken Bones

Being in an automobile accident can result in broken ribs, ankles, wrists, legs, or arms. On severe occasions, you may even sustain a fractured pelvis.

The treatment usually depends on the severity of these types of injuries. For example, minor breaks require a cast, while more serious compound fractures may need surgery.

Dislocated Joints

Dislocation is when the bones meeting at a joint pull apart. Typically, you’ll notice dislocated joints immediately. But right after an accident, the chaos and confusion may cause you to overlook such injuries easily.

Pain in your joints can indicate a dislocation, even though the joint doesn’t look damaged at first.

Loss of Limbs

A severe car crash can cause you to lose a limb, either from the initial trauma or the complications that arise later. Because amputation or limb loss is a significant injury, you need immediate medical attention following an accident.

Wrist and Hand Injuries

Broken wrists or distal radius fractures are common in motor vehicle accidents. Depending on the fracture’s severity, you may need surgery and lengthy medical treatment to fix this injury.

Leg and Foot Injuries

Similar to wrist and hand injuries, ankle, foot, and toe sprains and fractures are common vehicular accident injuries. In serious car crashes, your toes and feet can even be severed.

Knee Trauma

Hitting any part of your car during a crash may cause you to receive knee injuries like bruises and multiple fractures. Your meniscus (knee cartilage) can tear if your knee gets turned or twisted suddenly.

Other Car Accident Injuries

After reading about the common types of injuries resulting from vehicle crashes, you may wonder if other auto accident injuries are not yet covered. The following sections discuss these injuries.


Vehicular accidents can cause you to come into contact with parts of your car that you usually don’t touch, such as extremely hot engine components or liquids, as these can cause severe burns.

Such injuries have the following categories:

First-degree Burns

These burns cause minimal damage. Your skin turns red but doesn’t have blisters.

Second-degree Burns

 These injuries cause damage beyond your skin’s top layer (epidermis). Blistering and skin thickening may occur, and you may need two to three weeks to heal such burns.

Third-degree Burns

These burns penetrate all skin layers and injure tissues and nerves underneath your skin. Such injuries take months to heal, and the function of the damaged body part may never fully recover.

Post-traumatic Stress

Car accidents don’t just affect you physically. Sometimes, they can cause you to be emotionally traumatized. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a genuine risk that can happen after a distressing event, such as a vehicular accident.

Because PTSD often manifests after an accident and may show no physical symptoms, diagnosing it may be challenging. Therefore, seek immediate help if you experience symptoms indicating PTSD.


Some severe conditions, like spinal cord injuries, can lead to paralysis. For example, a blow to your back may paralyze you due to spinal cord bruising or vertebral dislocation or fracture.

Paralysis typically causes you to be unable to move one or both arms or legs. Other effects of this injury include the following:

  • Spasms
  • Large reflex movements
  • Loss of feeling
  • Loss of movement
  • Inability to feel hot or cold sensations
  • Infertility
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chronic pain

Internal Bleeding

Car accidents can cause you to experience blunt force trauma, which can cause internal injuries like bleeding without breaking the skin. Such injuries can affect your muscles, bones, and organs.

You may not see the symptoms of this type of injury immediately, so it’s crucial to proceed directly to the emergency room after a car accident, even if you think everything is fine.

Penetrating Injuries

You may suffer penetrating injuries when a foreign object punctures your body. Loose objects like glass and small car components may be flung around during a car accident.

Penetrating injuries may be difficult to evaluate at the accident scene. Remember: if a foreign object punctures you and remains lodged in the wound, don’t attempt to remove it without medical assistance.

Pain and Distress

Have you ever felt emotional distress and physical pain following a car crash? Such accidents can cause depression and anxiety, which can disrupt your sleep patterns. Pain can also interfere with daily activities and cause you to lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed.

Anxiety and Depression

When you experience anxiety and depression due to a vehicular accident, you may find it challenging to get back behind the wheel.

Furthermore, physical injuries can lead to major lifestyle changes, which may cause you to become depressed.

As such, it’s essential to recognize that mental injuries are as serious as physical ones.

Five Common Causes of Car Accidents

In many states, distracted and reckless driving are among the leading causes of vehicular accidents. Drugs and intoxication are also common contributors.

