What Is Considered a Serious Injury in an Accident?

March 2, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
What Is Considered a Serious Injury in an Accident?

Defining Severe Car Accident Injuries

Serious car accidents can often leave motorists and other road users with severe injuries that have significant long-term or permanent health consequences. If your car accident was caused by the negligent actions of another party, you may be able to recover compensation for your financial, physical, and emotional losses.

Dolman Law Group recognizes that the impact of severe auto accident injuries can often last months, years, or even a lifetime. That is why we work diligently to recover maximum compensation for our injured clients. For more information on how you can obtain compensation after an accident, reach out to our team about scheduling a free consultation to explore your legal options.

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What Is Considered a Serious Injury in a Car Accident?

The legal definition of a serious injury in a car accident can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific laws in place. However, in general, a serious injury is one that causes significant physical impairment or substantial pain and suffering.

There are many variations regarding types of collisions and car accidents, so the potential resulting injuries are just as wide-ranging in nature. Some common examples of serious injuries resulting from a car accident include:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe burns
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Loss of limb or amputation
  • Internal injuries or organ damage
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement

According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), well over three million people sustain a serious injury in a car accident each year in car accidents on a national level. The type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car wreck can be evaluated by analyzing several factors. For example:

  • Were the individuals involved in the car accident wearing their seat belts?
  • What kind of impact or collision was involved?
  • Which direction were the vehicle occupant's head and body facing at the time of the collision (i.e., straight ahead or turned in a certain direction)?
  • At what speed did the collision take place (i.e, low-speed or high-speed crash)?
  • Did the vehicle involved in the car accident have airbags, and did they deploy?

If you’re wondering whether your injuries are considered severe, you should ensure that you receive prompt medical care. It may also be wise to hire a car accident lawyer. 

Impact Auto Accident Injuries and Penetrating Car Crash Injuries

Serious Injuries Caused by Car Accidents - Dolman Law Group

There are also two broad, general car accident categories of bodily injury. These categories are impact injuries and penetrating injuries

Impact injuries are often sustained as a result of the vehicle occupant's body being hit or struck through forceful impact by some part of the car's interior, such as the steering wheel. In contrast, penetrating injuries have more of an internal than an external impact. 

Penetrating injuries often cause damage like open wounds, cuts, scrapes, and burns. They are commonly caused by loose or unrestrained objects, such as shattering glass at the time of impact.

Common Examples of Severe Car Accident Injuries

Limb Loss and Amputation After a Car Accident

An amputation refers to the loss of a limb or digit. During a vehicle accident, this can include a leg, arm, hand, finger, or toe. Although amputations are relatively uncommon, auto accidents cause amputations with notable regularity. Undoubtedly, the experience of losing a limb, whether it is an arm, hand, or foot, during (or as a result of) a car accident is terrifying. The extensive physical effects are easily identifiable. However, the less apparent psychological impacts can also be severe. Undergoing any sort of limb loss or amputation presents its own unique difficulties and is traumatic in its own way (i.e., losing a foot but not a finger). Traumatic limb amputation following a car accident has been shown to lead to numerous psychiatric disorders and an inability to support yourself.

Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis Are a Risk in Serious Auto Accidents

Multiple areas of the spine are at risk of injury during a car accident. The vertebrae, ligaments, and discs of the spinal column can all be negatively impacted in many ways. When a car wreck impacts the spinal cord, it can permanently alter a victim's strength and ability to detect sensation.

Spinal cord injuries are graded based on their impact on a victim. Complete spinal cord injuries are the most severe form of spinal cord injuries. Complete spinal cord injuries occur when a victim loses all or most of their ability to control physical movement below the injury site. Spinal cord injuries can lead to:

  • Loss of mobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss or weakening of sensation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Car Accidents Can Lead to Head and Brain Injuries

Much like spinal cord injuries, head and brain injuries can vary significantly in severity. While dangerous and painful, some of these injuries often prove to be relatively harmless long-term. Victims who sustain mild head and brain injuries are extremely fortunate. Many others are not so lucky.

Head and brain injuries can cause lifelong impacts and even death. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, may involve sudden brain damage requiring life-saving surgery or intensive rehabilitation. Victims' emotions and personalities can change after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. Many primary injuries (the ones that occur at the moment of impact) involve specific lobes of the brain. Others affect the entire structure of the brain.

