What are the Common Injuries Seen From a Side Impact Accident?

Accident attorney

Whiplash, spinal injuries, blunt-force trauma, broken bones, and various other injuries are common in side impact accidents. According to a report published by StatPearls, trauma is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in victims under 35. The severity of the injury depends on the circumstances of the accident and the victim's pre-existing health conditions.

In 2020, angled collisions (including broadside and T-bone accidents) resulted in 6,432 fatal accidents, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute (III). Additionally, 950 deadly accidents were caused by sideswipe collisions. Depending on the vehicle model and the impact intensity, passengers may have limited protection from safety devices during a side-impact accident. The sudden and forceful sideways movement of the body can lead to soft-tissue and skeletal injuries.

Common Injuries From Side-Impact Car Accidents

Side-impact car accidents can result in injuries similar to those in other types of accidents. However, the injuries can be more severe due to the side-to-side jostling that occurs during these impacts.

When you ride in a vehicle, your body moves at the same speed as the car. During a collision, the car's forward motion abruptly stops, but your body continues to move. This motion can cause you to collide with the dashboard or experience bruising from the seat belt. In a side impact, your forward movement combines with a sudden sideways jolt, increasing the potential for injury.

While we have outlined some common injuries below, it is important to note that not all possible injuries can be mentioned.


Whiplash is a commonly occurring injury in rear-end collisions, but it can also happen in side-impact accidents. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly thrust backward, forward, or in a combination of these directions. This rapid motion causes the neck to stretch, exerting pressure on the spinal column.

Symptoms of whiplash may include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Hand or arm pain or numbness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty with concentration or memory
  • Irritability, fatigue, and insomnia

Diagnosing whiplash can be challenging, as it is classified as a soft-tissue injury. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other diagnostic scans can help detect it, but it is typically not visible on x-rays.

Head Trauma And Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head collides with a solid object, or as a secondary effect of whiplash when the brain strikes the inside of the skull during a collision. It's important to note that the symptoms of a TBI may not be immediately apparent, as they can manifest days, weeks, or even months after an accident.

Signs to watch for include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Disorientation
  • Persistent headaches
  • Generalized numbness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Coma

While some cases of TBI resolve relatively quickly, others can have long-term effects.

Broken Bones, Lacerations, Bumps, And Bruises

Side-impact collisions frequently result in cuts, bumps, bruises, and fractures. It is crucial to seek medical assistance following an accident, as even a seemingly minor cut can lead to complications if infected. Additionally, there may be concealed internal injuries that are not immediately apparent. Your well-being should never be taken lightly after an accident.

Chest And Abdominal Injuries

According to a 2000 report in the Journal of Passenger Cars: Mechanical Systems, almost half of all side-impact motor vehicle collisions resulting in injuries caused trauma to the chest and abdomen. These types of crashes often affect the thoracic aorta, with aortic injuries occurring in 1 out of 5 chest and abdominal injuries. Women and older adults are most commonly affected by these injuries.

In 2008, the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) discovered that rib fractures, which are often considered minor injuries for younger victims in car accidents, pose a significant risk of complications and mortality for adults aged 60 and older.

Side-impact accidents can lead to internal damage in the lungs, ribs, heart, and other organs such as the liver, kidney, and bladder. Many of these injuries may not have visible symptoms and can worsen over time.

Pelvic And Lower Extremity Injuries

Car accident victims often sustain injuries to the pelvis and lower limbs. Notably, side-impact collisions carry a twofold increase in the risk of mortality.

According to a 2016 study in Medical Science Monitor, drivers were more prone to upper-leg fractures, while passengers commonly suffered from broken pelvises. The study also revealed that male victims faced a higher risk of pelvic fractures, resulting in prolonged recovery periods and potential disabilities.

