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What Happens to Your Body in a Car Crash?

In a car accident your body is violently shaken by the physical forces resulting in damages and injuries. The human body often hits in interior cabin including the doors, steering wheel, airbags, or window. Some of the most common injuries include broken bones, burns, head and neck trauma, brain injuries, and back and spinal cord trauma.


When you take the driver's seat, you rely on yourself and other drivers to operate their vehicles with care and caution to prevent accidents. Nevertheless, accidents still occur, and it's crucial to comprehend their effects on the body.


What Happens to Your Body in a Car Crash

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The Mechanics of a Car Crash


The mechanics of a car crash are complex and involve several physical forces that act on the vehicle and its occupants. When a car is in motion, it possesses kinetic energy, which is the energy an object possesses due to its motion. In a crash, this kinetic energy is suddenly dissipated, causing the vehicle and its occupants to come to a rapid stop. This sudden deceleration can result in significant forces acting on the body, leading to injuries.


The severity of the forces acting on the body depends on several factors, including the speed of the vehicle, the angle of the collision, and the size and weight of the vehicles involved. Higher speeds and oblique angles of collision generally result in more severe forces acting on the body. The direction of the forces can also play a role, with side-impact collisions being particularly dangerous due to the lack of protection provided by the vehicle's doors.


When a car crashes, several physical forces act on the vehicle and its occupants. These forces include:

  1. Inertia: This is the resistance of an object to a change in its motion. In a car crash, the occupants of the vehicle tend to continue moving forward at the same speed as the vehicle before the crash. This is why wearing a seatbelt is so important, as it helps to restrain the body and prevent it from moving forward.

  2. Acceleration: This is the rate of change of an object's velocity. During a car crash, the occupants of the vehicle experience a rapid acceleration, as the vehicle comes to a sudden stop.

  3. Compression: This occurs when the body is subjected to a force that pushes it together, causing damage to internal organs and bones.

  4. Tension: This occurs when the body is subjected to a force that pulls it apart, causing damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Understanding these forces can help us better understand how and why injuries occur in a car crash. Taking steps to prevent accidents, such as obeying traffic laws and driving defensively, can help reduce the risk of injury in a car crash.


The Impact of Kinetic Energy on the Body


Kinetic energy is the energy an object possesses due to its motion. In a car crash, this energy is transferred from the moving vehicle to the occupants, and it is this transfer of energy that can cause traumatic injuries. When a car crashes, the energy that was once used to propel the vehicle forward is suddenly dissipated in an instant, causing the vehicle and its occupants to come to a rapid stop.


The force of this sudden stop can cause the occupants to experience a variety of injuries, including whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly jerked forward and then back, causing damage to the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Spinal cord injuries can occur when the force of the crash causes the vertebrae to compress or fracture, which can lead to paralysis or loss of sensation. Traumatic brain injuries can also occur when the brain is jolted inside the skull, causing bruising, bleeding, or swelling.


The severity of the injuries caused by a car crash depends on several factors, including the speed of the vehicle, the angle of the collision, and the size and weight of the vehicles involved. High-speed crashes are more likely to cause severe injuries due to the greater amount of kinetic energy involved, while side-impact crashes can be particularly dangerous due to the lack of protection provided by the vehicle's doors. In addition, larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs can cause more damage in a crash than smaller vehicles, due to their greater mass and momentum.


The Effect of Adrenaline In After An Auto Accident


When a person experiences a car accident, their body goes through a series of physiological responses, including the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. The release of adrenaline triggers the body's "fight or flight" response, which prepares the body to respond to the perceived danger.


In a car accident, the sudden impact and noise can trigger a surge of adrenaline in the body, causing a person to feel a rush of energy and heightened alertness. This can also lead to a temporary reduction in pain and a sense of numbness. While the release of adrenaline can be helpful in certain situations, it can also mask the severity of injuries sustained in a car accident.


