Common Injuries in Car Accidents

37,000 injury accidents happen every year in the US. In this article, breaks down the most common injuries sustained by car accidents victims.

Common Injuries in Car Accidents - 37,000 car accident-related injuries occur every year in the United States.
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Common Injuries in Car Accidents 

Car accident data reveals that more than 1.7 million car crashes resulted in injuries to drivers and passengers in the United States in 2021. In this article, we cover the most common types of car-accident injuries, including their causes and the effect they have on the human body. 

Applying this knowledge could make you a more conscientious and informed driver as well as help you to get the medical attention you need when an auto accident occurs.

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Key Takeaways

  • Whiplash, head injuries, and chest injuries are among the most common injuries caused by car accidents.
  • Airbags can cause injuries in some cases.
  • You may have compensation claims against multiple parties as a passenger in a car crash.
  • MedPay coverage can help with the medical expenses incurred because of car accident injuries.

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Common Injuries in Car Accidents

When a car crashes into another vehicle or a stationary object, such as a guardrail, tree, or building, it stops suddenly. This rapid deceleration applies uncontrollable and violent forces to the driver and passengers, causing the majority of car-accident-related injuries.

Following are some of the common types of injuries that a car crash may cause:

Whiplash and Soft Tissue Injuries

A rear-end collision, or a crash that causes a sudden deceleration in the speed of a car, may cause the heads of its occupants to suddenly move forward and then quickly snap backward in a whipping motion. The sudden and forceful movement can stretch ligaments and muscles beyond their normal range of movement. 

Soft tissue injuries like whiplash can take months or years to heal, causing neck pain, shoulder and back pain, and limited range of motion. Treatment may include prescription medication and physical therapy. Adjust the headrest of your seat so it’s close enough to the back of your head to limit excessive movement in case of a crash.

Chest Injuries

These types of injuries occur when the force of a collision with another vehicle or with a stationary object causes your body to slam against a hard object or surface such as the steering wheel. 

Although late-model cars have an airbag located in the steering column that deploys in a crash, you still may sustain a chest injury if it malfunctions or if you drive an older car that is not equipped with the airbag. 

Ironically, the force of a deploying airbag may cause bruising to the chest area. It can also cause other types of impact injuries to the chest, such as broken ribs, collapsed lungs, or internal bleeding and other internal injuries. 

Using the seatbelt and shoulder harness can minimize the risk of an impact injury to the chest by preventing excessive movement of your body in a car crash.

Head Injuries

Striking your head against a hard surface, such as a side window, dashboard, or parts of the car’s frame, can cause lacerations and contusions to the face and head area. It can also cause injury to the brain. 

An injury to the brain can occur when the force of a collision causes your brain to move and strike against the interior of the skull. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion, which is a milder form of TBI, can cause dizziness, loss of memory, impaired concentration and judgment, and other symptoms that may be life-threatening. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBI is a major cause of disability and death. A doctor should examine you after an auto accident to determine whether you suffered a TBI even if you do not have symptoms right away. 

Using a seat belt and shoulder harness to keep you securely in your seat in case of an auto accident may prevent a head injury with brain damage and other serious consequences.


Shattering glass, airbag deployment, and sharp or jagged metal caused by a car crash can cause cuts and scrapes. A doctor should look at lacerations as soon as possible after a crash to determine if sutures or other forms of treatment are needed to prevent or minimize scarring and disfigurement.

Injuries to Limbs

Car crashes may cause accident victims to sustain injuries to their arms, hands, legs, and feet. Common injuries to limbs include lacerations, bruises, sprains, and broken bones. 

It’s natural to use your arms and legs in an effort to brace yourself for the anticipated impact in a motor vehicle accident, but doing so may result in injury to one or more of your limbs. Serious injury to a limb may result in the need for its amputation, so you should see a doctor immediately to have your injuries evaluated and treated.

What Else?

Other common types of injuries caused by vehicle crashes include herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and other types of back injuries and spine injuries requiring immediate medical care.

Physical injuries are not the only types of injuries that car accident victims develop. Research of the effects of serious motor vehicle accidents shows that car accident victims are at risk of developing psychological and emotional disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you are injured in a car accident, you may have the right to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses from the drivers responsible for causing the crash. A free consultation with a car accident lawyer can provide you with advice about your rights and how to enforce them.

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Passenger Injuries

As a passenger injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may have the right to make a claim for compensation against all those whose careless or reckless conduct caused the crash, including the driver of the car that you occupied. 

For example, if your car was traveling at high speed in the rain and could not stop in time to avoid another vehicle making an illegal turn, a personal injury lawyer that you consult may conclude that you have a claim for compensation against both drivers and their insurance companies.

Something else that passengers injured in auto accidents need to know about is medical payment coverage or simply “MedPay.” Insurance companies offer it as optional coverage unless you live in only a few states requiring MedPay coverage for all motorists.

MedPay coverage covers the out-of-pocket medical expenses of drivers and their passengers injured in auto accidents. MedPay covers the costs of medical treatment up to the coverage limits of the policy regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident.

Airbag Injuries

Airbags are designed to work along with seatbelts and shoulder harnesses by inflating when they sense a moderate to severe car crash. A chemical reaction creates a gas that rapidly inflates the airbag.

Airbags deployment takes less than a second to restrain passengers and drivers and prevent them from being injured. Still, an occupant of a vehicle who is too close to an airbag as it deploys may sustain injuries from it, including the following:

  • Burns
  • Bruising
  • Concussion and TBI
  • Bone fractures
  • Internal bleeding
  • Hearing impairment

You can reduce the risk of being injured by a deployed airbag by always wearing your seatbelt and shoulder harness. Airbags work in combination with the vehicle’s restraint system and not as a substitute for it.

There have been situations when an airbag failed to deploy properly because of a malfunction or defect attributable to its manufacturer. If you suffer injuries because of the deployment of an airbag, contact a personal injury lawyer and arrange for a free consultation. 

You may have a right to sue the drivers of the vehicles involved in the crash to recover compensation for your injuries, but you may also have the legal right to sue the manufacturer of the airbag and the manufacturer of your vehicle for injuries caused by a defective or malfunctioning airbag that does not deploy or deploys improperly.

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