Common car accident injuries and how to identify them

12 minute read Published on May 7, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Common car accident injuries and how to identify them

By now, you’re aware of the most common car accidents, but what about the most common types of car accident injuries? Unfortunately, being injured in a car accident is all too common, and there are many different types of injuries that you can sustain in a collision. Below, we outline some of the most frequently reported car accident injuries and how you can identify them.

The most common types of car accident injuries

Understanding what the most common types of car accident injuries are and what symptoms to look for can help you assess yourself if you get into a car accident. From there, you will have a better idea of whether medical attention is required and how to seek treatment. Without further ado, keep reading for a list of the most common types of collision-related injuries:

1. Whiplash

First up is whiplash. Whiplash is easily one of the most common injuries that happen in a car accident. This injury happens when the neck is quickly and violently jolted forward and backward. It can cause the muscles and ligaments in the neck to sprain and can be painful. Perhaps the most common symptom of whiplash is discomfort or pain in the neck. This pain can range between mild to severe and can make it difficult to move one’s head or neck. Stiffness, dizziness, and headaches are other common whiplash symptoms. If you have trouble turning your head, if you start to experience balance problems, or if you start noticing more frequent headaches, regardless of severity, this could be a sign that you suffered whiplash during an accident. Whiplash can last a number of months following an injury, but there is medication that can help alleviate the symptoms, so be sure to speak with a medical professional as soon as possible following the accident.

2. Back and neck injuries

Next up are back and neck injuries. Back and neck injuries go hand-in-hand and usually occur when the force of impact in an accident causes a person’s body to jolt or jerk suddenly. The result is damage to the bones, muscles, and ligaments in a person’s neck or back. Examples of common back and neck injuries after a collision include a herniated disk, which is when a soft core breaks through a crack in the thick outer layer, putting pressure on nearby nerves. Herniated discs may present as pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms, legs, or back. Neck and back strains and sprains are other common examples of these types of injuries, with the main symptoms being pain, limited mobility, and stiffness. Since back and neck injuries can vary in type and severity, there are all kinds of diagnoses and treatments. For example, some people might require physical therapy or surgery while others might be able to fix the problem with medication.

3. Broken bones

Broken bones are a third type of injury that frequently occurs as a result of a collision. Keep in mind that the term “broken bones” refers to everything from minor fractures to more severe breaks. Broken bones might be easily identifiable via swelling, pain, or trouble moving the impacted area. That said, some, like small fractures, may not be immediately apparent and may require an X-ray machine to diagnose. The treatment for a broken bone following a car accident depends on the severity of the fracture, as well as where it is located on the body. For example, a minor fracture may simply require a cast or even rest, whereas something more complex could necessitate surgery.

4. Soft tissue injuries

Soft tissues injuries, which is a fancy term meaning bruises, sprains, strains, and stress fractures, are another commonly reported category of injury following a car accident. Although soft tissue injuries might seem minor, they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort with time. This type of injury might be treated with physical therapy or appointments with a chiropractor. Resting and elevating the affected area is also usually a common treatment, especially if swelling is involved.

5. Traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are yet another common type of car accident injury. TBIs can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal, with examples ranging from mild concussions to severe conditions that lead to long-term cognitive impairment. Signs that you might have a brain injury on your hands include headaches, loss of consciousness, memory loss, and dizziness. If you hit your head during the accident, it’s always best to have yourself checked out by a medical professional.

6. Facial injuries

Facial injuries are another type of injury on this list. They are common due to the fact that your face is usually exposed while driving a car, which means if you get into an accident, the odds of it hitting or being hit by something around you are high. Facial injuries are wide-ranging, including everything from small scrapes, cuts, or bruises to major fractures or even dislocations. The treatment plan for facial injuries may include medication for pain management, stitches to close up deep cuts, and in extreme cases, surgery to repair fractures.