Neck, Back, And Spinal Injuries

The auto and insurance industries frequently conduct tests using crash-simulation technology to assess the impact of different vehicle collisions. Side-impact crash testing has revealed the following types of injuries:

  • Severe spinal fractures
  • Whiplash
  • Sprains, strains, and fractures in the neck and back
  • Partial or complete paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries among younger individuals in the United States. These injuries can result in lifelong pain, suffering, and reduced functionality, leading to significant hardship and disability.

During a side-impact crash, the neck absorbs a substantial amount of force. As a result, the head and body continue to move forward while being simultaneously thrust sideways. This motion stretches the muscles and ligaments, causing damage to the soft tissues and sometimes resulting in fractures in the supporting bones of the neck.

Types Of Side-Impact Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately one out of every five accidents involve side impacts. While many people associate side-impact accidents with T-bone crashes, where one vehicle collides at a 90-degree angle with another car, the reality is that side-impact accidents can occur in various ways. Any collision where two or more vehicles come together at an angle has the potential to result in side-impact-related injuries.

Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents occur when two vehicles are traveling in the same direction and one drifts out of its lane, colliding with the second vehicle. This can also happen when a single vehicle makes contact with a stationary object, such as a pole or guardrail.

It's important to note that a driver's panic and over-correction can often exacerbate the damage caused by a sideswipe accident, leading to further impacts and consequences.

According to a report from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there are over 242,000 sideswipe accidents on American highways each year. These collisions result in approximately 27,000 injuries and more than 2,500 fatalities. Sideswipe accidents can have various causes, including failure to check blind spots before changing lanes, distracted driving, eating or drinking while driving, fatigue leading to drifting into adjacent lanes, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failure to signal lane changes, swerving to avoid road debris, simultaneous lane changes, road rage or reckless practices such as speeding, and weather-related incidents like hydroplaning.

The severity of sideswipe accidents can vary, depending on multiple factors. Regardless of the extent of the damages, it is crucial to stop, assess the situation, and follow the appropriate procedures.

T-Bone Accidents

T-bone accidents, also known as broadside accidents, frequently occur at intersections when a vehicle turns left across oncoming traffic or a driver runs a red light as opposing traffic starts moving on their green light.

In most T-bone collisions, the fault lies in the failure to yield. Depending on the right-of-way, the driver making the turn, the oncoming traveler, or the driver running the red light could be at fault. Other causes of T-bone accidents include distracted driving (such as texting or using a GPS), tired or inattentive driving, eating or drinking, adjusting the stereo, defective equipment, as well as speeding or reckless driving.

The injuries resulting from T-bone accidents are often more severe than those from rear-end collisions. The side-to-side force combined with the sudden impact can lead to internal injuries.

Secondary Damage And Injuries From Side-Impact Accidents

In side-impact accidents, the most significant injuries often stem not from the initial vehicle contact, but from subsequent rebounds and secondary impacts. When drivers over-correct and veer into other vehicles or stationary objects, separate crashes can occur. The trajectory resulting from a side-impact collision may push a car into oncoming traffic lanes or through intersections. It is crucial to recognize that the potential dangers of side-impact collisions extend beyond the initial impact itself.

How A Side-Impact Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you have sustained injuries from a side-impact accident, reaching out to Strong Law could prove beneficial. Our team of car accident attorneys offers complimentary consultations, providing you with an opportunity to discuss your concerns and receive genuine answers. A skilled side-impact car accident lawyer can assist you in various ways, including:

  • Advocating for reimbursement of medical expenses
  • Pursuing compensation for lost wages
  • Ensuring the repair or replacement of your vehicle
  • Seeking additional compensation for pain and suffering

Don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you navigate the legal process and achieve the justice you deserve.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation Today

Our team of experienced car accident lawyers is ready to thoroughly investigate your accident, identify the responsible party, and vigorously advocate for the compensation you rightfully deserve. We offer a risk-free assessment of your accident and potential claim. Don't hesitate to reach out to Strong Law for expert legal assistance.