Common Injuries Sustained in a Car Crash


Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more serious and even life-threatening injuries. However, some injuries are more common than others, and knowing what they are can help you take steps to prevent them or seek prompt medical attention if you are involved in an accident. Here are some of the most common car accident injuries:


Whiplash


Whiplash is a common injury that occurs in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions. It is a type of neck injury that is caused by a sudden, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. When a car is hit from behind, for example, the head is thrown forward and then rapidly back, causing the neck to snap back and forth. This sudden motion can damage the soft tissues in the neck, including the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.


Broken bones


A broken bone is a common injury in car accidents, particularly in high-speed collisions or accidents where the vehicle rolls over. Bones in the arms, legs, ribs, sternum, and pelvis are particularly susceptible to fractures in car accidents. In some cases, a broken bone may be obvious immediately after a car accident, with visible deformities or significant pain. In other cases, a fracture may not be apparent until days or even weeks after the accident, when pain and swelling become more severe.


Treatment for a broken bone will depend on the severity and location of the fracture. Simple fractures may only require immobilization with a cast or brace, while more complex fractures may require surgery. In addition to medical treatment, rehabilitation may be necessary to regain strength and mobility after the injury.


Back injuries


Back injuries are common in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions or accidents involving high speeds. The force of impact can cause spinal trauma, resulting in a range of injuries, including herniated or bulging discs, fractured vertebrae, and spinal cord damage.


Herniated or bulging discs are common back injuries that can occur in a car accident. These injuries occur when the outer layer of a spinal disc tears, causing the soft inner material to bulge out. This can put pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain and discomfort. In some cases, a herniated disc may require surgery, such as a discectomy, to remove the damaged portion of the disc.


Fractured vertebrae are another common back injury that can occur in car accidents. These injuries can range from minor cracks to severe fractures that can cause spinal cord damage. Treatment for a fractured vertebra will depend on the severity of the injury, but may include immobilization with a brace or surgery to stabilize the spine.


In some cases, a car accident can cause spinal trauma, resulting in nerve damage or paralysis. Treatment for spinal cord damage will depend on the severity of the injury, but may include surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.


Traumatic brain injuries


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a common injury resulting from car accidents. The impact from a car accident can cause the brain to hit the skull, leading to brain dysfunction. The severity of a TBI can vary, and symptoms may include blurred vision, headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion, and sensory disturbances.


It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know has a TBI. A neurologist can evaluate the severity of the injury and develop a treatment plan. Rest is a critical component of treatment for TBIs, as the brain needs time to heal. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms such as headaches or seizures.


In severe cases of TBIs, anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries can occur. An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is completely deprived of oxygen, while a hypoxic brain injury occurs when the brain receives insufficient oxygen. These types of injuries can result in long-term or permanent brain damage. Treatment for anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries may include oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy to promote healing and prevent further damage.


Cuts and bruises


Cuts and bruises are among the most common injuries sustained in auto accidents. They can occur as a result of impact with the vehicle's interior or exterior, broken glass, or flying debris. Cuts and bruises may be minor, requiring only basic first aid, or more severe, requiring medical attention.


Minor cuts and bruises can usually be treated with cleaning the wound and applying a bandage or sterile dressing. However, deeper cuts that penetrate the skin and cause bleeding may require stitches or medical attention. It is essential to keep the wound clean and dry to avoid infection.


Bruises, also known as contusions, occur when the body sustains an impact that causes bleeding beneath the skin. They are usually not serious and will fade over time. However, severe bruises can cause significant pain and swelling and may require medical attention. Ice and rest can help alleviate pain and swelling.


Internal injuries


Internal injuries are a common occurrence in car accidents and can be categorized into two main types: decelerating trauma and penetrating trauma. Decelerating trauma occurs when a person's body comes to an abrupt stop. such as in a head-on collision, causing internal organs to shift and collide with other structures in the body, resulting in injuries such as broken ribs, crush injuries, collapsed lungs, and organ damage. Penetrating trauma occurs when an object penetrates the body, causing injuries such as ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, and other injuries that can be life-threatening.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), internal injuries are often silent injuries that may not show symptoms immediately after the accident. This makes it critical for individuals involved in car accidents to seek medical attention immediately, even if they feel fine. Medical professionals can evaluate them for internal injuries that may not show symptoms until later.


Treatment for internal injuries depends on the severity of the injury. In some cases, rest and observation may be sufficient. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the injury and prevent further damage.


