When two cars crash, more than just metal and metal collide. The actual vehicle impact is just the first of a series of three impacts that lead to millions of injuries and even deaths each year. There is a vehicle impact, a body impact and then an organ impact.
Understanding the type of impact(s) that occurred can help determine the potential
physical injuries suffered. Not all injuries are visible from the moment of the crash.
The first impact isn’t necessarily limited to two cars; it occurs whenever the vehicle hits another object, such as a tree, a truck, a motorcycle, a pedestrian or a cyclist, to name a few. The first impact often creates the visible damage to the vehicle-a crushed bumper, a broken windshield, dents or other damage.
The second impact is that of the body hitting something inside or outside of the car. The car may have stopped suddenly on the first impact, but the driver is still travelling at the same speed until he or she physically collides with another object. Often, that object is the steering wheel, the dashboard or the windshield.
The crash does not end here. There is a third and last impact in a motor vehicle accident: organ impact. This occurs when an organ in the body has impact with an internal structure that supports the organ, for example, when a brain impacts the skull.
Types of Collisions and Clues as to Impacts and Injuries
In a head-on collision, clues to the types of injuries expected can be found in the extent of the front-end damage of the vehicle and the damage to the windshield, steering wheel and dashboard. Windshield damage can cause head, scalp, face or
neck injury, while dashboard damage might indicate knee, femur, hip, pelvic, head, face or C-spine injuries.
In what is generally called a T-Bone Collision, vehicle impact could include damage to the car doors, while the body impact might occur where the door, arm rests or other parts of the car intrude into the injured individual’s space inside the car. Organ impact includes the possibility of head, C-spine, chest, abdominal, upper arm, shoulder, clavicle, pelvic, hip or femur injuries.
Potential injuries from rear-impact collisions include strains, torn ligaments and cervical injuries. Rollover collisions can involve a multitude of injuries that are difficult to determine without a thorough exam.
Car accidents can have dangerous consequences; understanding what happened during a car crash can help you understand your injuries, both those you can see now and those that may not show symptoms until much later.