7. Internal injuries

Following a car accident, you should also keep your eyes open for signs of an internal injury. Internal injuries are a type of injury that happens when organs and other structures inside the body are damaged, often as the result of blunt force trauma. Like TBI, these injuries can be fatal, which makes them extremely dangerous. Specific types of internal injuries that you might experience after a vehicle collision include a ruptured spleen, kidney damage, and liver damage. Symptoms for these types of internal injuries include dizziness, internal bleeding, nausea or vomiting, and abdominal pain. Since internal injuries are more difficult to detect, it is critical that you seek medical treatment following a car accident.

8. Psychological injuries

Not all injuries are physical. Car accidents can also affect one’s psyche. There is one type of psychological trauma that most commonly occurs after auto accidents, and that is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that may arise following a traumatic event. It often manifests itself through disturbing thoughts, anxiety, and depression. Treatment may include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. If you are struggling with your mental health following an accident, speak with a professional as soon as possible.

9. Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are yet another type of injury that can happen after a car accident. This is a severe type of injury as it can result in partial or complete paralysis or loss of sensation, which can change a person’s life. Treatment for spinal cord injuries can range from surgery and immobilization to medication and rehabilitation.

10. Burns

Last but not least is burns. A person who was involved in a car accident may also suffer burns if their car caught on fire during the crash. Burns are also a possible outcome if hot metal or plastic in your car comes into contact with your skin. There are three main types of burns. From mild to severe, they are first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. Burn treatment may include wound care, pain medication, and, in extreme cases, skin grafts.

General symptoms to look for after a collision

Now that you know more about the types of injuries that commonly stem from a car accident, let’s consider what symptoms to look out for. Even if you aren’t able to identify what the cause of the symptom might be, being able to recognize that something is wrong with your body is the first step. If you notice any of the following symptoms in the hours, days, weeks, or even months following an auto accident, reach out to a medical professional right away, as they could be a sign of an injury.

  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bruising, redness, or discolouration
  • Tenderness or sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in personality or behaviour
  • Vision issues
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus (ringing ears)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss

A few other symptoms that may be less common or difficult to diagnose but that are worth looking out for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Appetite loss

Seeking treatment for car accident injuries

If you get into a car accident, the best thing you can do is call for medical attention immediately. Even if you think the accident was minor, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. After the accident occurs, call 9-1-1 as soon as you can. If medical professionals do not arrive on the scene, then once it is safe to do so and a police report has been taken, get a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Make sure that you keep a record of all expenses you incur and treatments you receive in the event of a personal injury coverage claim. In addition, make sure that you attend all medical appointments that your doctor requires.

If a medical professional diagnoses you with some type of injury, let your insurance company know. Your insurance company can give you information on the claims process, as well as explain how a personal injury claim can affect insurance. They can also help you cancel a personal injury claim if you wish to do so.

When should you call a doctor following a car accident?

Generally speaking, it is good practice to call a doctor immediately following any type of auto accident, even a minor one, even if you don’t think that you suffered any injuries. The reality is that you might be in shock following an accident, which can make it difficult to determine how you really feel. In addition, there are some types of injuries that do not appear or present themselves right away or at all, such as internal injuries, which is yet another reason that it’s best to visit a medical professional after an accident.

By calling a doctor and booking an appointment, they can evaluate you and perform an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to double-check that there isn’t any additional damage. They can also create a paper trail of your medical treatment and expenses, which you can use if you need to file an insurance claim.

On the other hand, choosing not to seek medical care is incredibly risky, as you could end up with a serious injury. You also would not have any evidence to provide if you decided to file a claim.

Common causes of car accidents

Now that you know what the most common injuries are that arise from car accidents, let’s consider the most common causes of collisions. Knowing these can help you avoid getting into a collision in the first place.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is easily the leading cause of car accidents in Canada. Distracted driving counts as anything that takes your full attention away from the road, whether that be texting, eating, drinking, smoking, applying makeup, changing the radio station, etc. One simple way to avoid distractions while driving is by putting your phone in the backseat.

