Around the world, between 20 and 50 million people suffer from car accident injuries annually.

We often forget the dangers of driving, as it’s an everyday occurrence for many of us. It’s not something to be afraid of.

Rather, it’s something to be aware of so each of us can be safe and conscious of the fragility of the situation.

Here are the 10 most common car accident injuries so you can avoid them.

1. Contusions

A contusion is a bruise, in medical terms

Bruising happens when capillaries break in a specific area close to the surface of the skin, causing blood cells to leak. This results in discoloration and, oftentimes, tenderness.

Someone may get bruises from a motor vehicle accident (MVA) from the seatbelt, the steering wheel, airbags, or flying objects.

2. Burns

The first thing you may think of is a seat belt “burn”. The truth is, a seat belt “burn” is an abrasion. The belt locks up in an accident and rubs on the skin.

A MVA may result in an actual burn, though. Burn classifications break down into four categories.


This is when the outer layer of skin (epidermis) becomes burnt. It results in red and painful skin with no blisters. 


Here, the epidermis and part of the next layer of skin (dermis). The skin becomes red, swollen, painful, and blistered.


Worse than the previous two degrees, third-degree involves the epidermis and dermis being completely destroyed, along with some subcutaneous tissue. The skin may look white or charred black. 


This is a burn where all layers of skin are severely damaged, sometimes even to the muscle and bone. Nerve endings receive permanent damage.

Any degree of burn may be a result of a vehicle crash if it catches fire or hot fluids come in contact with skin.

3. Lacerations

Better known as cuts, lacerations are common in minor and major MVAs. They may occur from hitting the wheel, glass shattering, the pressure of the airbag, or things flying inside of the car.

Some lacerations may require stitches, while others may require plastic surgery. 

4. Soft-Tissue Injuries

Soft-tissue injuries (STIs) include lacerations along with an array of other injuries. A STI occurs when muscles, tendons, or ligaments become damaged.

A tendon is a fiber that connects muscles to bones. If damaged, a person may experience a strain or tendonitis.

A ligament, on the other hand, connects bone to bone. When a ligament becomes damaged it’s referred to as a sprain.

These injuries may occur in any part of the body due to the unnatural twisting, hyperextension, or force incurred during a car accident. 

5. Broken Bones

The most common broken bone is a rib fracture. It happens due to an impact to the chest from either the airbag or the steering wheel. 

It typically cracks rather than breaking entirely, which is a good thing. If it breaks entirely, it could damage arteries or organs. 

Because the ribs are in a sensitive place (i.e. near your lungs and heart), you should see a doctor after severe car crashes resulting in chest pain or difficulty breathing. 

One way to tell if you have a broken rib is to take a deep breath, give pressure to the area that hurts, and gently twist your body. If the pain occurs or deepens when you do this, you probably have a fractured rib.

You can break any bone during a car crash, but ribs are the most common.

6. Neck Injuries

Whiplash occurs with a forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. Technically, whiplash is a soft tissue injury, but it deserves its own mention due to its prevalence in car accidents. Whiplash happens most frequently when someone is rear-ended.

Minor whiplash results in pain, muscle stiffness, and headaches, amongst other symptoms.

More severe whiplash could result in cervical spine fracture. 

7. Spinal Injuries

On the same note as neck injuries, spinal injuries are common and range in severity. A MVA may result in a herniated disc, where part of the spinal disc comes out of place and presses on the nerves.

In more serious cases, damage to the spine results in a loss of sensation or movement (called paralysis) everywhere below the spot of the injury. This could happen from a direct force or an unnatural movement.

8. Traumatic Brain Injuries

We’re all familiar with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Concussions fall into this category, even though concussions are typically a minor TBI. 

TBIs cause headaches, blurry vision, sensory sensitivity, fatigue, and difficulty with cognitive processes. A person may incur a TBI if their head hits something during an accident or vice versa. 

In severe cases, there may be permanent loss of brain function.

9. Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding occurs when there’s damage to our circulatory system, specifically the arteries or veins. When this happens, blood escapes circulation and begins pooling inside the body.

Internal bleeding leads to death through organ failure, seizures, and sending the body into comatose. 

A car accident causes internal bleeding through force. This may be another car t-boning the victim, or the force of a head-on collision.

10. Car Accident Injuries Aren’t All Physical

Amongst common car accident injuries is psychological damage. The stress and trauma of a MVA often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression — especially if fatalities occur.

Near-death experiences shake people and cause deep fear to surface. This becomes heightened in people who already experience the psychological issues previously listed. 

Physical damage, like shoulder, elbow, or other joint pain can also occur as the result of a car accident. Treating shoulder bursitis or elbow tendonitis resulting from an accident or other cause is crucial to preventing pain and issues as you try to get back on your feet.

Be Safe And Unafraid

You don’t need to have fear about experiencing any of these car accident injuries.

Rather, you should continue to be aware of them so as to prevent their occurrence. Always wear your seatbelt, always practice defensive driving, and always drive sober.

Keep reading our blog to learn more to empower yourself in your daily life. 

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