Other Common Minor Injuries After Car Accidents

While an injury's severity can determine how life-altering a victim's accident experience is, it’s important not to ignore injuries that seem less severe. While the following injuries are not likely to result in death or immense harm, they may still have lasting impacts. Some common car accident injuries include:

  • Whiplash: Whiplash is a type of neck injury. It occurs when a person's head moves back and forth too quickly or violently. Many victims of whiplash experience their necks cracking like a whip when they sustain injuries. Some people with whiplash recover within a few weeks. Others may continue to suffer from chronic neck pain for the rest of their lives.
  • Cuts and scrapes: Large lacerations can be life-threatening. However, a large majority of accident victims manage to walk away from crashes with only minor cuts and scrapes. It's critical to ensure you care for these injuries properly and seek medical attention as necessary. Injuries may easily become infected or more severe if left untreated during the healing process.
  • Fractured bones: Bone fractures may prove life-changing, but most are considered minor injuries. Minor fractures can still be exceptionally painful compared to more catastrophic instances of shattering. Broken bones that aren't immediately detectable or don't break the skin are often much simpler and easy to treat. Broken ribs are among the most common examples of car crash injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injury: Much like bone fractures, this type of injury ranges in severity. Many traumatic brain injuries cause long-term health problems or disabilities. Others, like minor concussions, may prove temporarily dangerous but otherwise non-serious for victims.
  • Soft tissue injuries: The term “soft tissue injuries” is intentionally vague. Damage to internal organs can be life-threatening. Tissue damage can afflict virtually any muscle, ligament, or tendon during an accident. Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury ranging from mild to severe. 

Seeking treatment for minor injuries doesn't just benefit your health. It protects you from being accused of exaggerating your injuries. Insurance companies will look for opportunities to diminish the value of your claim wherever possible. Don't give them an excuse by delaying medical treatment.

Driving Behaviors Can Increase the Chance of Serious Injury

Many driving practices lead to car accidents, injuries, and even death. To avoid traffic accidents, first and foremost, one should adhere to basic Florida traffic laws. Abide by posted speed limits, navigate based on information provided by road signs, and avoid aggressive behavior. Many drivers fail to respect these basic rules, posing a tremendous risk to others on the roadways.

Regardless of who's driving questionably or why, here's an overview of some driving behaviors that might lead to serious injury.

  • Distracted driving, such as texting, eating, fiddling with the radio or some other part of the vehicle, or talking on the phone, diverts a driver's attention from the road.
  • Drunk driving or driving while under the influence of drugs.
  • Many drivers speed out of impatience or when they become distracted. Others use speeding as an aggressive driving tactic.
  • Road rage or aggressive driving: Not every instance of aggression indicates road rage, but both pose a real threat to nearby vehicles.

Why Do Serious Injury Accidents Occur?

The average car weighs more than two tons. That's over four thousand pounds of metal and heavy machinery. A truck may weigh 20 times that. When other drivers demonstrate negligence or recklessness on the road, their vehicles can quickly turn into threatening weapons. Drivers must acknowledge and understand the risks they will face on their local roadways.

Car accident victims may suffer a wide range of serious car accident injuries varying in severity. Accidents may involve relatively minor injuries or, possibly, severe, bad car accident injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation. 

The more severe the injuries are, the more likely the injuries are to require lifelong accommodations for victims. A critical injury is one that can result in the loss of senses, mobility, or basic physical abilities. 

Important Car Accident Statistics

To understand how car accidents cause serious injuries, you must be aware of the prevalence of accidents and common causes. It's difficult to understand the gravity of a situation without context. Here's a roundup of some of the most shocking statistics concerning car accidents and injuries:

  • More than 160,000 injury crashes occur throughout Florida every year.
  • More than 10 percent can be classified as incapacitating injury crashes.
  • National lifetime crash injury costs exceed $18 billion.
  • The costs of lifetime work lost due to accident injury total $33 billion.
  • Men are hospitalized more often than women following a crash.
  • Over three million people in the United States are injured yearly in car accidents.

There is no doubt that motor vehicle accidents are a major source of a variety of injuries every year. Whether in Florida or elsewhere, you face the risk of falling victim to traumatic and life-changing injuries when operating a motor vehicle. 

