Every year, between 20 million and 50 million people are injured or disabled as the result of a car accident. While the vast majority of accidents leave neither party seriously injured or in need of medical care, when forceful collisions occur, the injuries can be devastating and life-altering.
These are the five most common injuries sustained in car accidents. These injuries are not always immediately apparent, and many can take several days to appear following a collision. However, when they do, they can severely impact your ability to perform daily tasks.
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Head injuries are not only among the most common injuries sustained in an accident; they are also among the hardest to spot. They may not appear until days, or weeks, after an accident. A dull headache could appear days later that could be symptomatic of a brain injury sustained in a collision.
Oftentimes, these injuries are caused by the driver’s head hitting the steering wheel. However, they can also occur in passengers whose heads have collided with a side window. Brain and head injuries range from mild concussions to severe brain trauma that can leave lasting damage. If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from a brain or head injury following an accident, contact a medical professional immediately, or research how to treat a concussion at home.
The force of an impact on the back or side of the vehicle can often jar the neck and spine. The movement of the head snapping backwards, or forwards places a large amount of stress on the neck muscles, leaving damage to the spinal cord, vertebrae, ligaments and/or spinal discs.
One of the most terrifying outcomes of a car accident is a victim being trapped in a burning car. While rare, when this occurs, the injuries sustained are serious and can be fatal.
Burns can leave a victim severely disfigured and in need of plastic surgery. In severe burn cases, the muscles and bones under the skin are damaged, leaving the victim’s quality of life and mobility severely diminished. For this reason, burns are among the most devastating injuries sustained in an accident.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
In less severe crashes, the chest and abdominal injuries might be limited to abrasions and bruises. However, in forceful collisions, the impact with the steering wheel or seatbelt can cause ribs to break, causing significant internal injuries that can, in extreme cases, become life-threatening.
Not all injuries are physical. Psychological injuries can be just as debilitating and life-altering as physical ones. Victims of car accidents can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The National Center for PTSD estimates that the condition affects around 9% of motor vehicle accident survivors.
The survivor may need psychological treatment before they can get behind the wheel again, they may develop depression or anxiety. Other times, psychological illnesses like depression are brought on as a result of psychical injuries sustained. The psychological impact of car accidents should not be overlooked when survivors are seeking treatment for their injuries and should be carefully considered in any road to recovery.