Hence, despite being necessary in your daily life, your car can become a deadly weapon under certain circumstances.

The following subtopics discuss five common causes of vehicular accidents in the United States.

Reckless Driving

If you act aggressively on the highway, drive past the speed limit, or change lanes recklessly, the risk of ending up in a horrible accident increases. As a driver, always remain calm and collected to avoid unnecessary mishaps.

Distracted Driving

Have you ever tried texting, calling, reading, eating, or doing makeup behind the wheel? These actions can keep your focus away from the road. Being distracted while driving is among the largest causes of vehicular accidents for decades.

Intoxicated Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause you to get into a road accident. Moreover, intoxicated driving can lead to disasters involving boats, bikes, and other human-operated machinery.

To be safe, take a cab or give your car keys to your sober companion.

Poor Driving Conditions

While driving, you may encounter adverse conditions, such as fog, sleet, rain, and snow, that can cause a car accident. Even a thin sheet of ice can lead to a car collision. If hail comes down, consider postponing your trip to reduce driving risks.

Aside from weather conditions, wild animals on the road can also cause accidents. For instance, people in New York hit about 65,000 deer annually, especially between October and December.


Driving over the speed limit may be tempting sometimes, especially when you’re running late. However, many car accidents occur because of speeding.

To minimize or avoid accidents, consider driving below the road’s speed limit and prioritize your and others’ safety while you’re behind the wheel.

Car Accident Statistics

Based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, around 39,508 fatal car crashes occurred in 2021.

Additionally, approximately 42,939 people lost their lives on American roadways in the same year.

Among the most prevalent causes of these fatalities were speeding and drunk driving.

Another noteworthy statistic is that between 2020 and 2021, the number of car crash fatalities increased significantly in all but six U.S. states.

Montana had 213 deaths in 2020 and was considered the most dangerous state for drivers. It also had the highest rates for driving under the influence (DUI) of any place in the country, with 51% of all accidents in that state involving intoxicated drivers.

On the flip side, New Jersey was considered the safest state in the country, with low speeding, drunk driving, and fatal accident rates.

Types of Car Accidents

Your risk for injury or death in car accidents may vary depending on the vehicle you drive. According to the NHTSA, the percentages of people killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents were as follows:

  • 35% were inside passenger cars.
  • 27% were occupants of light trucks.
  • 20% were pedal cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-occupants.
  • 14% rode motorcycles.
  • 4% were inside large trucks or buses.

Head-on Collisions

A head-on collision is a risky vehicular accident since the crash concentrates all the momentum and kinetic energy of the vehicles into that collision. This increases the risk of fatal injuries among everyone involved.

If you get into one such collision, some of the most common injuries you may sustain are the following:

  • Whiplash
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lost limbs
  • Serious lacerations
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Brain injuries

Rear-End Crashes

A rear-end crash is when your car hits another vehicle’s back portion. Whiplash is a common injury you may sustain from this accident.

Whiplash typically happens when your body gets forcefully propelled forward while your head stays in place, causing neck pain and strain.

Other injuries caused by rear-end collisions are head traumas and soft tissue damage.

Side-Impact Accidents

If you’re on the side of the car where a collision occurs, you’re likely to suffer injuries from a side-impact accident.

This impact can cause severe and fatal injuries, especially when you have no solid barriers between you and your passengers.

Common injuries you’ll likely get from side impact crashes include injuries to the following:

  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Head and brain
  • Limb
  • Back
  • Soft tissue

Fatal Crashes

In motor vehicle accidents, life-threatening factors like severe burns, head injuries, and crushing injuries can cause fatalities.

In tragic circumstances, victims may get trapped inside the vehicle. They face the risk of burning from the hot components or bleeding to death from their injuries.

Rollover Crashes

If you drive a sport utility vehicle (SUV) or any automobile with a high center of gravity, you may have a high risk of rolling over. A rollover occurs when you’re cornering at high speeds, leading to a potential crash.

Common injuries associated with such crashes include head injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and soft tissue injuries.

Truck and Commercial Vehicle Crashes

What happens when you drive a small car and collide with a truck or any heavy commercial vehicle? You can imagine the devastating and possibly fatal outcome due to the sheer difference in size and weight of the vehicles involved.

