Common injuries from side impact accidents include whiplash, spinal injuries, blunt-force trauma, broken bones, and numerous other types of injuries. In a report published by StatPearls, trauma ranks first among the causes of morbidity and mortality in victims under 35. The severity of the injury depends on how it takes place and the victim’s health before the collision.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that 6,432 fatal accidents in 2020 resulted from angled collisions, including broadside and T-bone accidents. Another 950 deadly accidents occurred due to sideswipe collisions. Depending on the model of the vehicle and the degree of impact, passengers may not have as much protection from safety devices during a side-impact accident. A body suddenly and violently jerking sideways can cause soft-tissue and skeletal injuries.
Common Injuries From Side-Impact Car Accidents
Side-impact car accidents can produce the same types of injuries as any other type of accident. However, injuries can be more severe due to the side-to-side jostling that occurs with side impacts.
When you travel in a vehicle, your body travels at the same speed as the car. With an impact, the car’s forward motion stops abruptly, but your body continues traveling. This continued action may cause you to hit the dashboard or cause bruising from the seat belt. In a side impact, your forward motion joins with a sudden sideways jolt, creating a wider avenue for injury.
We’ve discussed some common injuries below, but there is no possible way to include all potential injuries.
Whiplash is extremely common in rear-end collisions, but can also occur in side-impact accidents. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, whiplash happens when your head is suddenly thrust backward, then forward, from side to side, or a combination of these actions. The rapid motion causes the neck to stretch, putting pressure on your spinal column.
Whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Hand or arm pain or numbness
- Ringing in your ears
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty with concentration or memory
- Irritability, tiredness, and sleeplessness
Whiplash is difficult to diagnose and is classified as a soft-tissue injury. It can be detected using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other diagnostic scans, but it is typically not evident on x-rays.
Head Trauma And Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when the head impacts a solid object. It can also be a secondary effect of whiplash, when the brain impacts the inside of the skull during a collision. You may not recognize a TBI immediately; symptoms can appear days, weeks, or even months after an accident.
TBI symptoms to be aware of include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent headache
- Numbness throughout the body
Some cases of TBI resolve after a short time, while others have long-term effects.
Broken Bones, Lacerations, Bumps, And Bruises
Side-impact accidents often cause cuts, bumps, bruises, and broken bones. Always seek medical attention after an accident. Even a seemingly minor laceration can create problems if it becomes infected, and you may also have internal injuries that are not immediately obvious.
Chest And Abdominal Injuries
Journal of Passenger Cars: Mechanical Systems Journal reported in 2000 that nearly half of all side-impact motor vehicle collisions that led to injuries caused trauma to the chest and abdomen. These crashes often affect the thoracic aorta, as the study reveals that aortic injury occurs in 1 in 5 chest and abdominal injuries. The victims who most commonly suffer these injuries include women and older adults.
In 2008, the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) found that rib fractures, which are often considered relatively minor injuries for younger victims in car accidents, also carry a high risk of complications and mortality for adults aged 60 and older.
Side-impact accidents can cause damage to the lungs, ribs, heart, and other internal organs, including the liver, kidney, and bladder. Many of these injuries may show no outward signs and worsen over time.
Pelvic And Lower Extremity Injuries
Victims of car accidents frequently suffer injuries to the pelvis and lower limbs. Injuries caused by a side-impact collision carry a doubled risk of mortality.
A 2016 study in Medical Science Monitor found that upper-leg fractures more commonly affected drivers, while victims who suffered a broken pelvis were typically passengers. Male victims in the study had a higher risk of pelvic fractures, often requiring long recovery times and leading to a disability.
Neck, Back, And Spinal Injuries
The auto and insurance industries conduct frequent testing using crash-simulation technology to evaluate the effects of various vehicle collisions. During side-impact crash testing, the following injuries have been noted:
- Severe spinal fractures
- Sprains, strains, and broken bones in the neck and back
- Partial or complete paralysis due to spinal cord injuries
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in younger individuals in the U.S. These injuries can result in lifetime pain and suffering and a lower degree of function, creating hardship and disability.
