7 Car Accident Injuries and How to Identify Their Symptoms

Henriksen LawPersonal Injury

car accident injury attorney

If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how jarring and traumatic it can be. But what you might not know is that car crashes can leave you with all sorts of physical and psychological injuries. Crash injuries are predicted to be the eighth leading cause of death globally for all age groups.

Car accident injuries are as varied as the individual circumstance of each crash, but some are more common than you think. Usually, the severity will vary depending on: 

  • Whether you were wearing a seat belt
  • Whether your car got hit from the back, sides, or front
  • Whether you were facing straight ahead or were turned to the side
  • Whether the crash was low-speed or high-speed
  • Whether the airbags deployed

So, what are the different types of serious car accident injuries? Let’s find out!

Symptoms of Common Car Accident Injuries

Most car accident injuries fall into two broad categories, impact, and penetrating. Impact injuries are caused when your body hits the car’s interior, like a knee hitting a dashboard or your head hitting the seat rest. On the other hand, penetrating injuries are cuts and scrapes caused by shattered glass or other sharp loose objects flying inside the car.

It’s worth mentioning that you might not be aware of your injuries or the extent of your injuries while you’re on-site after the car accident. DO NOT leave things to chance. In case anything feels different or unusual, let the paramedics know immediately. Prompt medical care won’t just give you the best chance at recovery, it’ll also improve your shot at a fair settlement. 

Let’s discuss the seven most common car accident injuries and how to identify them.

1. Whiplash

Whiplash is the most common injury in a car accident, often caused by rear-end collisions. It happens when the neck snaps backward or forward, straining the muscles. Although most people can recover from whiplash in a few days, it could take months longer for others.  

Common signs of whiplash include: 

  • Neck pain and stiffness 
  • Lost range of motion in the neck 
  • Pain in the shoulders, upper back, or arms 
  • Tingling and numbness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 

While whiplash may seem like an innocent car accident injury, it can have far-reaching consequences. Be sure to consult an experienced car accident attorney in Utah to fight for your rightful compensation. 

2. Lacerations

Any loose objects inside the car can turn into projectiles during a car accident. This includes cell phones, coffee mugs, eyeglasses, books, and purses. At a higher velocity, each of these items can easily cut your skin or cause other injuries. 

Lacerations may vary from minor cuts and scrapes to open wounds where the skin is torn off, exposing the underlying tissue. These serious car accident injuries typically require surgical intervention and a lengthy recovery process.

3. Brain Injuries

Head trauma is a highly common (and dangerous) car accident injury. According to the CDC, over 69,000 people died from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in 2021. That’s about 190 TBI-related deaths every day. 

TBIs are notoriously slow to show up and diagnose. A few symptoms you might feel are as follows. 

  • Headaches 
  • Confusion 
  • Memory gaps or fog 
  • Nausea 
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears) 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 

Every TBI is potentially serious and life-threatening. Unlike a broken bone, you cannot see a brain injury. While it’s easy to write it off as a simple bump or bruise, we recommend you keep an eye out for changes in learning, memory, concentration, and cognitive function. Better yet, seek medical help to stay on the safe side.

4. Fractures and Broken Bones

High-impact car crashes can cause fractures and broken bones in various parts of the body. The most vulnerable areas are the extremities, such as arms, legs, hands, and feet. Severe collisions can even lead to compound fractures, where the bone pierces through the skin and increases the risk of infection. 

In some cases, two bones that meet at a joint might pull apart, essentially dislocating. This injury is readily apparent but may get overlooked in the chaos of an accident. Pain in a joint may also signal dislocation, even if you don’t notice any external damage.

5. Loss of Limbs

Severe car accidents can result in lost limbs, either at the scene of the crime or from medical complications later. If you’ve lost an arm or leg on-site, know that this is an extremely serious situation that needs immediate medical intervention. Otherwise, you might bleed out. 

Losing limbs isn’t just painful- it can affect your life in the long haul. A limb loss leads to long-term and expensive rehabilitation, prostheses, and other assistive devices. It can significantly limit your daily activities. What’s more, you may lose job opportunities and fall into financial despair. Hence, it’s crucial to work with a seasoned Utah car accident lawyer who’ll help you recover damages for your losses. 

6. Burns

In case your vehicle catches fire after the crash, or if your skin touches hot fluids spraying from the engine, you can get burnt. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of the burns you can suffer in a car crash. 

  • First-Degree: Little to no damage, skin is red and blistered. 
  • Second-Degree: Damage beyond the top layer of the skin, takes 2-3 weeks to heal. 
  • Third-Degree: Burn penetrates all layers of skin and injures nerves/tissue. The wound takes several months to heal and may never get full function again. 
  • Fourth-Degree: Penetrates underlying fat, muscle, and bone, causing amputation or death. The function rarely returns, and the skin looks black/charred.

7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Not all car accident injuries are physical. Sometimes accidents can leave psychological scars instead. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real possibility after any traumatic event. It’s not weakness or the inability to cope. It’s a grave mental health concern that requires urgent care. 

Because PTSD has no physical symptoms and manifests after the actual accident, you may find it difficult to understand what’s going on. Still, here are some symptoms you should look out for. 

  • Agitation 
  • Headaches 
  • Depression and crying spells 
  • Mood swings 
  • Intrusive thoughts or images 
  • Vivid flashbacks 
  • Nightmares 

Even without PTSD, car accidents can cause mental and emotional scars that stick around. Do not hesitate to talk to a psychologist or therapist after your accident.

The Bottom Line

Car accidents can happen when you least expect them. Worse, they can leave you with an array of injuries in their wake. So, always be sure to buckle up, drive safely, and keep your eyes on the road. And in case the accident was not your fault, get a car accident attorney involved pronto. The last thing you’d want is to let the perpetrator walk away scot-free without taking responsibility for your injuries. 

A well-informed Utah car accident lawyer can work wonders for your insurance claim. At Henriksen & Henriksen, we believe in going the distance for our clients and defending their right to a fair settlement every step of the way. For more information, get in touch with us today!