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What Are Some Potential Injuries You May Sustain During a Car Accident?

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Spinal Cord Injury

One of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident—and one of the most severe—is a spinal cord injury. The impact of a car accident can cause trauma to the spine, spinal cord, and spinal cord nerves even if the crash was not severe or violent. Spinal cord injuries from collisions can even lead to paralysis. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), nearly 40% of all spine injuries are caused by car accidents.[1] Due to the low level of standard for car manufacturing, absence or inadequacy of appropriate safety measures in cars, poorly designed roads and problems in quality of driving—such as texting and driving—the chance of sustaining a serious spinal injury and associated injuries is extremely high.

Several factors can also exacerbate the conditions of a spinal cord injury, including: (1) whether a person’s head was turned at the time of the accident; (2) whether a person was seated in a particular position in the vehicle; and (3) whether a person suffered from pre-existing conditions such as degenerative disc disease. Spinal cord injury victims are prone to significant immobility, leading to an increase of medical interventions. It is imperative to consult a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose potential damage before pursuing a claim. 

Whiplash Injury

Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs after a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Additional symptoms include: (1) Whiplash is very similar to neck sprains and neck strains and can vary in severity due to trauma sustained in an accident. Whiplash commonly occurs in rear-end car accidents, where the person whose vehicle was struck snaps their neck due to the impact. But whiplash can occur from any form of collision with another vehicle.

While most people with whiplash are able to cure their ailment by taking over-the-counter pain medication, exercise and/or rest, some people continue to suffer from chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications. Because neck injuries such as whiplash can have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day life if left untreated, it is important to seek medical attention following a car accident and further medical attention should you experience persistent whiplash symptoms.

Shoulder Injury

The force of a car accident can lead to a shoulder injury, especially if a person braced themselves by putting their arms out on the dashboard to prevent injury to their head or chest. Common symptoms of a shoulder injury include: (1) shooting pain up the shoulder; (2) tingling like pins-and-needles; (3) numbness; (4) burning sensations; and/or (5) a complete loss of motion.

The shoulder damage a person may sustain during a car accident can cause life-long pain and discomfort. Treatment and recovery can be expensive and drawn out. In some instances, it may take up to five months of treatment and rehabilitation before a shoulder injury is completely healed.[2] One study found that 95% of people who were in rear-end car accidents and who suffered a shoulder injury still reported pain to their doctor seven years post-accident.[3]

Concussions and Brain Related Injuries

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is an injury that can lead to such conditions as short-term memory loss and long-term personality changes. It is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible; if left untreated, a concussion can lead to lingering symptoms, even fatal consequences. Any injury to the brain must be taken seriously, and all symptoms should be properly addressed.

Many concussion symptoms mimic those of other types of mTBI that can be deadly if left untreated, such as bleeding on the brain or uncontrolled intracranial pressure. Insurance companies and juries recognize that concussions are a type of brain injury, and they take these cases seriously. New York law is designed to put you in the position you enjoyed before the wreck.

Internal Bleeding

The trauma sustained from a car accident can cause blood vessels in your body to rupture if you have been dangerously struck by another vehicle. Symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to life threatening, depending on where in the body the bleeding is occurring and the severity of the blood loss. More often than not, surgery is required to stop internal bleeding and repair the ruptured vessels.

The most frequent signs of internal bleeding includes: (1) swelling or pain in the abdomen, especially if it gets worse over time; (2) severe fatigue; (3) blood in urine or stools; (4) vomiting blood; (5) deep purple, flat bruises at the spot of internal bleeding known as ecchymosis; (6) pallor/pale complexion; (7) chills; (8) dizziness; (9) confusion; (10) a painful headache; (11) low blood pressure; and/or (12) loss of consciousness. It is imperative to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

Emotional Distress

Not all injuries are physical; psychological injuries from a car accident can have a major impact on your daily life, preventing you from engaging in daily activities such as work and even sleep. Car accident victims can be prone to vivid nightmares and bouts of depression after the event. In instances where there emotional injuries caused by car accidents are so severe, the average person may need at least three years of treatment in order to return to a state of pre-accident mental health.

What To Do At the Scene of the Accident

After an accident, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re safe and not in a position where you’re likely to be injured further (for example, from other traffic).

If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, it’s important to remain as still as you safely can until you’ve been evaluated by a medical professional. Call 911 or ask someone nearby to call so you can be evaluated as soon as possible. The medical professional on scene will decide when and how to move you. If there is any suspicion of a spinal injury, it’s better to go directly to the hospital to be evaluated. Do not take any chances if you think any of the aforementioned injuries—especially a spinal cord injury—is even a possibility.

After the Accident

You may not realize you have a potential spinal cord injury until days or weeks after the accident. It’s not too late for medical attention. See your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be diagnosed and begin receiving treatment quickly.


It is possible you can receive compensation for any injury suffered during a car accident. If you are considering making a personal injury claim for your car accident and any injuries you may have sustained, it is important that you are well-prepared; keep a detailed record of the accident, your symptoms, and your medical treatment and expenses.

Depending on your car insurance coverage, you might also be able to have your injuries covered. However, because New York is a no-fault state, your own insurance covers your medical bills and other losses after an accident. Your options for pursuing a lawsuit and recovering compensation for losses like “pain and suffering” are limited when you’re injured in a car accident in New York.

[1] National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), “Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance,” 2019 SCI Data Sheet

[2] Dang A, Davies M. Rotator Cuff Disease: Treatment Options and Considerations. Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2018 Sep;26(3):129-133.

[3] A Berglund, L Alfredsson, J D Cassidy, I Jensen, A Nygren: The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future neck or shoulder pain: a cohort study, 2000 Nov;53(11):1089-94

[4] J. Gayle Beck, Scott F. Coffey: Assessment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations, 2007 Dec; 38(6): 629–639



This information is the most up to date news available as of the date posted. Please be advised that any information posted on the KI Legal Blog or Social Channels is being supplied for informational purposes only and is subject to change at any time. For more information, and clarity surrounding your individual organization or current situation, contact a member of the KI Legal team

KI Legal Personal Injury fights for victims of a wide array of personal injury claims, from Motor Vehicle Accidents to Scaffolding and Ladder Falls to Slip/Trip & Falls, amongst others. By leveraging its multidisciplinary foundation and, with the help of its experienced litigators, KI Legal Personal Injury can fight for the results and compensation that victims deserve without pushing for premature settlements due to financial reasons. This financial paradigm shift swings the pendulum in our favor when it comes to negotiating with insurance carriers, inherently leading to better results for clients. For the latest updates.

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