What are the Most Common Injuries People Sustain in a Car Accident?

Car accidents happen more than we want them too. Unfortunately, unless you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, car accidents probably include an injury as well. But what are the most common car accident injuries? Many personal injury websites you see will have a list, but no cold, hard numbers. The point of this blog is to fix that. We have jumped into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s database  (NHSTA) and crunched some numbers for you. Here’s what we found:

Percentage of Injuries in Car Accidents

First off, all of the numbers below come from 2004 to 2015. The NHSTA was given authorization by Congress to collect this car accident information to help with traffic safety.


Total Number of Crashes Reported

The website above does not specifically state the margin of error for the number of car crashes reported, but from what the government has compiled 51,979 car crashes occurred from 2004 until 2015.

So what were some of the common car accident injuries? Let’s go from highest to lowest (designations based on NHTSA).

Upper Limb Injuries

Of the most common car accident injuries reported, upper limb injuries take the top prize with 11,865 reported between 2004 and 2015. This amounts to an upper limb injury in 22% of all car accidents. It makes sense that this is one of the most common car accident injuries as we steer with our hands. Because of that fact, there Is probably not a good way to avoid these common car accident injuries.

Lower Limb Injuries

Coming in at second place for the most common car accident injuries are lower limbs (like your legs). These can be distinguished from ankle injuries which we will get to later. In the reported time period, 11,450 lower limb injuries occurred making them also present in about 22% of car accidents. Again, this makes sense as the gas and brake pedals are managed by your feet.


Number three on the most common car accident injuries list is facial injuries at 10,399. This is roughly 20% (1 in 5) of all car accidents. This can be easily attributed to the force as you hit your brakes, or are hit yourself. If you’re lucky, you hit the airbag and mitigate some of the damage.


The next injury on the list common car accident injuries is one that many people do not think about until they are in a car accident, your chest. So many of the airbag videos that we’ve seen in driver’s education classes only show the crash dummies head hitting the air bag, but there are many times in which the quick deployment impacts your chest as well. Specifically, 10,173 chest injuries were reported in the years we are looking at. That is a 19.5% occurrence rate making it one of the most common car accident injuries.

Neck – Cervical Spine Injuries

These kinds of injuries are most like what we refer to when we mention “whiplash.” These common car accident injuries are also present in around 19.5% of all accidents. The correlation between some of the most common car accident injuries that we have seen thus far make sense. If your face is injured 20% of the time, it would make sense that your neck is injured around that same frequency.

Head & Skull

If your face and neck are particularly prone to injury in car accidents, it would make sense that head and skull injuries are among the most common car accident injuries. While face injuries usually include lacerations or bruising, a head or skull injury usually entails deeper damage, such as a concussion. While these injuries occur less than others, they are still present in 18% of car accidents and can, at times, be some of the hardest injuries to assess.


Some of you may be surprised that back injuries are, relatively, this low on the list as compared to other injuries. We were too. While back injuries are in the top ten when it comes to common car accident injuries, they are present in only about 12% of all accidents surveyed in this report. This may be attributable to increased seatbelt usage.


Finally, in terms of the larger numbers, abdomen injuries are the last of the most common car accident injuries. The sudden force forward as your car stops coupled with the chest strap may save your back, but may also put the squeeze on you else. Abdomen injuries occur in about 11% of all car accidents.

A few things to note. As you may have noticed, if you add every number up it is well over 100%. It’s as simple as car accidents having multiple injuries. Secondly, there were injuries that we did not mention because they occur in less than 3% of all accidents. They are as follows: ankle injuries, upper arm injuries, elbow injuries, forearm injuries, knee injuries, lower leg injuries, pelvic/hip injuries, shoulder injuries, thigh injuries, and wrist injuries.  Now, we don’t know exactly how everything was reported, so it is very well possible that some of these overlap with the injuries mentioned above.

Average Car Accident Settlement for These Injuries

Unfortunately, a majority of settlements come with confidentiality agreements. We tried digging around the internet to see if we could find some numbers we could bring to you, but they just couldn’t be found. If you call our office, we can give you a better answer of the value of your case based on our past experiences. All calls are free and require no obligation.


1 thought on “What are the Most Common Injuries People Sustain in a Car Accident?

  1. Back Injuries Caused By Car Accidents

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