Crash Recovery: Common Car Accident Injuries to Watch


Three million people are injured in car accidents every year. While some of these car accident injuries aren’t serious, even seemingly minor car crashes can cause severe physical and psychological damage.

What’s more, not all injuries are apparent straight away. While injuries like cuts and broken limbs are evident from the moment of the collision, other common car accident injuries such as whiplash and internal damage can worsen over time. In some cases, you might not realize that anything is wrong until long after the crash.

But it’s much easier to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms that something is wrong if you know the kinds of injuries that can occur following a car accident. Here’s a round-up of some of the most common.

Spinal Cord Injuries

After a car accident, it’s important to stay where you are unless it’s unsafe to do so. This is especially vital if someone involved has incurred a spinal cord injury. These types of injuries can include nerve damage, medulla spinalis damage, herniated or bulging discs, bruising, or paralysis.

Since the spinal cord is central to the functioning of the entire body, damage to this area can affect other areas too. Some signs of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Tingling in an area of the body
  • Loss of feeling in an area of the body
  • Loss of motion in an area of the body
  • Paralysis

But, even without these more severe signs of a spinal-cord injury, you should see your doctor immediately if the car accident has affected your back or spine in any way.

Head Injuries

Head injuries can also be serious and require immediate attention from a doctor as a matter of precaution. Some signs of a serious head or brain injury include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Pupil dilation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of feeling in an area of the body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

That said, not all head injuries are serious. Mild head injury symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue or unusual drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Speech problems

Because it’s difficult to differentiate between serious and non-serious head injuries, seeing a doctor following a car accident is a must if you’ve injured your head in any way. In particular, if you experience nausea following a car accident, this is something you should take seriously. Nausea can be a symptom of concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Soft Tissue Injuries

A soft tissue injury involves damage to the body’s connective tissues. These include tendons, ligaments, and muscles, as well as the many other fibrous and supportive tissues that cushion your skeleton and organs. Damage to the soft tissue is the most common type of injury resulting from a car accident.

Soft tissue injuries can take many forms, including:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Contusions
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion major joints)

Whiplash, damage to the soft tissues in your neck and upper back, is one of the most common car accident injuries. A whiplash injury occurs when the sudden impact of a collision causes the muscles and ligaments in your neck to stretch and snap in an unnatural way.

Unfortunately, whiplash is also one of the most undiagnosed and overlooked car accident injuries. This is because whiplash doesn’t always appear right away. Pain and soreness can often develop over time, and many sufferers find that their symptoms take a while to start appearing. This means that many people give statements to insurance companies about their injuries before they realize the full impact of the car accident.

Internal Injuries and Organ Damage

Apart from your brain, all your major organs are located in your torso. As such, impact damage here during a car accident can cause serious injuries. Although internal organ injuries might not always be obvious from the start, significant damage to your organs could prove fatal.

Abdominal pain and nausea after a car accident can be key signs of internal organ damage. During a car accident, your abdomen can slam against the steering wheel or dashboard, causing injuries to critical organs such as the liver or kidneys. Chest injuries are also common after a car accident and can range from painful bruises to broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Certain types of bruising can also signify a severe internal injury. While most bruises are minor, bruising along with vomiting, nausea, and fever may suggest internal bleeding or blood clots. Contusions to your upper torso combined with chest pain after an accident can be a sign of bruising on the heart muscle or a myocardial contusion or bruising on the actual heart muscle. For this reason, you should never take a bruise at face value following a car accident.

Broken Bones, Cuts, and Scrapes

Depending on the nature of the collision, you may sustain bruises, scrapes, and cuts in a car accident, or may even break your bones. Broken bones are often easy to diagnose and treat, not least because the pain and damage are both instant and obvious. Although, more serious crashes can result in crushed or severely damaged limbs which may need more intensive treatment and possible surgery.

Loose objects, such as eyeglasses, cell phones, and GPS systems may cause cuts, scrapes, and minor bruises if they get thrown around inside the car’s interior.

Common Car Accident Injuries

As this guide to the most common car accident injuries shows, even some of the most serious injuries are not immediately obvious. And sometimes, symptoms that might seem mild, such as nausea or bruising, could be signs of severe internal damage.

For this reason, car accident victims should always seek medical treatment straight away. Even if you’re not in any pain or discomfort right after the crash, a medical examination can check whether you’ve sustained the kinds of injuries that may develop over time.

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