Understanding Whiplash and Spinal Cord Injuries


Whiplash is a common injury that occurs in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions. It happens when the head is suddenly jerked forward and then back, causing damage to the soft tissues in the neck. Whiplash can be very painful and may lead to long-term complications if not properly treated.

Spinal cord injuries are also a significant concern in car accidents. These injuries occur when the spinal cord is damaged due to trauma, which can result in a loss of sensation and motor function below the level of the injury. Spinal cord injuries can be life-changing and may require long-term rehabilitation and medical care.


Symptoms of whiplash typically include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. In some cases, the symptoms may not appear immediately after the accident, but may develop over time. Treatment for whiplash typically involves rest, pain management, and physical therapy to help strengthen the neck muscles and improve range of motion.


In contrast, the symptoms of spinal cord injuries may include loss of sensation and motor function, difficulty breathing, and loss of bowel or bladder control. Immediate medical attention is required for suspected spinal cord injuries to prevent further damage and improve the chances of recovery. Treatment for spinal cord injuries may include surgery, rehabilitation, and assistive devices to help with mobility.


Preventing whiplash and spinal cord injuries in car accidents can be challenging, but wearing a seat belt and maintaining a safe following distance can help reduce the risk of these injuries. Additionally, seeking medical attention promptly after a car accident, even if you do not immediately feel any symptoms, is important to ensure that any potential injuries are properly diagnosed and treated.


Traumatic Brain Injuries and Concussions


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions are common injuries that can occur in car accidents. These injuries can have serious long-term effects on a person's physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Understanding the severity of these injuries and the symptoms associated with them is important for individuals involved in car accidents.


TBIs and concussions can be classified into three grades: grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3. Grade 1 TBIs and concussions are mild and usually resolve on their own within a few days. Symptoms of a grade 1 TBI or concussion may include headache, dizziness, and loss of equilibrium. However, even mild TBIs and concussions can have long-lasting effects, including difficulties with memory, concentration, and problem-solving.


Grade 2 TBIs and concussions are moderate and may require medical attention. Symptoms of a grade 2 TBI or concussion may include amnesia, slurred speech, and ocular disturbances. These symptoms may last for several days or weeks and can affect a person's ability to perform daily activities.


Grade 3 TBIs and concussions are severe and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a grade 3 TBI or concussion may include loss of consciousness, seizures, and profound cognitive impairment. These types of injuries can have long-term effects on a person's ability to function independently, including problems with memory, concentration, and emotional regulation.


In addition to the classification of TBIs and concussions, it is important to understand the various types of symptoms that can occur. These may include physical symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and nausea, as well as cognitive symptoms such as confusion, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. TBIs and concussions can also cause cervical injuries and whiplash, which can result in long-lasting pain and discomfort.


Preventing TBIs and concussions in car accidents can be challenging, but wearing a seat belt and following safe driving practices can help reduce the risk of these injuries. Additionally, seeking medical attention promptly after a car accident, even if you do not immediately feel any symptoms, is important to ensure that any potential TBIs or concussions are properly diagnosed and treated.


The Importance of Wearing a Seat Belt


Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important safety measures that a driver or passenger can take in a car. Seat belts are safety equipment that secure a person in their seat during a crash, preventing them from being thrown forward or out of the vehicle. This can greatly reduce the risk of injury or death in a car accident.


In addition to seat belts, many modern cars are equipped with air bags, which provide an additional layer of protection in the event of a crash. However, air bags are not a substitute for seat belts and should be used in conjunction with them.


Defensive driving practices, such as obeying traffic laws and avoiding distracted driving, can also help reduce the risk of car accidents. However, even the most careful drivers can still be involved in accidents. In these situations, wearing a seat belt can mean the difference between walking away with minor injuries and suffering catastrophic injuries or death.


It is important to note that wearing a seat belt is not only important for personal safety, but it is also the law in many countries. In some places, failing to wear a seat belt can result in fines or other penalties. However, the consequences of not wearing a seat belt go far beyond the legal repercussions. The risk of injury or death in a car accident is much higher for those who do not wear seat belts.


