Motor vehicle accidents were responsible for injuring 2.44 million people in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The National Safety Council (NSC) places the number much higher, identifying 4.4 million serious motor vehicle-related injuries in 2015. “Serious” means that the injured individuals sought medical attention. Both sources noted an increase in both fatalities and injuries over those suffered in 2014. The NSC reported that 2.2 million people were seriously injured already during the first 6 months of 2016.
On a state level, the New Jersey Department of Transportation reported that during the 2000 to 2014 timeframe, New Jersey’s public roads saw between 241,740 and 294,851 motor vehicle collisions each of those years. The number of crashes that resulted in injury during this period ranged from 56,882 to 79,169 annually.
Common MVA Injuries
Motor vehicle accident (MVA) injuries can range from minor to catastrophic, and are not limited to physical issues. Motorists and passengers can experience psychological trauma as well. The form and severity of injury sustained is often determined by the type of MVA that the victim has been involved in.
This well-known MVA injury is a soft tissue injury, typically resulting in damage to the spine, including herniated and bulging discs. Whiplash typically initially presents as a neck strain or sprain. The abrupt jerking movement of a car collision jolts the spine, cervical muscles, ligaments, and discs in the neck and upper spine area. Those suffering this very common MVA injury may experience many of these symptoms:
- Neck stiffness
- Neck pain
- Arm and/or hand pain or numbness
- Shoulder and upper back pain
- Lower back discomfort
- Memory and concentration difficulties
- Fatigue, irritability
- Problems sleeping
Back and Spinal Injury
Though whiplash is one of the most common MVA-related injuries, car collisions can result in much more devastating back and spinal injuries, including broken vertebrae, herniated discs, spinal cord injuries and paralysis. These injuries can require invasive procedures and surgeries including epidural injections, discectomy procedures and spinal fusion procedures, among others.
Head and Brain Injury
Closed head injuries are common MVA injuries, and can occur not only in major impact accidents, but also in relatively low-impact accidents. The force of the head impact does not need to be incredibly forceful to cause serious injury. A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can occur even when there are no outward signs of damage or trauma to the head. Other head injuries include facial fractures, blindness, dental and jaw damage, and injury to the ears.
Fractures, Scrapes, Bruises, and Burns
The human body is not designed for hard impacts and collisions. When a person’s body is subjected to this treatment inside a motor vehicle, the result is often broken bones, sprains, bruises, cuts, and more. The deployment of airbags can cause bruising and burns, and seatbelt restraints, while life-saving, can do damage as well. These various types of injuries can impact MVA victims throughout their bodies -- the chest, legs, arms, ankles, wrist, feet, and face. In extremely serious accidents, amputation may also occur.
Mental and emotional stress is common after a traumatic event. Being involved in an MVA can cause psychological damage requiring counseling to overcome. Severe damage can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When a victim experiences a catastrophic injury or someone else dies in the MVA, survivors may experience guilt, anxiety, depression and other psychological issues.
No two MVA’s are identical, just as no two individuals are exactly alike. Therefore, injuries sustained in an MVA vary widely from person to person. The important thing to note is that all damages sustained in an accident may not be readily apparent. Internal injuries are possible, and some serious problems don’t manifest until days or even weeks later. For this reason, it is always advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an MVA to rule out any hidden damage and receive necessary treatment.