Common Car Accident Injuries

Common Injuries Seen in Car Crashes

In 2019, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety reported a car accident every 7.2 minutes. This resulted in 91 people every day suffering a car accident injury. The severity and type of injury depend on multiple factors, including vehicle speed, seat belts, and airbag deployment. Also, the kind of car accident is significant (i.e., rear-end, head-on collision). If you have ever witnessed a car crash or seen the damage to a car, it is easy to see why injuries occur. Common car accident injuries can range from broken bones to spinal cord injuries to damage of internal organs. Therefore, it is vital to seek medical attention after a car accident, even if one does not feel like they have any injury. The adrenaline and emotional trauma from the car crash can make it difficult to appreciate any harm that occurred to your body.

Although one can have a wide array of injuries from a car crash, these are the common injuries seen following a car accident.

Head Injuries

During a car accident, the head can move with great force due to the quick deceleration from impacting another car. There are also many objects such as the side window, steering wheel, and airbag that the head may contact during an accident. Car accident injuries to the head can be as minor as a scrape or cut. However, severe injuries such as concussions and traumatic brain injuries can occur and cause life-long effects. Furthermore, if you experience any symptoms such as dizziness, headache, vomiting, or loss of consciousness, it is essential to be evaluated by a doctor to obtain proper treatment.


A neck sprain/strain commonly referred to as whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Of all neck injuries sustained during motor vehicle accidents, whiplash is the most frequent type of injury. Whiplash accounts for 28.7% of all car crash injuries. The symptoms of whiplash can range from neck pain and headache to numbness and weakness of arms and legs. As a result, it is crucial to be evaluated by a healthcare professional for this injury. A doctor can identify concerning signs and symptoms that may indicate a more severe neck injury. Fortunately, most whiplash injuries will heal without problems within a month of the car accident.

Scrapes and cuts

During a car accident, broken glass and flying objects can become projectiles that, upon hitting the skin, cause cuts and bruises. Also, airbags that deploy can impact the head and chest, causing cuts and abrasions. These common injuries can range in severity from minor scrapes to deep lacerations needing stitches. However, many of these scrapes and scratches will heal without issue. It is essential to watch for signs and symptoms of infection. Thus if any redness, swelling, drainage, or fever is noted, a doctor’s evaluation is needed to begin treatment.

Chest Injuries

Common car accident injuries of the chest include broken ribs, collapsed lung, internal bleeding, and damage to internal organs. These injuries can often lead to the need for hospitalization and surgery after a car accident. Also, the recovery time is often long and can result in significant time away from work during recovery. Therefore, if you develop any shortness of breath, lightheadedness/dizziness, or shallow/fast breathing, seek medical attention.


The force the body experiences in an auto accident can cause significant injuries to the arms and legs, including broken bones/fractures. There are two general types of fractures, simple and compound fractures. Compound fractures occur when the broken bone pierces through the skin and is exposed to the environment. These fractures require emergent surgery and have a much higher risk of complications. In addition, severe fractures can be life-altering injuries with long-term implications.

Soft Tissue Injuries

The many tendons and ligaments in the body are all at risk of injury during a car accident. One of the most common car injuries is a tear of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in the knee. This often occurs when the knee hits the dashboard of the car. Like most ligament and tendon injuries, the symptoms usually include swelling, pain, and impaired function. However, the seriousness of these injuries can vary, and if not treated early, they can result in significant dysfunction and slower healing.

Internal Injuries

Motor vehicle accidents commonly cause injuries to internal organs. Flying objects cause these or the body to hit an object, such as the steering wheel or airbag. The force needed to stop the body by the seatbelt during high-speed accidents can cause significant injuries. The chest and abdomen are often common places for these injuries. However, the damage may not be apparent at the time of the car accident. Therefore it is vital to monitor your symptoms after a car accident. If you develop any abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, or difficulty eating, it is crucial to seek medical attention.

Emotional Trauma

The sudden and traumatic experience of a car accident can have lasting effects on your mental health. Often one can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This can result in significant impairments to your daily life. Additionally, one can develop anxiety when returning to driving or when riding as a passenger. Fortunately, these symptoms improve over time. However, for a select few, they can become severe disorders. Therefore, obtaining help with emotional trauma is as important as seeking treatment for physical injuries from a car crash.

Although this is a list of the most common car crash injuries, there are many other injuries that one can experience. Many of these injuries may not be easily noticed at the time of the crash. Sometimes it may take up to a few days to a week for symptoms to show. Therefore, seeking medical attention immediately following a car accident is important. Also, one should continue to monitor any additional symptoms that may arise after a motor vehicle collision.