In such a scenario, the heavier vehicle transfers its energy to the smaller car, which crashes or tips over. This forceful impact can result in injuries like broken bones, crushing injuries, exposure to harmful chemicals, and even death.

Things to Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident

Car crashes can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about them. The succeeding sections discuss what to do if you’re involved in a car accident in which you, your loved one, or a colleague is injured.

Check Before You Move the Injured

Is the car accident victim unconscious, unable to move, or in pain in some parts of their body? If so, do not attempt to move them. Instead, use warning lights, flares, or flashlights to warn other motorists of the incident.

Call 911 Immediately

Report the car crash to the authorities immediately, regardless of whether it caused major damages or a simple fender bender. Some states require you by law to do so. The investigating officers will write an accident report and document the crash.

But what if the authorities can’t come to the scene? In this case, proceed to a nearby police station and report the accident yourself.

Seek Medical Help

Even if you quickly walk away from a car crash, don’t assume you haven’t sustained injuries. To be certain, seek comprehensive medical assistance.

Some injuries, such as whiplash, hairline fractures, and traumatic stress reactions, might not be immediately visible. Remember that the initial shock can temporarily hide the symptoms of your serious injuries.

Attend All Your Medical Appointments

You can improve your chances of fully recovering from your injuries after a car accident by following your doctor’s instructions and attending all medical appointments.

These consultations can help you create a well-documented record showing the details of your injuries and required medical assistance.

What Are My Rights if I’m Injured in a Car Accident?

In states implementing an at-fault system for car crashes, you can file a claim against the responsible party for damages, regardless of how severe your injuries are.

If the other driver is at fault, you can pursue compensation from them or their insurance provider. However, determining fault may require investigating factors like the location of accident damage.

Different Types of Damages in Car Accident Injuries Claim

You can claim various damages in a car crash case. Damages are compensation you can seek for losses caused by the accident. Read the following sections for the different types of damages you can recover.

Medical Expenses From Car Crash

Medical fees are a large part of the claimable financial damages in a vehicular accident case. These fees include the accident-related expenses you incurred and the probable costs of future medical treatment.

Some examples of medical expense damages are the following:

  • Hospital admission
  • Medication
  • Ambulance services
  • Medical appointments
  • Surgeries
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Prosthetic devices

Income Losses Due to Injury

Because accidents can cause you to be injured or disabled, there’s a possibility that you can’t work permanently or temporarily. In such cases, you can recover damages for your lost income.

Suffering and Pain – Physical and Mental

Pain and suffering are the mental and physical trauma you experience after a motor vehicle accident. Because they’re intangible, they don’t have an immediate economic value.

Fortunately, you can recover damages for pain and suffering due to car injuries. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you present a convincing case for a higher settlement sum.

Loss of Consortium

Suppose an accident leaves you in a state hindering you from enjoying the normal relationship you previously had with your spouse. In that case, your spouse can file damage claims for loss of consortium.

Disfigurement From Car Crash

A severe car accident can leave you scarred or disfigured permanently. If you receive such injuries, you can file a personal injury claim to recover disfigurement damages.

Loss of Quality Life

Some vehicular accidents, including serious ones, can cause injuries that will render you permanently disabled and reduce your quality of life. Fortunately, tort law lets you claim and recover compensation for such losses.

If you think there are other ways to claim compensation for such injuries, work with a car accident injury lawyer to determine your action plan.

Tips for Managing Car Accident Injuries 

The following are some of the valuable tips that can help you following a motor vehicle accident:

  • Seek help first by calling the authorities and ensuring a report is filed
  • Request medical assistance immediately
  • Take photos and notes of the damages and injuries if you can
  • Keep all your documents, such as hospital bills and receipts
  • Work with a professional car crash lawyer from a reputable law firm

How Much Are Car Accident Injuries Worth?

How much compensation you can claim from a car accident depends on several factors, including how much damage you suffered.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average claim for bodily injuries after a car accident in 2020 was $20,235. Meanwhile, claims for property damage were reported to be around $4,711.

Meanwhile, a survey showed that between 2015 and 2020, the average settlement for car accident claims was $23,900. However, many of the survey respondents received only $10,000 or less.

