Common Car Accident Injuries — Part 1: Overview

Common Car Accident Injuries — Part 1: Overview

This begins a five-part series titled Common Car Accident Injuries, which discusses injuries to the brain and bones, whiplash, emotional & psychological problems and more. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that in 2016, there were 37,461 traffic fatalities in the U.S, a 5% increase from 2015. Many are caused by traditionally dangerous behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving, and not wearing a seatbelt; however, the recent “epidemic” of distracted driving is also having a massive impact. Fatalities among those riding motorcycles and bicycles, as well as pedestrians, are also continuing to rise.

Potential Types of Accident Injuries

  • Head & Brain: Strikes to the head can cause injuries to the eyes, jaw, teeth and more. One serious type is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI may be mild, such as most concussions, or extremely severe, leading to impairments impacting vision, cognition, memory and more.
  • Neck & Back: The most common neck injury is whiplash, which usually occurs when a vehicle is struck from the rear, where the neck is stretched and abruptly snapped back. A broken neck can result in immediate death. Injuries in the back region include sprains and ruptured discs. Spinal injuries are a potential source of neurological damage.
  • Chest, Abdomen & Pelvis: If crushed in a vehicle collision, the ribs or breast bone (sternum) can be injured, particularly when not wearing a seat belt. A diaphragm tear can create breathing difficulty. Injuries related to compression may occur in the pelvic and hip regions.
  • Upper & Lower Extremities: Injuries to the legs or knees are common when crushed, including leg fractures or torn cartilage within the knee. All limbs are susceptible to being severed or broken.
  • Soft Tissue-Related: Soft tissue injuries refer to injuries to ligament and tendons throughout the body in accidents, which are contusions, sprains or strains. Whiplash is a form of soft tissue injury.

Catastrophic Injuries

Many traffic accidents lead to life-altering, catastrophic injuries that may involve the spine, skull, or brain. Conditions include paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, losing a limb etc. Victims likely face a new set of challenges and a significant financial burden. If caused by reckless or negligent actions by another motorist, the victim and their loved ones should consult with a personal injury attorney.

Fatal Injuries

Colorado experienced a surge in 2016 of fatal traffic accidents. Nationally, there were 3,450 fatalities attributed to distracted driving; however, this volume is likely much higher, due to natural driver reluctance to admit being distracted at the time. Drunk drivers claimed 10,487 lives. Excessive speed was involved in 10,111 deaths. Motorcycle and pedestrian-related casualties spiked. When a fatality stems from someone’s negligence, the survivors of the deceased may pursue recovery in civil actions of wrongful death.

Delayed Injuries

Often a party involved in a crash may not initially recognize their injuries immediately. This may be a result of the adrenaline rush caused by the accident. Within a few days, individuals might start to experience symptoms including the following:

  • Headache: Painful or long-lasting headaches may indicate a blood clot, whiplash, or concussion.
  • Neck, shoulder or back problems: Any neck, shoulder, or back pain may be a sign of whiplash, ligament damage, a ruptured disc, or nerve damage. See a doctor immediately for testing, which may include an X-ray, MRI etc.
  • Swelling or abdominal pain: This kind of pain can be a result of potential internal bleeding.
  • Numbness in extremities: A possible sign of whiplash or nerve damage to the back or neck.
  • Cognitive challenges: Symptoms including poor memory, blurred vision, or extreme depression, may signal a brain injury.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Signs may include recurring nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and depression.

Damages Accident Victims May Pursue

When someone is injured in a Colorado vehicle accident because of another driver’s negligence, he or she may be eligible to seek financial compensation. These damages generally can be economic, noneconomic or punitive. Examples of economic damages are those such as medical expenses, lost wages from missed work, reduced future earning capacity, and property losses. Some of those considered noneconomic include pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship and more. Punitive damages, which are the least common, are designed to punish a defendant and to deter others from considering similar behavior. These damages apply when the defendant’s actions are found to be willful or malicious in nature. 

In the next part of this series, we discuss whiplash in more detail. It may surprise you how costly whiplash can be, both financially and medically.