Types of Injuries From Car Accidents and How to Identify Them

injuries from car accidents

Some of the latest data from the National Safety Council (NSC) reveals that there were 4.8 million medically consulted injuries related to car accidents reported in 2020 alone. Additionally, the NSC finds that injury costs related to motor vehicle crashes amounted to $473.2 billion that year.

Injuries from car accidents can be both physical and psychological. Plus, injuries such as whiplash or broken bones can cause complications long after the crash.

There are many types of car accident injuries, and some may affect your quality of life long after the incident. Here are some of the most common types, how to identify them, and what you should do if you’ve been in a bad crash.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Every year, roughly 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI. It’s one of the more common types of car accident injuries.

A traumatic brain injury can occur as a result of a jolt or violent blow to the head. Car accident victims can suffer a TBI even if they’re wearing their seatbelts.

In mild cases, the brain cells may only be affected temporarily. However, in severe cases, injuries can result in long-term complications or even death.

There are two types of TBIs: closed brain injuries and penetrating brain injuries.

Symptoms in Adults

We always recommend getting a proper medical diagnosis after a car accident. However, these are some of the symptoms you can look for that may indicate a mild TBI before calling a doctor:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes in smell or taste
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual

Although these are common symptoms of a mild TBI, never take them lightly. If you experience any of these following an accident, speak with your doctor immediately.

Some symptoms of a severe TBI appear days after an accident and include:

  • Loss of consciousness (minutes to hours)
  • Persistent headaches
  • Weakness or numbness in toes and fingers
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fluids from the nose and ears
  • Inability to wake up from sleep
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or strange behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma

Again, see your doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs after a vehicle collision. Only a doctor can properly diagnose head injuries. It’s vital to seek medical care following any serious car accident.


Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury to the neck. It can occur due to a sudden extension and flexion. It’s one of the most common injuries that car accident victims face.

Whiplash is quite common in rear-end car accidents.

People suffering from whiplash may be aware of the symptoms immediately, but it can also take a few days for symptoms to manifest.

In most cases, head and neck pain will disappear after a few days or weeks following a car accident. Although most patients recover within three months, a few may continue to experience residual pain and headaches.


As we mentioned, you may not feel symptoms immediately after an accident. It’s still important to get treatment in case any symptoms occur later on.

Look for the following:

  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Pain worsening with neck movement
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms
  • Headaches that start from the base of the skull
  • Tenderness in the shoulder, arms, or upper back
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Fractures and Breaks

Vehicle collisions can often result in an unnatural twisting of the body. Limbs may twist or bend, causing fractures or broken bones due to the force.

A broken arm or leg can result in mobility issues, missed work, disability, and so on.

Fractures can cause swelling, pain, and deformity. People may also hear a snap or a grinding noise. As such, it’s often clear when someone suffers a broken bone; however, this isn’t always the case.


When it isn’t obvious that you’ve suffered a fracture, look for the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Deformity

Moving the injured limb or applying any pressure to the point may result in sharp pain. Additionally, the area may appear deformed or unusual.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Injuries to the neck and back are also quite common and can sometimes have lasting complications.

There are two main types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury can result in total paralysis in affected parts of the body. It causes permanent damage to the spine.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries refer to any partial damage to the spine. How much mobility and feeling a victim has following a car crash and sustaining this type of injury depends on the location and severity.

There are four sections of the spine, and each protects a different group of nerves. The four areas are cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. For instance, cervical spinal cord injuries affect the neck and head.

Unfortunately, total paralysis is often irreversible. In cases of limited paralysis, a patient may recover, though it will take time, and they may face many financial and physical struggles. That’s why injury compensation is so crucial.


Any damage to the spinal cord is not to be taken lightly. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of movement
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Inability to feel heat, cold, or touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Secretions from the lungs
  • Pain or a stinging sensation

The following signs are severe and considered emergency symptoms:

  • Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, back, or head
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis in any part of the body
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, feet, toes, or fingers
  • Difficulty walking or lack of balance
  • Impaired breathing
  • Unusually positioned neck or back

It’s crucial to keep in mind that certain injuries following a car accident aren’t always apparent. However, you must seek medical attention to obtain a diagnosis. You’ll need proof that you sustained these injuries as a result of the accident to receive compensation.

Receive Compensation for Any Injuries From Car Accidents

If you’ve been in a car accident and noticed any of these symptoms, don’t wait. Contact a car accident lawyer and see a doctor immediately after suffering injuries from car accidents.

For car accident victims in the San Bernardino and San Bernardino county area, you can count on Arrowhead Accident Attorneys. Fill out our online form for a risk-free consultation today.

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