Damages and Expenses You May Have

Your car accident injuries determine how much compensation you’re entitled to. When another driver causes the crash, and you get injured, you can claim the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages

How Compensation Is Determined for Automobile Accident Injuries

The amount of loss you suffered is a significant factor in calculating your vehicular accident compensation. However, some issues, such as the following, can affect the final settlement amount:

  • Whether you’re partly at fault for your injuries
  • How solid your case is, especially considering the evidence
  • Whether you want to settle or sue

How to Get Compensation for Your Car Accident Injury

Suppose you want to pursue a claim for your sustained injuries. In that case, you must negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company for a fair settlement or pursue a legal trial.

When choosing whether to negotiate a settlement or file a court case, consider the following topics to help you decide an action:

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is your state’s prescribed period to file a personal injury lawsuit or claim.

This statute encompasses various aspects, such as:

  • Getting immediate attention for injuries from the accident
  • Receiving medical care
  • Filing insurance claims

Check your state’s statute of limitations so you don’t inadvertently file your car accident claim too close or over the time limit. If your state’s statute is confusing, consult a lawyer for assistance.

Process for Filing Claims and Lawsuits

Aside from notifying the authorities about your car accident, you must inform your insurance company about the crash immediately. In such cases, your insurer can help you pursue a claim against the insurance company representing the other party.

Also, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case, especially if you sustain serious injuries.

Settlements vs. Verdicts

When determining how to get compensation for a vehicular accident, should you go for a settlement agreement or a court verdict? Learn about some key differences between these two options below:

  • A settlement occurs if the other driver’s insurance company accepts responsibility for the accident and you’ve negotiated fair compensation.
  • A verdict happens when both parties cannot reach a satisfactory agreement. The court will initially decide if the defendant is liable and then reward you with appropriate compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do I have to file a claim after injuries from car accidents?

The period to file a personal injury claim depends on your state’s laws. Each U.S. state has its statute of limitations specifying the time you’re permitted to take legal action.

For instance, in North Carolina, you have up to three years from the accident date to initiate a lawsuit against the liable party.

However, this deadline may be extended under specific circumstances. For instance, someone under 18 gets injured in a car accident caused by someone else. The victim can file a lawsuit within three years after the date they turn 18.

Additionally, the deadline can be extended if the defendant cannot be located or resides in another state.

2. Why do I need a car accident attorney?

Dealing with a car crash can be stressful, especially if you’re severely injured and have no time and experience handling legal issues like damages.

In these cases, a car accident attorney can handle your legal matters. They can help evaluate your case and determine whether legal proceedings or a settlement with the other party is appropriate.

An attorney can also guide you if you have difficulties getting a fair settlement amount from an insurance company.

3. How will I pay for medical treatment after a car accident?

Auto insurance usually shoulders at least a portion of your treatment cost. Your policy may also pay out, depending on your state. If the other party is responsible for the crash, their insurance should also cover your damages.

4. What if I’m a passenger or a pedestrian in a car accident?

Whether you’re a passenger or pedestrian, auto insurance typically covers you if you’re injured in a car accident. Therefore, your car insurance should at least partially cover your medical bills.

5. What is the most common pain after a car accident?

Neck, back, or shoulder pain are among the most common types of discomfort you can experience after a car accident. Pain in these areas can vary. You may notice them in one spot or feel shooting pain.

Regardless of the pain you feel, consult a doctor to determine the correct treatment.

6. What if my insurance company doesn’t pay enough to cover my medical bills?

If you receive an unfairly low settlement offer, that doesn’t mean you have no option but to accept it. You can still consider taking the following steps:

  • Remain calm and analyze the offer
  • Formulate a counteroffer
  • Provide a written response
  • Settle after you’ve reached maximum medical improvement from your injuries

Do you feel that the abovementioned steps take too much work to do yourself? Ask a personal injury lawyer for help before responding to a settlement offer.

7. Will hiring a lawyer cost me more than what I’m likely to recover?

Often, car crash lawyers will evaluate your case for free, so speaking to them about it shouldn’t cost you a dollar.

Furthermore, most lawyers charge on a contingency basis. This means you don’t need to pay upfront. Instead, the lawyer fees will be taken from the final settlement amount.


  1. Car accident statistics
  2. Car accident injuries
  3. Concussion syndrome
  4. How long do you have to report a car accident to your insurance?
  5. Soft tissue injury

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