What Are the Top Most Common Car Accident Injuries?

Even at low speeds, car accidents are capable of causing devastating injuries, some of which require surgical treatment, result in permanent impairment, or lead to the wrongful death of the victim.  This article draws upon years of nationwide accident data from sources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and peer-reviewed medical studies to uncover some of the most common automotive accident injuries in Utah and throughout the United States.

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

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According to the most recent CDC data available, “motor vehicle traffic” was the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States from 2006 to 2010, causing 14.3% of all cases.  This number is surpassed only by object strikes (which accounted for 15.5% of TBI cases) and accidental falls (which accounted for 40.5% of TBI cases).  Since approximately 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury each year, one can use the CDC’s data to determine that car accidents are responsible for roughly 243,100 annual cases of TBI.

Depending on which region of the brain is injured and to what extent, TBI might result in:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Cognitive impairments, such as difficulty forming memories, making decisions, or processing new information
  • Impaired hearing
  • Impaired vision
  • Incontinence
  • Paralysis
  • Poor balance
  • Reduced mobility
  • Reduced physical sensitivity to pressure, pain, temperature, etc.

While some cases are less severe than others, TBI is ultimately one of the most devastating injuries a human being can sustain, often resulting in permanent changes to every aspect of the victim’s daily life.

Spinal cord injury (SCI), which frequently results in paralysis, occurs in front-seat passengers in about one out of every 1,860 crashes requiring a tow-away.  However, spinal fractures and dislocations of the spine are about 5.3 times more common, meaning they occur in roughly one out of every 350 serious accidents.  This data was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Traffic Injury Prevention in 2014.  Overall, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that car accidents were responsible for more than 39% of SCI cases since from 2005 to 2012.

Bone Fractures, Whiplash, and Soft Tissue Injuries

Broken bones are a typical outcome of crashes and collisions.  Fractures can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Being struck by loose objects flying through the car.
  • Striking one’s head or limbs against the dashboard or interior walls of the car.
  • Being ejected from the vehicle and breaking a bone on impact with the ground.
  • Being partially pinned, crushed, or snared beneath part of the vehicle.

Various medical studies have investigated accident-related fracture patterns and statistics in recent years.  For instance, researchers have found that nasal fractures (broken noses) are the most common type of facial fracture, followed by orbital fractures (fractured eye sockets), basilar skull fractures (fractures to the base of the skull), and maxillary fractures (fractures to the mid-face/upper jaw).

Soft tissue injuries, by definition, do not affect bone.  Injuries to muscles, tendons (which anchor muscles to bones), and ligaments (which connect bones to each other, forming joints) are all examples of soft tissue injuries.

The best-known soft tissue injury is probably “whiplash,” which occurs when neck muscles and ligaments are rapidly forced to move past their normal range, typically in rear-end collisions.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Neck sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims.”  The NHTSA estimates that there were approximately 805,580 whiplash injuries per year in the U.S. during the period between 1988 and 1996.

Herniated and bulging discs are another widespread soft tissue injury.  When the spongey, shock-absorbing disc between two vertebrae begins to distend, it is called a “bulging” disc.  When the disc ruptures completely, it becomes “herniated.”

Common Injuries in Infant, Toddler, and Child Passengers

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According to a 2010 NHTSA report on injury patterns in child passengers, some of the most frequently occurring injuries between the ages of zero and seven included:

  • Head Injuries – Cerebrum injuries, skull vault fractures, subarachnoid hemorrhages
    • Under 1 year old – Estimated 70% incidence rate
    • 1 to 3 years old – 51%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 39%
  • Thorax Injuries – Rib fractures, lung injuries
    • Under 1 year old – 31%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 14%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 12%
  • Lower Extremity Injuries – Pelvic fractures, broken legs
    • Under 1 year old – 18%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 18%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 17%
  • Abdominal Injuries – Liver injuries, spleen injuries, kidney injuries, small/large intestine injuries
    • Under 1 year old – 17%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 9%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 17%
  • Spinal Injuries
    • Under 1 year old – 16%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 4%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 5%
  • Upper Extremity Injuries – Broken collarbones, broken arms
    • Under 1 year old – 15%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 8%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 14%
  • Facial Injuries
    • Under 1 year old – 5%
    • 1 to 3 years old – 7%
    • 4 to 7 years old – 11%

Reach Out to a Utah Personal Injury Lawyer Today for Help With Your Case

If your, your child, or one of your family members was injured in a car accident in the Salt Lake City area, you may be entitled to compensation.  Utah personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson can help.  With over 33 years of experience handling personal injury claims and lawsuits on behalf of accident victims, Darwin is prepared to aggressively tackle even the most challenging of cases.  To set up a free and confidential legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law, LLC at (801) 895-3143 today.


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