Types of Car Accident Injuries
April 14, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Car Accidents
Car accidents involve a lot of crash energy. This energy goes into producing cracking plastic, bending metal, and shattering glass. But it also gets transferred to your body. As your body whips around during a collision, the forces you experience can tear your soft tissues and fracture your bones.
These injuries can cause significant pain. You may need reconstructive surgery to repair the damage and physical therapy to improve your chances of healing. In some cases, you may suffer permanent disabilities as a result of irreparable damage to your body.
The Physics of Car Accidents
Car accidents are one of the best examples of the laws of physics in action. When your vehicle collides with another vehicle, your body continues moving in the same direction and at the same speed as it did before the collision. It stops when acted on by an outside force, like an impact against your seat belt, steering wheel, or dashboard.
But every force produces an equal and opposite reaction. When your body hits the inside of your car, it pushes back. This reaction force injures your body by damaging the body tissues.
Another important law of physics tells you how much energy your crash directed into your body to injure it. The energy of a moving vehicle increases with mass and speed. This means a high-speed collision or a collision with a large, heavy vehicle will cause more severe injuries. This is why truck accidents often produce catastrophic injuries.
Finally, the injuries you suffer in a car accident will depend on the type of crash. The direction of the forces from a car accident depends on the nature of the collision. For example, the forces you experience in a side-impact collision differ significantly from the forces of a head-on crash.
The type of car accident will also reveal the effectiveness of your safety equipment. Manufacturers design front airbags to deploy only in frontal impacts like those in head-on crashes or the rear vehicle in a rear-end crash. Other crashes will not cause the airbags to deploy.
Similarly, seat belts restrain your body from whipping forward and backward. They also prevent you from getting ejected from the car. But they cannot stop your body from bending sideways in a side impact or angle collision.
Examples of Car Accident Injuries
Some injuries you might suffer in a car accident include the following:
In a rear-end crash, the two vehicles experience different forces, and their occupants suffer different types of injuries. The occupants of the front vehicle will get pushed back into their seats before bending forward as the vehicles come to a stop.
The occupants of the rear vehicle whip forward into their seat belts. But while the seat belts stop their bodies, they cannot stop the motion of their heads. The heads whip forward, bending and pulling on the neck.
According to a National Safety Council study, rear-end crashes are the most common type of crash but the second-least likely to cause death. Instead, rear-end crashes cause non-fatal injuries such as:
Concussions happen when your brain moves around violently in your skull. The pressure of the fluid surrounding the brain squeezes it and causes it to swell.
As a result, you may experience:
Concussions often heal within two months after your accident with rest.
Whiplash happens when your spine hyperextends due to the whipping of your head. The vertebrae separate, then crash together. Hyperextension and compression can strain your neck muscles, sprain your neck ligaments, and even herniate your spinal discs.
Upper Limb Injuries
Your instinct during a crash will be to use your hands and arms to brace yourself. You may grip the steering wheel or stretch your arms forward to stop yourself from hitting the dashboard or front seat. In either case, you can suffer fractures to your fingers, wrists, or arms.
Head-on collisions produce the same forces as rear-end crashes. But they involve much greater crash energies. As a result, you will experience more severe injuries such as:
Diffuse Axonal Injury
A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) happens when the long cells in your brain (axons) rip apart. This occurs when your brain whips back and forth so violently that the brain tissue stretches and tears. A DAI is a serious brain injury that will often produce permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.
Your spine will experience much more intense hyperextension and compression forces in a head-on crash. As a result, you are more likely to suffer a disc injury or fractured vertebra.
A broken back or neck vertebra will destabilize your spine. This injury also exposes you to the risk of a spinal cord injury. The broken vertebra can dislocate into the spinal canal and cut the spinal cord. When this happens, you will suffer permanent paralysis.
In a head-on impact, your engine can get pushed into the firewall, crushing your feet, ankles, and legs.
Side- or Angle-Impact Crashes
In a side- or angle-impact collision, your body gets pushed sideways. As a result, your seat belt will probably not stop your motion. You could suffer these serious injuries as you impact your door, side window, and center console:
When your face hits the side window, you could fracture your facial bones. If your window shatters, you might also suffer cuts and scrapes to your face, producing scars. These injuries could produce significant disfigurement.
When your head hits your door or window, you could fracture your skull. An impact strong enough to fracture your skull could also tear blood vessels in your brain, causing bleeding and swelling.
When your chest hits your seat belt, the intense forces can break your ribs. This fracture will usually heal on its own without any complications. But in some situations, the broken rib will push into your chest cavity and injure your heart or lungs.
Getting Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
A car accident could injure you so severely that you require medical attention and suffer long-term disabilities. If your car accident resulted from another driver’s negligence, you may have a claim for personal injury compensation. Your compensation may cover your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.