With a side-impact crash, the neck absorbs much of the force. The head and body continue their forward motion while simultaneously being thrust sideways. This action stretches muscles and ligaments, causing soft tissue damage and sometimes breaks in the bones supporting the neck.
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Types Of Side-Impact Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that nearly one in five accidents are side impacts. Most people think of side-impact accidents as T-bone crashes, where one vehicle collides at a 90-degree angle with another car. In truth, side-impact accidents can take many forms. Any accident where two or more vehicles collide at an angle can cause side-impact-related injuries.
Sideswipe accidents occur when two vehicles are traveling in the same direction and one drifts out of its lane, connecting with the second vehicle. A sideswipe can also involve a single vehicle coming into contact with a stationary object, such as a pole or guardrail.
A driver’s panic and over-correction can often worsen the resulting damage from a sideswipe accident, which can lead to cascading effects and additional points of impact.
In a National Safety Commission (NSC) report, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that more than 242,000 accidents occur on American highways involving sideswipes. These sideswipe collisions result in 27,000 injuries yearly and more than 2,500 fatalities. Sideswipe accidents can have a variety of causes, including:
- Failing to check blind spots before lane changes
- Distracted driving
- Drivers consuming food or beverages while driving
- Tired drivers drifting into adjacent lanes
- Drivers under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol
- Not signaling a lane change
- Swerving to avoid road debris
- Drivers simultaneously changing into the same lane
- Road rage or other reckless practices, including speeding
- Hydroplaning or other weather-related incidents
Sideswipe accidents can result in minor or severe damage, depending on many factors. Regardless of the accident’s severity, you should stop, assess the damages, and follow proper procedures.
T-bone accidents are also called broadside accidents. They frequently occur at intersections, when one vehicle turns left across oncoming traffic lanes or a driver runs a red light as opposing traffic begins moving on their green light.
In most T-bone collisions, the fault is failure to yield. The driver executing the turn, the oncoming traveler, or a driver running the red light could be at fault, depending on which driver had the right-of-way. Other T-bone accident causes include:
- Distracted driving, such as texting or using a GPS
- Tired or inattentive driving
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting the stereo
- Defective equipment
- Speeding or reckless driving
The types of injuries from T-bone accidents are often more severe than those from rear-end collisions. The side-to-side force combined with the suddenness of the impact can cause internal injuries. The changes introduced in 49 CFR Parts 571 and 585 214 will decrease side-impact injuries but won’t eliminate the risk.
Secondary Damage And Injuries From Side-Impact Accidents
Sometimes the most significant injuries from side-impact accidents don’t come from the initial vehicle contact, but from rebounds and secondary impacts. A side-impact collision can result in separate crashes when drivers over-correct and careen into other vehicles or stationary objects. The travel route from a side-impact crash can push a car into oncoming traffic lanes or through intersections.
What Compensation Can You Receive For Injuries After A Side-Impact Collision?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. After most vehicle accidents, each driver’s insurance company will pay for damages regardless of who was at fault. The minimum requirements for personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) per Florida Statutes § 627.736 may not cover all the resultant medical problems associated with more severe accidents.
Florida allows additional compensation under Florida Statutes § 627.737, which permits drivers with more severe injuries to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. Some of the types of compensation you may pursue include:
- Assistance with medical costs, including all expenses not covered under PIP
- Lost wages if you can’t work at your job
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
The amount of compensation available for each accident is different. It depends on the circumstances of the accident and your injuries.
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How A Side-Impact Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you have injuries from a side-impact accident, it might benefit you to contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. Our car accident team offers free consultations, so you can discuss your concerns and get real answers. A side-impact car accident attorney can help you in many ways, including:
- Fighting to get you reimbursement for medical expenses
- Seeking compensation for your lost wages
- Ensuring your vehicle is repaired or replaced
- Demanding additional compensation for your pain and suffering
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Our car accident team can investigate your accident, determine the at-fault party, and fight for the compensation you deserve. For a risk-free assessment of your accident and potential claim, contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine.
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