7 Common Car Accident Injuries in California
With more than 39 million residents, California is the most populous state in the country. The state’s roads are clogged with nearly as many registered vehicles—more than 36 million! With all that traffic, it’s not surprising that there are many car accidents each year—and inevitably, injuries and fatalities as a result.
In 2019, California’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) reported the following statistics for the Golden State:
- Fatalities: 3,737
- Fatal crashes: 3,438
- Injuries: 269,031
- Injury crashes: 187,211
If you lost a loved one in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, the wrongful death lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you seek compensation for your financial losses and emotional suffering.
In this blog, though, we focus on the most common injuries resulting from car crashes.
Common Car Accident Injuries: National Statistics
Although there are no national or state statistics on specific injuries from car accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does track more general injury statistics:
- An incapacitating injury prevents an injured person from continuing the normal activities they engaged in before an accident. Examples include severe cuts, broken bones, or someone who’s taken from the scene of an accident unconscious.
- A non-incapacitating injury is an injury that’s evident to others at the scene of an accident but is not severe enough to be incapacitating.
The NHTSA reported the following national statistics for 2021:
- Incapacitating injuries: 184,204
- Non-incapacitating injuries: 852,404
- Other injuries: 1,461,048
- Total injuries: 2,497,657
These statistics do not include the 42,939 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2021. They do give an indication of how serious injuries appear at the scene of an accident. But they don’t tell the whole story. One person may walk away from a car crash but later show symptoms of a serious back injury. Another person may be unconscious at the scene of a crash but only have a minor concussion.
The following sections discuss how injuries occur in motor vehicle collisions and the most common injuries observed by Chain | Cohn | Clark’s experienced car accident lawyers in their practice.
What Causes Injuries in Motor Vehicle Collisions?
Impacts are the most common cause of car accident injuries—the driver or passengers colliding with parts of the car itself or with loose objects moving within the car. Even when a car is mostly intact after a crash, the occupants may be injured by various impacts:
- A broken nose from hitting an airbag
- Bruises across the chest and shoulders from seat belts
- Broken ribs from the driver’s chest striking the steering wheel
- Sprained knee ligaments from colliding with the dashboard
Penetrating injuries are less common but not unusual—these occur when an object (e.g., broken glass) punctures the skin.
Even more rarely, vehicle occupants are burned due to a fire started by an accident.
Common California Car Accident Injuries
Here’s a rundown of the most common injuries we see in our Bakersfield, California, law offices:
1. Soft-Tissue Injuries
Soft-tissue injuries are contusions (bruises) and bumps caused by any part of the body impacting parts of the car in a collision. Although these may not be the most serious injuries, they do leave accident victims sore and uncomfortable.
2. Head Injuries
It’s very common for a driver or passengers to hit their head on a window, airbag, steering wheel, dashboard, or other vehicle surface. Head injuries—which result from a blow to the head—are often described as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Another common term, concussion, is a synonym for a TBI. Some TBIs are mild and clear up within a few days or a couple of weeks. Others are severe and result in lifelong disabilities or death.
3. Neck, Back, and Spine Injuries
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that results from the neck snapping back and forth rapidly in a crash. Although whiplash is often associated with rear-end collisions, it can occur in any wreck. Injuries to the neck or back—such as a herniated disc—can be very painful and may require surgical repair. A broken neck or back can result in a severed spinal cord and paralysis.
4. Sprains and Strains
Putting out a hand or foot to brace for impact results in many sprained wrists, ankles, and knees as tendons and ligaments are overstretched.
5. Broken Bones
Broken limbs also occur as people brace for impact or are jerked around in a collision. In addition, head impacts may result in skull fractures, and impacts on the torso may crack ribs, the collarbone, or the sternum.
In rare cases, a broken or crushed limb may need to be amputated. If you or a loved one lost a limb in a car accident caused by another driver, the amputation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you receive damages, including compensation for your treatment, rehabilitation, disability, and suffering.
6. Internal Injuries
Strong impacts can cause injuries that aren’t immediately evident. Internal injuries like internal bleeding or organ damage can be serious—even life-threatening—so if you are in a crash, it’s wise to get a medical exam even if you don’t think you’re injured.
7. Psychological Injuries
Like internal injuries, the psychological impact of a car accident isn’t evident to a casual observer. But car accidents can cause vehophobia (a fear of driving) or result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you are in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to receive damages for psychological injuries as well as physical injuries.
Kern County Accident Statistics
Bakersfield and Kern County are not immune to the rash of auto accidents that plague Californians. Data from the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Information Mapping System (TIMS) show the following recent statistics for Kern County:
Kern County Fatal and Injury Crash Statistics
|Crashes With Fatalities or Injuries
|All Fatalities and Injuries
|Distracted Driving Involved
|No Seat Belt
Experienced Bakersfield Car Accident Attorneys
No matter what type of injuries you have—from a minor case of whiplash to a serious traumatic brain injury—recovering from a car accident is layered with stress. There’s the healing process from physical injury, plus the often more subtle psychological distress many people feel. On top of that, you may be concerned about car repairs and missing time from work, too.
If another driver caused your accident, you should be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Chain | Cohn | Clark’s car accident lawyers can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact the personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark today.