The only limit to the types of physical injuries you can sustain in a car accident is how many body parts and systems you have. As of 2017, motor vehicle accidents are in the top six leading causes of nonfatal injuries that sent the person to the emergency room for treatment in all age groups from five years to 65+, according to the CDC. Common physical injuries after car accidents include the following.

Head Injuries

Because the head can strike things inside the car, like a side window, dashboard, steering wheel, and back of the front seat, car accidents are a common cause of many head injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI can cause permanent damage to brain tissue, chronic headaches, cognitive impairment, personality changes, mood disorders, and social difficulty. TBI can also lead to coma or other altered states of consciousness.

Neck, Back, and Spinal Cord Injuries

The physics of large, heavy metal objects traveling at high rates of speed and crashing into each other leaves little mystery about how so many people sustain catastrophic neck and back injuries, sometimes with spinal cord damage.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Many broken arms and legs happen when the extremities of occupants strike things inside the car, like the interior side panel or dashboard.  Also, the force of another vehicle colliding with your car can snap the bones in your arms or legs.

Chest Injuries

A high number of chest injuries occur when someone’s chest rams into the steering wheel or dashboard. The seat belt shoulder harness or deploying airbag can also result in injuries to the chest.

A person can suffer broken ribs or damage to the heart and lungs, like a punctured or collapsed lung. Some chest injuries are fatal.


Although we have already covered several kinds of broken bones, many other fractures happen in car crashes. In a significant collision, a person could suffer a fractured pelvis. This type of injury usually comes with multiple severe injuries, like broken legs or hips and internal organ damage.

Facial fractures are common in motor vehicle collisions, as the face does not have any protection from damage. Drivers are at particular risk of facial injuries because they are facing forward.

Internal Injuries

The extraordinary force on the body that can happen in a motor vehicle wreck can cause damage to internal organs, like a bruised liver or a ruptured spleen. These injuries can lead to:

  • Internal bleeding, even hemorrhage
  • Organ failure
  • Infection

Whiplash and Other Soft Tissue Injury

People might assume that a soft tissue injury is not as severe as a broken bone, but many fractures heal quicker than soft tissue. Some soft tissue injuries require surgical repair, and many have a low rate of complete healing.

A person can sustain a disabling shoulder injury from the seat belt/harness doing its job.

Whiplash usually happens when a person riding in one car gets struck from behind by another vehicle. The force of the impact hurtles the occupant forward, then his head snaps back rapidly, and then forward again. The rapid changes of direction cause damage to muscles of the neck.

The Mayo Clinic says that the signs of whiplash after a car accident are pain and stiffness in the neck and headaches. Usual treatment includes physical therapy or other treatment and pain medications. Some people end up with chronic neck pain and other problems after completing treatment for whiplash.

Lacerations and Burns

Whenever you combine high speed or force with sharp or jagged objects, you get a likelihood of lacerations (cuts). Metal and hard molded plastic make up much of today’s vehicles. When a collision rips metal and plastic apart, it can cause lacerations.

Sometimes occupants experience deep puncture wounds from items inside the car or damaged car components.

When vehicles crash, there is always the risk of fire or an explosion. In either situation, a person can suffer devastating burns that can change a person’s life. Years of procedures like skin grafts, painful wound tissue treatments, physical therapy, and plastic surgery to reduce scarring and increase function become the burn victim’s new reality.

How Injuries Occur

Some kinds of injuries are more common than others in car crashes. Fatal and non-fatal physical injuries can happen when:

  • A part of the body hits something inside the vehicle.
  • The person gets thrown from the car.
  • Something from outside the vehicle (like another car) impacts the occupant.

Getting Legal Help for Car Accident Injuries

If you got hurt in a car crash, you might be eligible for money damages. A car accident lawyer can help. We will be happy to talk with you and evaluate your injury claim.

Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today for your free consultation. There is no obligation. We do not get paid until you win compensation.