According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2006, about 6 million police-reported auto accidents occurred. In those, more than 2.4 million people were injured.
The most common injuries are to the head, neck and back. Broken bones also are common. Additionally, many auto accident victims suffer burns when their airbag deploys.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Traffic Safety Facts.” August 2016.
Neck injuries are common in an auto accident and can be painful in their own right. Commonly called “whiplash,” neck injuries usually are associated with rear-impact collisions. Whiplash occurs when the soft tissues in the neck (containing nerves, muscles and ligaments) are damaged. Symptoms of whiplash include headaches and neck pain. Common symptoms of a neck injury include headaches, tightness in the neck and inability to turn the neck without pain. Some whiplash victims experience numbness, tingling and radiating pain into the shoulders.
Back injuries also plague many auto accident victims. The term “back injury” covers an array of ailments, as the injury can be a sprain, strain or herniated disk. Whatever the case, back injuries can severely limit movement, and the effects could be permanent.
Of all possible auto accident injuries, those to the head are the most serious. A brain injury, sometime referred to as a closed-head injury, occurs when some outside force traumatizes the brain. If permanent, the patient will never regain some of the brain’s normal functions, which could affect basic, day-to-day activities. Nerve damage and skull fractures also are frequently associated with such injuries.
Broken bones, also known as fractures, can occur when the force of an auto collision causes a sharp crushing or sudden breaking of a bone, such as in the wrist, arm or leg.
Burns also are frequently associated with auto accidents, usually when the airbag deploys and releases a chemical upon inflation. That chemical can cause mild or even severe burns when it contacts the skin. Friction burns from the airbag itself also are a concern.
One result of an auto accident that cannot be overlooked is the psychological effects experienced by those involved. These can be feelings of guilt if another party in the car was injured or killed, or they can relate to the lasting physical effects of an injury, such as paralysis or disfigurement.