What Could Your Life Look Like After a Car Accident?

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Car accidents are incredibly common in the United States–with your chances of ending up involved in one any time you get behind the wheel rounding out to about 30%. Accidents are now the fourth leading cause of death in America, coming behind heart disease, cancer, and covid-19. Each year, over one million road-related fatalities occur in the U.S. alone–with nearly 1,000 of these happening just in the state of Illinois. Even if you are lucky enough to beat these statistics and survive a collision, you could still end up with severe injuries that could have long-term effects, even lasting for the rest of your life. Here are some of the most common injuries that are caused by car crashes and what they could mean for you.

Back Injuries

While back injuries are not necessarily the most common type of injury caused by car accidents, they can have some of the most serious consequences for victims. The nerves in your spine help to maintain communication between your body and brain. Because of their extreme importance, any damage to these nerves could gravely affect your quality of life. The impact from a car crash could cause one of the discs between your vertebrae to slip or become herniated. A herniated disc or slipped disc can cause lasting health problems like chronic pain or permanent damage to the nerves in your spine. In severe accidents, your spine risks taking much more force from the impact, and, depending on the amount of damage done to the nerves, you could be at risk of paralysis.

Head Trauma

One of the most common injuries in any collision–even something as small as getting rear-ended at a low speed–is head trauma. The term ‘head trauma’ might conjure images of brain surgery and having your entire head wrapped in bandages, but the most common type of head trauma is much less dramatic than that. With the way that your brain can easily get jostled around from any sort of impact, concussions are among the top reported injuries from car crashes. While this might not necessarily seem like a serious issue, since concussions occur so frequently due to other factors like sports, having too many concussions can negatively affect things like brain function and mental health. Having a concussion can also affect your ability to work since the healing process requires you to limit things like screen time, reading, and anything else that might be considered strenuous for your brain.

Tissue Injuries

The most common reaction to have when realizing you’re about to be involved in a collision is to brace for impact. However, this is something that could increase your likelihood of being injured. Tensing up during a car crash makes you more likely to suffer muscle damage. After a crash, you might notice how sore your neck or limbs are–this is because your muscles remained rigid and were more shocked by the impact of the crash. While this type of injury will not typically have long-lasting effects, it can be incredibly bothersome to deal with after your accident. To help your muscles heal faster, you should consider taking up an activity like yoga to help relieve tension in your body.

Tissue injuries from car crashes can also commonly come in the form of bruises or scrapes. In a small collision, these injuries are not typically a big issue, but in larger, higher-impact crashes, you risk deeper cuts from shattered glass, split metal, or even your seatbelt. These kinds of cuts will often require stitches–or could even require surgery in cases where the glass cuts deep enough to damage muscles, tendons, or veins. Severe cuts like these will often have lasting effects beyond the scars that they leave on the surface of your skin. If your muscles or tendons suffer enough damage, it could impact your ability to use them in the future. 

Fractures

Broken bones are one of the most common injury types that we tend to associate with car accidents. The thing is, your risk for fractures is pretty dependent on your speed and your sitting position. If you’re sitting properly in your seat, with both feet flat on the floor during the time of your accident, then your chances are much lower than if, as a passenger, you had your feet up on the dash or had your legs crossed in front of you. Besides sitting improperly, you can also increase your chances of fractures–similar to muscle damage–by bracing for impact. This is how people most commonly end up with broken arms from car crashes. An incredibly common fracture type though, that most people might not even consider, is broken fingers. You’ve probably never given it a thought, but the way that you hold a steering wheel can greatly increase your chances of breaking your fingers in the event of a crash.

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