Car Accident Injuries Statistics: Common Afflictions and Treatment Options

You glance into your rearview mirror. You can see the car behind you; it’s not slowing down. And there’s nothing you can do about it. 

If you’ve recently been in a car accident, you know just how frightening it can be. You might not have been injured badly, but you wonder if there’s a chance more could be going on inside than what you can feel. 

Car accident injury statistics tell us that car accidents can cause all sorts of injuriesboth physical and psychological — and that many injuries can take several days to notice. 

Keep reading to learn what statistics say are the most common car accident injuries and learn how proper treatment can help get you back to living well. 

injuries from car accidents statistics

Table of Contents

Car Accident Injury Statistics: 7 of the Most Common Injury Types

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to seek a healthcare provider. A car accident chiropractor, such as at Cascade Spine & Injury Center, can help you recover from auto injuries like: 

  • Whiplash 
  • Neck pain 
  • Back pain
  • Headaches and more 

Numerous injuries can occur in a motor vehicle collision, but you are at a much higher risk for suffering one of the following most common injuries from car accidents. 

car accident injuries statistics

#1: Head and Neck Injuries 

Head and neck injuries, particularly whiplash injuries, are among the most common injuries suffered in car accidents. 

In a minor motor crash, your head can suffer …

  • Bruises
  • Lacerations; and
  • Scrapes

… when it bangs against a part of the vehicle or an object inside the vehicle.

You can suffer closed head injuries, a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, and even permanent brain damage in a more severe accident. 

Common symptoms of a head injury include:

  • Bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Feeling sick
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Passing out 
  • Memory problems
  • Blurred vision 

In addition to head injuries, jarring the body can cause injuries to the muscles, tendons, cartilage, and other soft tissues in the neck. Whiplash results from a rapid forward and backward movement of the neck. 

Whiplash is a common injury in a car accident — and is often caused by rear-end collisions

Signs of whiplash include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder, upper back, or arm pain
  • Tingling and numbness 
  • Neck pain and stiffness 

#2: Broken Bones

Broken and fractured bones are common in severe car accidents, such as multiple-vehicle collisions or vehicle rollovers. 

Broken bones are especially dangerous because they can lead to internal injuries that are difficult to treat. For example, if you have broken ribs from a car accident, you could also have a punctured lung. 

Types of bone fractures include:

  • Displaced fracture
    • When the bone breaks into multiple pieces and moves
  • Non-displaced fracture
    • When the bone breaks but stays where it was
  • Open fracture
    • When the bone breaks and exits through the skin
  • Closed fracture
    • When the bone is broken underneath unbroken skin
  • Partial fracture
    • When the fracture doesn’t go all the way through the bone
  • Stress fracture
    • When there is a hairline crack in the bone

This study involved 301 patients who visited an emergency room with a fracture after a car accident. It found that femur fractures were the most commonly known fractures among males, while a humerus fracture was the most common fracture among females. 

#3: Spinal Cord Injuries

Car accident injury statistics tell us that spinal cord injuries are also common after collisions. A spinal cord injury occurs when a person experiences a force or trauma that damages the nerves in the spinal cord. These injuries can be devastating. 

While some spinal cord injuries are minor and will heal over time, others are more serious — impacting day-to-day activities or even causing paralysis. 

Possible side effects of a spinal cord injury are:

  • Loss of feeling
  • Paralysis
  • Pain
  • Spasms
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control 
  • Difficulty breathing or coughing 

Some common spinal cord injuries include:

car accident injury statistics

#4: Back Injuries

Back injuries (and particularly to the lower back) are quite common after car accidents — as your spine isn’t designed to sustain heavy impact

The biggest problem is that symptoms from a back injury from a car crash sometimes don’t show up until days after. This is one reason why it’s so important to seek medical help immediately following an accident. 

Common symptoms associated with back injuries are:

  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Inability to maintain normal posture 

Five common types of back injuries are:

  1. Herniated discs 
  2. Fractured spinal vertebrae 
  3. Whiplash 
  4. Facet joint injuries 
  5. Spinal cord injuries 

A study followed the recovery of 93 patients who sustained an injury to the cervical spine due to a car accident. After recovery, in a follow-up, the study found that 23 of the patients still complained of low back pain related to the injury.

#5: Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are the most widespread type of injury following both minor and severe car accidents. 

Even low-impact car accidents often result in soft tissue injuries. A study on low-impact motor vehicle collisions found that 29 percent of participants sustained soft tissue injuries in accidents at 2.5 miles per hour. In comparison, 38 percent of participants sustained soft tissue injuries at 5 miles per hour.