The Most Common Types of Car Accidents and the Serious Injuries They Cause

Limitless scenarios may involve two or more vehicles colliding with one another. Some types of vehicle accidents, however, are known to be exceptionally dangerous. 

Rollover, side-impact, head-on, and rear-end collisions all place vehicle occupants at increased risk of serious injury or death. More serious crashes tend to expose vehicle occupants to the increased impact of the force associated with the nature of the motor vehicle accident.

Rollover Accidents Can Have Devastating Effects

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that almost 85 percent of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle crashes. Many drivers operating larger vehicles experience a rollover after attempting to perform emergency or last-minute maneuvers. However, rollovers are also common in accidents involving multiple vehicles. Rollover accidents cause serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, and amputation.

Side-Impact Collisions Can Cause Significant Injury

The terms broadside or T-bone collisions are used to refer to side-impact collisions. Side-impact collisions are extremely dangerous and can cause extensive damage. During a side-impact collision, one vehicle impacts the side of one or more other vehicles where the vehicle doors are located. By their very nature, these crashes present a unique risk to drivers and passengers.

The majority of side-impact collisions occur at intersections or in parking lots. Vehicles naturally travel perpendicular to one other in these situations, increasing the possibility of side-impact collisions.

Head-On Collisions Can Often Be Deadly

Head-on collisions can also be exceptionally dangerous, especially to drivers and front-seat passengers. When two vehicles' front ends collide, it presents an immediate risk of fatality. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported a 58 percent fatality rate for vehicle occupants involved in crashes involving frontal impact.

Rear-End Collisions Are a Common Type of Auto Accident

Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents that regularly occur on roadways. They can occur in a variety of situations where vehicles are moving in proximity to one another, including at stop signs, traffic intersections, and while in heavy traffic. 

Rear-end collisions range in terms of severity from minor fender benders to severe and fatal car crashes causing serious injuries and even death. Whiplash is perhaps one of the most frequently sustained injuries in rear-end collisions, along with other types of neck and back injuries, head injuries, and soft tissue injuries.

Commercial Vehicles and Trucks Cause Some of the Worst Car Crash Injuries

Commercial vehicles and trucks pose significantly higher risks on the road due to their exceptionally large size and weight. This is particularly applicable when a collision occurs between a large commercial vehicle and a small personal car.

These types of serious injury truck accidents tend to result in damage and injuries, which can only be described as disastrous and potentially even fatal. The serious injuries in these types of crashes can include anything ranging from traumatic head injuries, broken or crushed bone injuries, chest injuries, and severe burns. In some instances, injuries are as drastic as hazardous chemical exposure, depending upon what type of cargo that particular commercial vehicle is carrying.

Why Should I Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent Me in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Retaining a licensed and knowledgeable car accident attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your auto accident claim. For example, a skilled personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group can:

  • Simplify the legal process
  • Make it easier to seek and receive medical treatment and chiropractic care
  • Increase your likelihood of success in court
  • Allow you to obtain greater compensation for emotional and physical damages
  • Empower you to stand up for your rights

This results-driven approach has helped us produce a track record of successful settlements. These include a 5 million dollar settlement for a car accident client with burn injuries and a 775 thousand dollar settlement for a father and son who were seriously injured in a rideshare car accident.

Dolman Law Group is committed to securing our injured clients' maximum compensation. Additionally, we prioritize treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve throughout the claims process. For more information on the treatment you can expect from Dolman Law Group, we encourage you to review the testimonials from former clients.

Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Auto Accident Lawsuit

Many victims find themselves unsure of which steps to take after experiencing a serious car accident. This is especially true for individuals who have sustained more serious injuries. Undoubtedly, car accident victims will experience immense physical and emotional stress. The last thing on a victim's mind is contacting a car wreck attorney.

The car accident attorneys of Dolman Law Group can help take some of the stress off your shoulders so that you can focus on your recovery. We are empathetic and trustworthy legal professionals who will make ourselves available to protect you and your rights. We aren't afraid of standing up to powerful insurance companies to recover the damages you deserve, even if we have to take your auto accident claim to trial.

Parties who may have it in their best interest to take advantage of you include insurance companies or other organizations that may be responsible for damages. The sooner you have an auto accident lawyer on your side, the better prepared you'll be to fight for your rights. Call Dolman Law Group today at (866) 896-0899, or contact us through our website at any time.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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