Even though you don’t want to be in a car accident, it’s highly likely you’ll be in several over the course of your life. Statistically speaking, you should expect to be in a car accident about once every 18 years.

The experience itself can be jolting to your body.

As your car suddenly stops, your body remains in motion until:

  • Your seatbelt or airbag restrains you
  • You forcefully come into hard contact with a piece of the car (steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, etc.), or
  • You hit the ground after being ejected from your vehicle.

Even with the recent major advances made in vehicle safety, your body is still in an incredibly vulnerable position when you’re behind the wheel. It should come as no surprise that car accidents are consistently among the top causes for accidental injury and death in the U.S.

What Are the Most Common Injuries From Car Accidents?

Although signs of many car accident injuries are immediately noticeable, others can take days or even weeks before revealing themselves.

Here is a listing of the most common injuries we see from car accidents.

  • Whiplash. Although whiplash is often comically portrayed in movies and TV shows, it’s serious business. Most often caused by the sudden jerking movement of a rear-end crash, whiplash can result in chronic pain, and difficulty with your ability to concentrate and sleep.
  • Concussion and other head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can be especially dangerous if not treated properly. With the potential to affect your ability to think, sleep, and function normally, traumatic brain injuries can even affect your personality and moods. Their effects can last for weeks, months, or even years.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries. Because much of your nervous system is connected to your spinal cord, a back injury can result in losing bodily function in one or more of your limbs. It can even lead to paralysis. If a vertebrae in your spine ruptures or shifts from its natural position, it can lead to excruciating chronic pain.
  • Abdominal injuries. Major internal organs (lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, and others) are exposed to serious damage if your chest or abdomen is damaged. When this happens, surgery is often the only option to repair the damage and stop any internal bleeding.
  • Broken ribs and other bones. It doesn’t take a particularly heavy impact to break one of your ribs. Because our rib cages expand as we breathe and exhale, a broken rib can be a very painful experience. Other broken bones (hips, arms, legs, shoulders) are common because of the unnatural amount of force generated when two or more cars collide.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While we normally associate PTSD with military service, it’s often a very real condition for car accident victims. There’s no getting around the fact that a car accident can be an emotionally disturbing event. Many car accident victims experience tremendous mental and emotional injuries.

In many cases, car accident victims initially feel their injuries aren’t serious enough for treatment. Unfortunately, when treatment or medical attention is not sought, the pain and associated problems only get gradually worse over time.

How Soon Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident?

As quickly as possible. Even if you feel fine following a minor fender bender, you need to be thoroughly examined by a licensed physician.

This is crucial for two reasons.

  1. Once you describe the accident, your doctor should know what injuries to look for. Because it can take time for certain injuries to reveal themselves to you, getting started with any necessary treatment as quickly as possible will speed up your recovery.
  2. Your visit to the doctor initiates a documentation trail, which will be valuable to you if you decide to take legal action against the person who caused the accident. Your doctor’s office visit also proves that you were concerned enough about your potential injuries to be seen by a doctor.

If an ambulance responds to the accident, that’s a ride you need to take. Any out of pocket costs stemming directly from the accident (ambulance transportation, costs of medical treatment already incurred and anticipated for recovery, loss of wages, decreased ability to earn a living, etc.) may be recovered through a personal injury claim.

After being seen by a doctor, your next call should be to a personal injury attorney with a record of success in handling car accident cases. Your attorney can lift a great burden from your shoulders by handling all negotiations with the at-fault person’s insurance provider and building your case while you concentrate on your recovery.