5 Most Common Injuries in Auto Accidents

You get behind the wheel for work, when running errands, or for so many other reasons. You probably never stop to think about the very physics of driving. When two objects collide, the energy of the moving object is transferred to what it collides with. In a car crash, that energy can transfer to you. The car may be stopping, but the transferred energy is going to have you moving around with some force.

There are so many things that can happen, and the type of crash determines what injuries you receive. Your head may whip forward, hit the visor or windshield and snap back. If you’re T-boned, you may find your body propelled sideways to the seat next to you. A seat belt and airbag can only do so much to protect you. If your vehicle rolls, your seat belt is likely the only thing that keeps you from tumbling around like a rag doll.

In any crash, it’s likely you’ll suffer injuries. Hopefully, they’re minor. Even minor injuries can be debilitating, however. These are the five most common injuries received during car accidents.


Contusions are simply bruises. Some of the common areas to see these bruises are on the torso where the seat belt grabs and holds. It’s normal to see bruises across the pelvis and up the belly to the shoulder. You’ll also find contusions on the knees and legs from the force of the dash being pushed inward or the steering wheel against the thighs.

There’s little you can do for contusions. Ice packs will help ease swelling. Doctors may recommend over-the-counter NSAID pain relievers to help with swelling and discomfort.

Fractures and Sprains

Fractures of the arms and/or legs are common. Arms and fingers are especially common as most people grip the steering wheel tightly during a crash. The impact of the airbag hitting or pushing back the hands and arms often leads to broken bones. Legs are also impacted as the hood crumples and dash and steering wheel get pushed into the cabin. Bone fractures and breaks may require a cast or splint and use of crutches or a wheelchair if the injury is on the legs.

It’s possible that you’ll avoid having broken bones, but you may end up with strains and sprains instead. The muscles or ligaments stretch suddenly and cause injury that can feel severe without actually being a bone break. In most cases, you’ll use an elastic bandage for support and be ordered to take it easy.

Head Injuries

In a crash, your head will move forward and back as the impact occurs. Sometimes, the head will hit the windshield or collide hard with the headrest. It may move to the side and hit the passenger or driver’s side window with a lot of force.

As the head moves around, the brain can bounce against the skull causing swelling or bleeding. This can be very dangerous. Concussions are the most common type of brain injury and occur when the brain’s blood vessels and nerves are damaged after a blow to the head. Concussions require rest. Bleeding and swelling may need surgical intervention.

Spinal Injuries

Herniated discs and vertebral compression fractures are examples of spinal injuries occurring during a car accident. This is why EMTs put you in a neck brace and spinal board at the scene before you’re moved. It’s to prevent these injuries from worsening.

A herniated disc occurs when the disc between your vertebrae bulges or ruptures. Think of a disc as a gel pack. There’s a very tough outer layer that keeps the gel inside. The disc absorbs impact between the spine’s vertebrae. If that disc is injured, it presses against the nerves found in the spinal canal. That pressure causes pain. In most cases, a herniated disc will heal with rest and the use of NSAID pain relievers. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed.

Vertebral compression fractures occur when the vertebrae in the spine fracture due to a fall, car crash, or sports injury. Bed rest is possible, but a back brace may be recommended to keep the spine stabilized while the vertebrae heal.


Whiplash is a tricky injury. Scans usually can’t detect it. It’s a soft tissue injury that can lead to headache, dizziness, and stiffness. It’s caused by the sudden movements forward and back during impact. It may not appear on the day of the accident, which makes it frustrating. It can take several days for the symptoms to appear.

If whiplash is diagnosed, you’ll probably be told to wear a cervical collar for several weeks and to slowly work on physical therapy exercises. NSAID pain relievers are used to help with pain and stiffness.

Always Call a Lawyer to Discuss a Settlement Offer

Never accept a car insurance company’s settlement offer without first talking to an attorney. The settlement may seem fair, but it takes an expert to know if the offer is too low. You deserve a fair settlement that covers your lost income, medical bills, and replacement or repair of your car. You deserve to get this money without having to haggle with an insurance company. Carpenter & Zuckerman are experts in personal injury cases and help you get a fair settlement.

Carpenter & Zuckerman holds the distinct honor of having the most verdicts in California four years running. It doesn’t hurt to talk to a lawyer about your auto accident. Consultations are free. Call 888-CZR-FIRST or get help through the firm’s chat support. Don’t settle by taking what’s offered, let us help ensure you’re treated fairly.

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