Posted by Brian P. Strong on 10/17/2022

Serious Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Serious Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Every year, more than 2 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Americans spend 1 million days in the hospital each year due to car accidents. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 42, 915 people died in car crashes on our roadways in 2021, which amounts to more than 110 people dying every single day from car crashes. 

A serious motor vehicle accident can be catastrophic. Severe injuries often compound and extend the ordeal of a car crash. Accident victims may suffer brain, neck, spine, and back injuries, which often result in debilitating chronic pain, loss of employment, and even death. 

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) 

A leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) is motor vehicle accidents. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Traumatic Brain Injury Surveillance Report reports that 60,611 TBI-related deaths took place in 2019 in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes caused approximately 17% of those TBI-related deaths.

Car accident victims often suffer from impact related brain injuries called Coup, Contrecoup and Coup-contrecoup brain injuries. These injuries occur due to blunt force impact. The impact causes severe bruising of the brain. A coup injury results in bruises, cuts, contusions, or other marks at the site or right below the site of impact. Symptoms include bleeding, bruising, brain swelling and hemorrhaging of the brain. 

Contrecoup brain injuries occur on the side opposite to where the blow was received. Contrecoup injuries may not be visible because they affect the side of the brain opposite from the impact. Often misdiagnosed, a contrecoup brain injury can cause long-term risks for victims. Symptoms of contrecoup injuries include coma, loss of consciousness, seizures, confusion, headaches, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, anxiety, depression, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, slurred speech, language issues, and sensitivity to light.

Sometimes car accidents cause coup-contrecoup injuries which are a combination of the blow and the counterblow at the same time. The initial blow to the head damages one part of the skull with blunt force, for example a driver’s head hits the steering wheel. Shortly thereafter, the driver’s brain shifts inside the skull, pushing the head backwards. This movement presses the brain into the skull causing the contrecoup injury on the opposite side of the crash victim’s head. Symptoms of a combined coup-contrecoup injury include swelling of the brain, bleeding, and skull fracture. Symptoms also include cognitive and physical symptoms as outlined above for a contrecoup injury. This type of injury may have severe consequences for the accident victim.

Brain injuries due to car crashes must always be treated seriously. Even a simple concussion can turn into a significant lifelong issue if not treated immediately. Brain injury survivors often suffer due to chronic mental and physical pain, as well as disability. 

Neck, back and spine injuries 

Car accidents frequently cause neck, back and spine injuries. The impact of a car crash applies extreme pressure on the neck and spine. It is common for car crash victims to experience this kind of injury.

Some immediate symptoms that may indicate a neck, back or spine injury might include head, neck, or back pain; immobility of fingers, toes; numbness; tingling or burning sensations; headache; inability to walk; loss of balance; uncontrollable bowels or bladder; difficulty breathing; unnatural position of body after accident.

Delayed symptoms of neck, back or spine injuries may include pain or pinching sensations in shoulders, neck or back; continuous headache after impact; swelling, pain or bruising in the belly; weakness; numbness or tingling in hands, arms, fingers, or toes; inability to lift; issues with vision or hearing; panic; anxiety. 

Major neck, back and spine injuries due to car crashes include, but are not limited to: 

  • Spinal Cord Injuries which are some of the most dangerous car crash injuries. 
    1. The fierce impact from a collision may damage the spinal cord. This can result in permanent nerve damage or paralysis. Immediate medical attention is required when the spinal cord is injured. 
  • Whiplash which causes severe pain in the neck, and lower/upper back. 
    1. Whiplash is due to the back-and-forth movement of the head during crash impact. This jerking impact can tear cervical spine ligaments, muscles, nerves, bones, and discs. 
  • Spinal Disc Injuries which include damage to one or several of the 23 discs that sit between each vertebra. 
    1. A spinal disc injury occurs when the crash impact damages or displaces one or more discs causing bulging disks, annular tears, and herniated discs. A bulging disc is when the disc bulges out into the spinal canal. An annular tear is a crack in the disc’s outer ring of ligaments. An annular tear may cause pain and inflammation around the damaged disc. A herniated disk is when a tear causes the internal, jelly-like center of a disc to leak into the spinal canal. Nerve pain is possible if a disc fragment irritates the nearby spinal nerves. 
  • Thoracic Spine Injuries which occur in the middle or upper back, causing severe pain in those areas of the spine. 
    1. Thoracic spine injuries may cause fractures, disc herniations, and paralysis. This type of spine injury is especially serious because the vertebrae is narrower in the thoracic section of the spine.
  • Spinal Stenosis which happens when a back injury is left untreated. 
    1. This progressive disease gets worse over time. The channel housing the spinal cord narrows, forcing the vertebrae out, and pinching the nerves in the channel. Extremity pain, tingling, stiffness, and loss of bladder and bowel control may follow. 

Injuries sustained in car crashes are profoundly serious, often resulting in chronic health issues, loss of income, and in the most severe cases, loss of life. Victims should not wait to seek medical care and legal advice if injured in a car accident. Sometimes minor injuries can quickly turn into major tragedies. The best thing you can do for your situation is to speak with an experienced York car accident attorney about your injuries.

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