Impaired driving

Impaired driving is another common cause of collisions. Impaired driving, which is also known as drunk driving, is when you get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is not only dangerous but also illegal. Drunk driving significantly reduces your capabilities and functionalities as a driver, which puts you and others in danger.


Speeding is an all too common driving habit, yet it is frequently the cause of accidents. Speeding is when drivers choose to drive over the speed limit. Speeding minimizes reaction time, which increases the odds of an accident. It can also exacerbate the outcome of an accident, even if it isn’t the sole cause.

Reckless driving

Engaging in reckless or aggressive driving is another cause of car accidents in Canada. Examples of reckless driving range from speeding to changing lanes at the last minute. Both reduce your reaction time and increase the odds of colliding with another car.

Inclement weather

Driving in inclement weather can also cause collisions in Canada. Inclement weather may refer to snow, rain, ice, or fog, though even extreme sun can be dangerous due to sun glare. Ultimately, rain, snow, and ice make the road more slippery, which means less traction and reduced brake time. Low visibility due to fog can also impact one’s reaction time. For this reason, it’s best to avoid driving in inclement weather if you can, or at the very least, take it slow.

Driving at night

Driving in the dark is dangerous because visibility is reduced. This can make it more difficult to see other cars, pedestrians, wildlife, and even turns or curves in the road. Always drive with your low beams on and put your high beams on when appropriate. You can learn more safe driving tips here.

Car insurance if you are injured in a car accident

If you get injured in a car accident, you likely will not be on the hook for the cost of medical expenses - assuming you have car insurance, that is.

Auto insurance is a legal requirement in Canada, which means you must have it if you want to get behind the wheel. The exact types of auto insurance that are required vary from province to province, though all have mandated third-party liability car insurance.

The type of coverage you will claim in the event of personal injury following a car accident depends on the circumstances of the accident. For instance, if you were not at fault for the accident and the person who was at fault has car insurance, then you would likely be covered by their liability car insurance. Liability car insurance is a type of insurance that will pay for all kinds of expenses if you cause a car accident, including repair bills, legal fees, and medical fees incurred by the injured party.

Meanwhile, if you are injured after someone hits you without insurance, then the type of claim you would file would likely be an uninsured automobile insurance claim. Uninsured motorist coverage is specially designed for when a driver gets into an accident with an at-fault motorist who is uninsured, underinsured, or who is anonymous because they fled the scene. Like liability insurance, this type of coverage will pay for medical and repair fees.

One other type of injury-related coverage that you might be able to claim is accident benefits coverage. Accident benefits coverage is mandatory in most parts of Canada and will pay for medical and rehabilitative care following a car accident. It can even cover lost income if you are temporarily unable to work due to your injury and even funeral fees if someone passes away in an accident.

Keep in mind that Ontario has a no-fault insurance system, which means that if you are injured, you will file a claim with your own insurance provider to recoup compensation, not with any other insurance company.

For more information on personal injury claims and what to do if you are injured following a car accident, reach out to BrokerLink today.

Contact BrokerLink

If you want to learn more about the most common types of injuries that arise from car accidents and what symptoms to look for, reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our licensed professionals would be happy to discuss the most common types of car accidents, the most common causes of car accidents, as well as the most common types of car accident injuries.

In addition, one of our auto insurance experts can help you find coverage that will protect you should you get injured in a collision. Most car insurance plans are designed to safeguard drivers against the reality of accidents, and part of that reality is injury. Thus, we can explain in greater detail how accident benefits coverage, third-party liability coverage, and more can protect you and others should you require medical treatment following a collision.

One of our insurance experts can also offer advice on what types of extra protection to add to your auto insurance plan, such as:

Of course, a BrokerLink broker would also be pleased to give you tips that can help you avoid an accident in the first place. We know all the best safe driving tips, as well as specific tips on how to share the road with motorcycles and how to share the road with bicycles. Contact BrokerLink today to get started!