Soft tissue injuries include trauma to any …

  • Skin
  • Muscle
  • Tendon; or
  • Ligament

… in the body. 

Common areas on the body for soft tissue injuries are:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
    • If wearing a seat belt
  • Neck
    • Depending on the collision angle
  • Torso
  • Hips
    • If inadequately supportive seats are used
  • Feet
    • If they become trapped or from pedal pressure 
  • Head
    • When jarred by a sudden stop or airbag deployment 

Examples of soft tissue injuries are:

  • Whiplash (the most common)
  • Lacerations
  • Avulsions
  • Abrasions
  • Contusions
  • Muscle sprains 

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Limited range of motion 
  • A popping or snapping sound or feeling 

#6: Internal Injuries

Internal injuries are often the most dangerous type of injury following a car accidentand they may not be immediately apparent. 

The University of Amsterdam published a study following car accident patients. It revealed that patients with internal abdominal injury may not present with symptoms until several days after an accident. 

Damage to internal organs can be caused by your body hitting or being pressed against an object, or by flying debris. 

Internal injuries to the trunk of your body can include: 

  • Broken ribs 
  • Collapsed lungs; and 
  • Damaged organs like the heart and liver

Internal injuries require immediate medical help and surgery, as internal bleeding can cause death if left untreated. 

Common symptoms of internal bleeding are:

  • Evidence of a seatbelt injury 
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Light-headedness 
  • Deep purple skin

#7: Psychological Injuries

It’s difficult to predict how someone will be affected emotionally and psychologically after a car accident. 

It can be common to experience immediate shock, followed by feelings of sadness or grief. Or you may feel anxious or fearful. Others may experience flashbacks to the accident. These psychological conditions can have long-term effects on relationships and daily functioning if left untreated.

Car accidents can lead to psychological distress, such as:

  • Mood swings
  • High levels of stress and anxiety 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • New fears and phobias

In addition, many drivers experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a serious car accident. PTSD can limit your ability to do the things you love.

A study conducted by an Oxford University department of psychiatry finds that one-third of people involved in a crash suffer from …

  • PTSD
  • Persistent anxiety 
  • Depression; or 
  • Phobias 

… one year after the incident

This research suggests that PTSD may affect 2.5 to 7 million people in the United States following a car accident.

Even without PTSD, car accidents can lead to mental and emotional scars that linger. Talking to a psychologist or therapist after an accident is normal and recommended for some patients.

Injuries From Car Accidents: Statistics About Seeking Treatment After a Car Crash

How Many People Seek Treatment for a Car Accident Injury 

The World Health Organization shares that between 20 and 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries after a car accident — with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury

Every 15 minutes in the U.S. 66 people are treated in an emergency department following a motor vehicle crash. Annually, 3 million people are injured each year in car accidents. 

car accident injuries statistics

Most Effective Treatments

The most effective treatments after a car accident will depend on different factors, such as what the injury is. However, there are a variety of general treatment options that are usually recommended regardless of the type of injury. 

These treatments include:

  • Chiropractic care 
  • Physical therapy
  • Proper exercise and nutrition 
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage Therapy 
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Hot and cold therapy 

Benefits of Treatment

Though some injuries are known immediately after a crash, it can take several days for others to be noticed. Seeking treatment Ass soon as possible is the key to restoring your body to full function after a car accident. 

Seeking medical help right away can aid in:

  • A speedy recovery
  • Improved mobility 
  • Having a custom treatment plan
  • Improved mental health 
  • Planning for the future 

Risks of Not Seeking Treatment 

Following a car accident, there are serious conditions that might not present with symptoms or pain right away. Delaying treatment can cause permanent damage and even death in rare cases. 

Some of the risks of not seeking treatment after a car accident are:

  • Internal bleeding 
  • Spinal cord damage 
  • Internal organ damage (such as a ruptured spleen or punctured lung)
  • Serious head injuries (such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury) 

Cascade Spine & Injury Center: Over 10 Years of Experience With Treating Auto Accident-Related Injuries

If you don’t have pain or symptoms immediately following a car accident, it can be difficult to gauge for yourself if you have experienced any injuries. Statistics help us better understand that many injuries can take time to show up. 

If you’ve been in a car accident — no matter how minor — you should seek medical care as soon as possible. 

A chiropractor can help you recover from your auto injuries

You don’t need to live with symptoms from your car accident. Contact Cascade Spine & Injury Center to help you through your recovery. 

For your convenience, we offer:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture; and
  • Rehabilitation therapy 
car accident injuries statistics

The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

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