Safety Tips to Prevent Car Accidents


Car accidents can have serious consequences, including injuries, property damage, and even death. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of car accidents, there are several safety tips that drivers can follow to help prevent them.


One of the most important safety tips is to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles on the road. This means leaving enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you so that you can safely stop in the event of an unexpected stop or accident. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a distance of at least one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed.


Another important safety tip is to be extra cautious when approaching intersections. Intersections are one of the most common locations for car accidents, so it is important to approach them with caution. Always obey traffic signals and signs, and look both ways before entering an intersection. Be especially careful when turning left, as this maneuver requires crossing lanes of oncoming traffic.


In addition to maintaining a safe distance and being cautious at intersections, there are several other safety tips that drivers can follow to help prevent car accidents. These include avoiding distracted driving, such as texting or using a mobile phone while driving, and avoiding driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


Seeking Medical Attention After a Car Crash


Car accidents can be a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. Even if you don't feel any pain or discomfort immediately after the accident, people injured in a car accident should go to the emergency room, an urgent care office, or to their primary care physician.


One common mistake that people make after a car accident is not seeking medical attention because they feel fine. However, many injuries don't present symptoms right away. Additionally, seeking medical attention after a car crash is important for insurance and legal purposes.


When seeking medical attention after a car accident, it's important to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible to your healthcare provider. This will help them accurately diagnose and treat any injuries you may have sustained. It's also important to follow your doctor's instructions for any recommended tests, procedures, or medications.


In some cases, seeking medical attention after a car accident may be expensive, but it's important not to let this discourage you from seeking treatment. Many insurance policies cover medical expenses related to car accidents, and you may be entitled to compensation if the accident was caused by someone else's negligence. Additionally, many hospitals and clinics offer payment plans or financial assistance programs for those who are unable to pay for their medical bills upfront.


Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After a Car Crash


Being involved in a car crash can be a traumatic experience that can have a lasting impact on a person's mental health. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common psychological condition that can develop in the aftermath of a car accident. Symptoms of PTSD can include anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and nightmares. Coping with PTSD after a car crash can be challenging, but there are steps that can be taken to help manage the condition.


One of the most effective ways to cope with PTSD after a car crash is to seek professional help. Therapy can be an important part of the recovery process and can help a person learn to manage their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and prolonged exposure therapy are two types of therapy that have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. These therapies can help a person identify and change negative thought patterns and learn coping strategies for managing their symptoms.


Self-care is another important aspect of coping with PTSD after a car crash. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. It is also important to avoid using drugs or alcohol as a way of coping, as this can worsen symptoms and lead to other problems.


Support from loved ones can also be an important part of coping with PTSD after a car crash. Talking to friends and family members about the experience can help a person process their feelings and emotions. Loved ones can also offer practical support, such as helping with daily tasks or providing transportation if driving is too difficult.


Finally, defensive driving practices can also be helpful in preventing future car accidents and reducing the risk of developing PTSD again. This can include following traffic laws, avoiding distracted driving, and staying alert and aware while on the road.


Recovering from Injuries and Rehabilitation after a Car Crash


Recovering from these injuries can be a long and difficult process, both physically and emotionally. Rehabilitation after a car crash is an important part of the recovery process and can help a person regain their mobility and independence.


One of the biggest challenges that people face after a car crash is dealing with medical bills and expenses. The cost of medical treatment can add up quickly, and many people are left wondering how they will pay for their care. In some cases, it may be possible to seek compensation for medical bills, as well as pain and suffering and other damages related to the car accident. This may involve pursuing a legal claim against the party responsible for the accident, such as through a personal injury lawsuit.


Rehabilitation after a car crash can involve a range of treatments, depending on the nature and severity of the injuries. This may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other types of therapy and rehabilitation. These treatments can help a person regain their strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Rehabilitation can also help with pain management, reducing the need for medication and other treatments.


Settlements can also play a role in the recovery process after a car accident. A settlement is an agreement between the injured party and the responsible party or their insurance company. The settlement may involve a financial payment to cover medical bills, property damage, and other expenses related to the car accident. Settlements can help provide financial support for people who are struggling to cope with the aftermath of a car crash.

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