Car accidents cause damage. The most visible damage is the destruction your vehicle sustained during the collision. But, whether you’re involved in a tiny fender bender or a severe T-bone at an intersection, your body, just like your car, is likely in need of repair.
4.4 million people in the U.S. are injured seriously enough to require medical attention, but not everyone seeks it. It’s important to know how to tell if you have a concussion, so you can go to the doctor to receive treatment. Here are 13 of the most common car accident injuries.
Most minor accidents will cause some form of bodily harm. A collision can slam your torso against the seat belt and knock your knees together, which will leave a few bruises. Bruises are rarely serious and will heal in a couple of days unless you bumped your head.
If you bumped your head, then you may have a concussion, which is a serious condition that affects your memory and cognitive abilities. Even minor injuries should warrant a doctor’s visit.
While hitting your head is the most likely cause for a concussion, you can develop a head injury when experiencing whiplash. Concussions are classified as “mild traumatic brain injuries” because the sudden movement to the neck and head can cause the brain to shake.
Some concussion symptoms are noticeable right after the impact, such as dizziness, headaches, confusion, trouble focusing, and sometimes a loss of consciousness.
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck causes severe neck strain. This type of injury is typically associated with fender benders because drivers have little time to prepare or adjust themselves to reduce body trauma.
Whiplash usually develops within days of the injury and can include symptoms like headaches, loss of range of motion in the neck, dizziness, fatigue, and tenderness in the back and arms.
Since brain trauma is one of the most common injuries in a vehicle accident, unless you’ve only suffered from whiplash, you’ve likely sustained damage to your face in some way. If your airbag doesn’t activate on impact, total or partial blindness or deafness is possible.
Among the most frequent face injuries include a broken nose, skull fractures, a dislocated jaw, broken teeth, damage to the eye socket, bruises and cuts, and a punctured eardrum.
The force of the injury combined with targeted impact can lead to dislocation. Although shoulder and elbow dislocation is the most common, areas of the spine, fingers, hips, knee, jaw, foot, wrist, and ankle also dislocate. Most of the time, a joint dislocation will be felt immediately.
While a dislocation may not seem serious, it could cause deformity or joint instability. A doctor or orthopedist can help you relocate your joints and rule out other complications.
One of the most common areas reported is a lower back injury from a car accident. You may experience damages that range from minor sprains and strains to a fractured vertebra or herniated disc. Whiplash in the lower back happens if your lumbar vertebrae twist suddenly.
If you’re experiencing tingling in the arms, legs, or persistent muscle weakness, you may have damaged your thoracic spine, which is the portion of the spine that connects the chest and ribs.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most severe motor vehicle accident injuries typically involve the spinal cord, although most modern cars are designed to protect this area during a crash. Minimal damage may include bruising, but more permanent impairment can occur if you’ve severed your nerves or spine.
Sometimes, the outcome of these injuries could result in a loss of reflexes or feelings, infection, pneumonia, blood clots, or spinal fluid leaks. Either partial or total paralysis could occur.
Depending on the position of your airbag and steering wheel, you may experience a chest injury after a vehicle accident. If you’re wearing your seatbelt incorrectly or not wearing one, you could slam harder into the dashboard than you otherwise would have if wearing a proper seat belt.
Cardiac arrest and collapsed lungs are possible when your chest cavity experiences a high level of traumatic force. Damage to other internal organs and the abdomen are pretty common.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Even in car accidents where no one was seriously injured or killed, about 40% of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD. It’s common for survivors to feel stressed when driving or avoid getting in a car altogether after an accident, which can greatly affect their quality of life.
PTSD also manifests outside of the car, as images or sounds associated with the collision could trigger anxiety or nightmares. Psychologists and therapists can help you combat PTSD.
Not all accidents cause a person to develop a fear or anxiety related to driving so severely that they can’t maintain a normal life. However, most accident victims will feel a general sense of stress or sadness while they either recover from their injuries or think about the crash.
While this is normal, it’s essential that you pay attention to your symptoms to recognize if your anxiety is persisting to where it’s unmanageable. If that’s the case, speak to your doctor.
A car crash can put your skeleton under stress that it wasn’t naturally meant to withstand. Both the position of your body and the speed of the car can determine whether you fracture or break your bones during the accident. Osteoporosis or poor bone health will increase your risk.
However, your broken bones could puncture parts of your organs and skin, causing internal bleeding. A clean break or fracture will take 1-2 months to heal, typically without complication.
Internal trauma is sometimes difficult to diagnose, but knowing the symptoms of internal bleeding could save your life. Black, tarry stool and blood in the urine are telltale signs of internal bleeding. Rapid heart rate, sweaty skin, and overall weakness are more subtle signs.
The only way to know for sure is to get an X-ray, a CT scan, or an angiography. Like a concussion, internal bleeding is life-threatening and requires immediate treatment.
Without a doubt, wrongful death is the most frightening result of any motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, 1.35 million people die in road crashes each year, and nearly 3,700 lost their lives daily on the roads. Accidents are the 3rd leading cause of death for Americans.
When you step into your vehicle, it’s important to pay attention to the road at all times and to never drive drunk. Being impaired makes you 4.5 times more likely to experience a fatal crash.