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Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries in California


car accident

Experiencing a car accident can be a traumatic experience. Everything you know can change in a split second, making life never the same as it was before, especially when serious injuries are sustained. Even though many safety standards are passed for motor vehicles, car accidents are still very common. In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 13 minutes.

California isn’t immune to car crashes across its vast landscape. According to 2022 statistics, 165,978 individuals in California suffered an injury after a car crash while, sadly, thousands of car accidents occurring in the state resulted in more than 4,000 deaths that same year.

If you or a loved one experiences injury after suffering a car accident, the compassionate attorneys at Ellis Helm APLC are here for you. Call us today at 951-875-6865 to receive a free case evaluation and start your personal injury claim.

Top Causes of California Car Accidents

California is a massive state with 396,540 lane miles of roadways. Collisions range from minor to serious and can come in the form of read-end crashes, T-bone collisions, head-on crashes, and sideswipes, to name the most common types of accidents. These are most often due to careless, reckless, or negligent behaviors. Top causes of California car accidents include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding over the limit, especially at excessive speeds
  • Distracted driving, including visual, manual, and cognitive
  • Aggressive driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Poor road conditions, including bad weather
  • Badly maintained or unmaintained roadways
  • Vehicle defects and malfunctions

It is important to understand that the cause of an accident matters, as you will need to identify the correct negligent party. In some cases, there may be more than one at-fault party in a motor vehicle collision. Your California car accident attorney can examine your case, gather evidence, and investigate the cause to help them identify the responsible parties for your injury.

Most Common Types of Injuries People Suffer from California Car Accidents

Car accident injuries can range from minor to serious. Even injuries that appear to be minor or even non-existent may turn out to be the most serious kind. Common types of injuries accident victims often suffer after experiencing a car accident include the following.


Whiplash is a type of car accident injury that is very common in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. This injury is sustained when a person’s neck snaps backward or forward on impact, often likened to the “cracking of a whip.” The head is heavy, and this weight causes strain on the muscles of the neck. Sometimes, whiplash victims make a quick recovery, but other times, the healing process can take months or more.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Car accident victims who sustain a TBI often find their injury significantly impacts their lives. A TBI occurs when the head experiences a blow, jolt, shaking, or a pierced object in the skull. This can mean slamming into a dashboard, hitting a windshield, or bumping into a steering wheel on impact.

There are three levels of TBI: mild (including concussions), moderate, and severe. Any level of TBI can lead to permanent changes in the brain which can impact a person’s physical abilities, cognitive abilities, or behaviors.

Since no two TBIs are the same, it is difficult to compare recovery rates. Sometimes, symptoms of TBI don’t appear for weeks or months after a crash. Seeking treatment shortly after an accident is essential because the sooner a TBI is diagnosed, the better the chances of recovery.

Neck and Back Injuries

There are numerous types of neck and back injuries that can occur as a direct result of a car accident. Common injuries include:

  • Disc injuries to the neck and/or back
  • Facet joint injuries
  • Cervical spine injuries
  • Lumbar sprains
  • Disc herniation
  • Strains and sprains
  • Fractured vertebrae

These are just a handful of the types of neck and back injuries you could potentially sustain in a car accident. If you have any discomfort or pain, your doctor will most likely run diagnostic tests such as MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans.

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)

A spinal cord injury is serious as it can impact a victim’s ability to control their own body. The function of the spinal cord is to deliver signals between the body and the brain. When a spinal cord is injured, the bundle of nerves it contains is impacted, disrupting the body’s ability to communicate. SCIs can be temporary or permanent and are classified in two ways: complete and incomplete. They may not appear right away, but seeing a doctor after an accident can help rule this serious injury out.

Broken Bones

Broken bones are common injuries, especially to the legs, arms, neck, wrists, and ribs. Sometimes, they are noticeable right away, while other times, broken and fractured bones are not as obvious after a crash, but the pain will persist, and the symptoms show themselves.

Internal Injuries

The unseen injuries are some of the most severe. Internal injuries include collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, organ damage, and fractured or broken ribs. Some of these may be life-threatening and, if not diagnosed, could cause permanent disability or loss of life. Many accident victims who feel OK after a crash may have internal injuries that will manifest in the upcoming days. This is an important reason why everyone in a crash should be checked out by a healthcare professional.

Cuts, Burns, and Lacerations

Accident victims commonly suffer cuts and lacerations. Many are minor and will heal with treatment and time. Serious injuries may require skin grafts or cause permanent scarring and disfigurement. Other common motor vehicle accident injuries include soft tissue injuries (sprains and strains), facial injuries, chest injuries (thoracic trauma), dislocated joints, PTSD, or loss of limbs. Always see a medical professional after experiencing a car accident to check for any signs of injury.

What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

Usually, car accidents happen so fast that the aftermath can be confusing for those involved in the crash. For instance, you or a loved one may be injured, or the other driver may take off from the scene of the crash. It is important to take the following steps to ensure your safety and to preserve any evidence.

  • Move to safety. If you are able, get yourself and any passengers off the road to a safe location, such as a sidewalk or grassy area, especially if one of the cars is smoking or otherwise looks vulnerable to cause additional injury.
  • Call for help. After you remove yourself and others to safety, call the police to come take a report. If serious injuries are apparent, call 911 right away.
  • Obtain medical treatment. See a medical provider right away for obvious injuries, but even if you feel OK, still obtain treatment from your healthcare provider. This ensures you don’t have any hidden injuries, some of which might be serious.
  • Document the crash. Take photos and videos of the cars, road conditions, tire marks, signage, and other relevant items. Collect the contact information for the other driver(s) and that of any eyewitnesses. Note down the date and time of the accident.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company. Ideally, try to report your accident within 24 hours if you are able to do so. If not, contact them as soon as possible.
  • Report the accident to the California DMV. California requires individuals to fill out the SR-1 form within 10 days of the accident if there was any bodily injury, death, or property damage over $1,000.

Lastly, you want to contact an experienced California car accident attorney before speaking to any insurance company. Most aren’t going to consider what’s in your best interests – they will seek to offer low levels of compensation. Furthermore, unfortunately, many may try to “trick” you into saying something that can hurt your claim down the road so they can prioritize making lower payments.

When you work with an attorney at Ellis Helm, APC, you are our priority. We will handle all aspects of your case and will serve as the go-between with the insurance company, preserving the integrity of your case and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.

Need Compassionate Legal Counsel? Call Ellis Helm APLC Today

California is one of the top states seeing the most car accidents, second only to Texas. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Californians are injured in motor vehicle collisions. If you or a family is suffering physical or emotional injury after a car accident, we welcome you to speak with the compassionate personal injury attorneys at Ellis Helm APLC. We take pride in the care we provide our clients.

Our understanding attorneys understand the pain and difficulties you may be experiencing after suffering the trauma of a car accident. Contact us today at 951-875-6865 or, if you prefer, fill out our contact form. A member of our legal team will get back to you to schedule a free initial consultation.