Today’s busy lifestyles mean people spend more time in the car than ever. Whether you are commuting to work, getting kids to activities or running abundant errands, your hours behind the wheel add up. It is no surprise that car accidents are a regular occurrence and are one of the top causes of physical and psychological injury in the United States. In 2015, there were 35,092 traffic fatalities (869 in Missouri) and approximately 2,443,000 crash-related injuries. The overall cost of these accidents was more than $242 billion.
Recovering from the physical and psychological trauma of a car accident can take months or even years. In some cases, the damage is permanent. These are the five most common car accident injuries:
Injuries to the Brain and Head
Injuries involving the brain and head are some of the most serious. Unfortunately, these types of injuries are all-too-frequent, especially when speed is a factor in the crash. Heads are thrown against the dashboard, steering wheel or window, leading to a range of issues from concussions to permanent brain damage. In some cases, injuries to the head and brain lead to the loss of other functions, including vision and hearing.
Injuries to the Neck and Back
The soft tissue in the neck and back are easily damaged, and many people experience pain in these areas after an accident. One of the most common injuries is whiplash, which occurs when the head is thrown forward and then back without warning. The muscles and ligaments in the neck experience trauma, causing swelling and sensitivity in varying degrees. Some accident victims experience similar issues in their backs. Back pain occurs when the muscles around the spine experience a sudden jolt or shock, perhaps causing the person to bend or twist in an unusual way.
Injuries to the Spinal Cord
The spine travels the length of the back, and it houses the sensitive spinal cord that carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Car accidents frequently result in spinal cord injuries, which are quite serious. Mild symptoms could include pain or tingling in any part of the body due to nerve damage, and severe trauma to the spinal cord can result in paralysis.
The bones in the spine are subject to the same problems as any other bone. They can break or slip out of place. It is common for people who experience a vehicle collision to report a herniated disc, which occurs when the soft padding between the vertebrae in the spine is displaced. This condition leads to back pain, as well as weakness or loss of sensation in the extremities.
Injuries to the Face
Although car accidents usually cause the vehicle to come to a sudden stop, the passengers inside continue to travel at the same speed until they crash into something. This is the primary reason that injuries occur, and many people hurt their faces on the steering wheel, dashboard or windows. Cuts and bruises are just the beginning in terms of potential damage to the face. Victims can experience broken bones, such as the nose, jaw and eye socket, and they may sustain serious damage to their teeth or tongue.
Sometimes, physical injuries are minor when compared to psychological injuries that result from a car accident. Many people experience emotional distress that can range from mild anxiety to severe, debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder. These conditions may linger long after broken bones have healed, and they must be treated with the same care and attention as more visible physical injuries.
If you have been injured in a car accident, know that an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you. Your personal injury lawyer will handle the insurance companies, so that you can focus on healing.