Car accidents are a surprisingly common occurrence. According to DriverKnowdledge, there are 6 million accidents in the U.S. each year. While only a percentage of those accidents are fatal, many of them cause physical injuries to drivers and passengers alike. If you ever happen to be in a car accident, whether major or minor, here are the kind of injuries you can expect.


Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a rapid back and forth motion of your neck, often caused in rear-end accidents. The impact from behind causes your body to quickly lurch forward before settling back, causing whiplash. This strain on your neck will typically take a few weeks to recover from, but can sometimes lead to chronic neck pain.

Herniated Disc

While less common than whiplash, a herniated disc is caused by a similar reaction. As your body reacts to the force of the collision, the tissue between the vertebrae of your spine can rupture and cause severe pain. A herniated disc can put pressure on the nerves near your spine, which can lead to loss of movement in some of your limbs.

Leg and Knee Injuries

Drivers and passengers involved in collisions can injure themselves by striking their knee on the dashboard after being hurtled forward. This can cause many different types of injuries to the knee, ranging from shattered kneecaps to torn cartilage. These are painful conditions that sometimes require surgery. It’s best to monitor your knees for pain and inflammation after the accident, as injury to your cartilage or tendons may not be apparent right away.

Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by an accident if your head whips too quickly or severely, or if your head is somehow impacted, or strikes against an object in your car. These injuries can cause long-term damage and are often not easy to spot right away.

You may heal your physical injuries, and only months later notice that you have become more forgetful or are having other changes to your mental function. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention right away if a head injury is suspected, especially if you were knocked unconscious or given a concussion during the crash, and to monitor for TBI in the weeks after the crash.

Shoulder Injuries

If you are wearing your seatbelt during a crash (and you should be!), you may experience pain on the shoulder covered by the strap. The strap will hold you back as you are thrown forward, but it may cause a twisting motion to your body. You could experience slight bruising or a strain, or more serious conditions like torn ligaments. If not cared for properly, these issues could become chronic.

Psychological Injuries

While physical injuries are common during car accidents, the psychological effects should be monitored as well. After a traumatic event such as a car crash, survivors can develop phobias around driving, extreme anxiety, or panic attacks when in cars, and can even become afraid to leave their homes because of it. It’s important to get help from a psychologist or psychotherapist when dealing with trauma and phobias, so that fear or cars doesn’t become a life-altering problem.


Injuries after a car accident can be incredibly serious, and in many cases, not visible at first and likely to get worse over time. That’s why it’s important to always seek medical treatment after an accident, have your injuries documented by a physician, and engage in post-accident healing, such as physical therapy. If you believe your injuries entitle you to compensation, you can contact a car wreck lawyer to calculate your medical bills, pain and suffering, and even potential wage loss.