Car accidents occur in various ways, collisions coming in from any direction or angle at all. Different types of car accidents cause different types of injuries, ranging from minor bruising to broken bones. To complicate matters further, details surrounding the accident dictate injury type and severity. For instance, was the driver wearing a seat belt? Characteristics of an accident reveal a lot about how and what injuries are sustained during the collision.
Factors That Impact Car Accident Injuries
Different factors can influence what causes a car accident, inclement weather and driver distraction being two of them. Car injury is also dictated by different situational factors, though they are more technical than those that caused the accident itself.
- Whether the driver or passengers were wearing a seatbelt affects injuries sustained.
- The side of the car that the other driver hit determines which side received the most impact and the level of damage imposed onto your car.
- The head and body positioning of all individuals in a car dictates the type and severity of the injuries they sustain.
- The speed of both cars influences the severity of impact.
- Airbag deployment can change the severity of the impact by cushioning some of the blow.
Types of Injuries
Injuries that are caused by car accidents fall under two categories: impact injuries and penetrating injuries. The blunt force and crushing power of an accident, like forcing a passenger’s head to hit a window, cause impact injuries. Penetrating injuries are characterized by the actual breaking of skin, like when glass shatters out of a window and cuts the passengers.
- Whiplash (neck injury) occurs when the impact from a car forces an individual’s head to move too quickly, most commonly in a back-and-forth motion. This motion causes the neck muscles to overextend, causing a soft tissue injury. Soft tissue injuries occur when muscles, tendons, and/or ligament are damaged in an accident. If left untreated, whiplash can cause chronic neck and back issues.
- Head injuries are the most severe type of injury in high impact collisions. Car accidents cause direct impact of the head when the force of the accident pushes it into a window or other car surface (i.e. steering wheel). This can cause concussion, lacerations that mark the point of impact on the head, and closed head injuries. Closed head injuries are characterized by damage to the brain’s connective tissues and fluid. These injuries can cause cognitive impairment, skull fracturing, and even coma.
- Back injuries come in the form of a sprain (soft tissue injury) or spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries are possible in severe collisions, causing nerve damage that translates to various body parts.
- Appendage injuries involve the arms and legs. Sprains and bone breakage are possible when a passenger’s arms and legs are thrown against a car surface or pinned between surfaces.
- Chest injuries are extremely common in car accidents. Depending on the side of impact, different portions of the chest area can be damaged. High-impact collisions cause bruising and broken ribs, but severe accidents can cause cardiac arrest, internal bleeding, and even collapsed lungs.
- Scrapes and cuts are not specific to any body part but also cause damage. Every object inside of a car can become a dangerous object in a car accident. For instance, a phone being held to the ear could become impacted or damaged, cutting through the user’s head. Though scrapes and cuts are not thought of as extremely damaging, they pose a huge risk in the form of blood loss if a large enough wound is present.
Part of understanding the different injuries related to car accidents comes with knowing the different factors at play in causing those injuries. Keeping in mind that something as simple as which direction your head is facing can determine the type of injuries you might sustain; it becomes extremely relevant to learn about what you can do in the moment to prevent a bad injury from becoming worse.