Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death across the entire nation, many of which result from car accidents. California consistently ranks as one of the worst states for fatal car accident-related injuries. While the state’s large population, nearly 200,000 miles of public roadways, and notorious traffic congestion certainly play a part, many accidents result from driver negligence. Distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and other types of reckless driving are among the most common causes of car accidents.
Any car accident has the potential for serious injury, but high impact crashes are particularly deadly. The faster a car is traveling when it collides with another car or object, the greater the force of the impact, the less protection a vehicle offers, and the higher the likelihood of catastrophic injuries. Read on to learn more about what happens during a high impact car accident and the injuries victims typically sustain in such collisions.
What Is a High Impact Car Accident?
A high impact (or high speed) car accident refers to a collision that involves at least one vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour or over. When two vehicles collide while speeding or a stopped vehicle is struck by a moving vehicle traveling at high speed, the force of the impact travels from the vehicles through the bodies of the occupants. The human body can only absorb so much force, especially if someone is not wearing a seatbelt, and the chances of injury or death directly correlate with speed.
Why Are High Impact Car Accidents So Dangerous?
Your body and your vehicle both possess kinetic energy by moving. The kinetic energy of the vehicle is released through braking, but the kinetic energy of your body and the internal components of your body will continue moving forward even after the vehicle stops. At slow speeds, your body can absorb and dissipate the impact across your skin, muscles, and skeletal structure. In a high-speed crash, your body simply cannot handle the force of the impact, and higher impact force equals greater injury.
The underlying physics of a car accident involves three distinct and successive impacts:
- Impact One – Exterior of VehicleThe first impact in a car accident is the exterior of a vehicle making an impact on any type of moving or stationary object, from other vehicles to trees, utility poles, or traffic barriers. The force exerted on the vehicle depends on the weight of the involved vehicles and objects, the speed of travel, and the abruptness of the stop. In contrast with the proportional impact of weight on force, speed exponentially increases the severity of the force and is, therefore, the most significant factor causing the greatest potential damage. Newer vehicles offer greater protection than older ones because they feature more advanced structural design and better safety equipment, as well as electronic stability control systems that help reduce spin-outs.
- Impact Two – Exterior of BodyAfter the impact on the vehicle, the second impact refers to the occupant’s body striking the interior of the vehicle, the seat belt, and/or loose objects thrown around in the crash. Striking your skull off the windshield or having a limb crushed when part of the car crumples are explicit examples of this impact, but many people do not realize that keeping loose objects in the car can also cause additional injury. Any other unsecured objects such as toolboxes, luggage, coolers, books, bags of groceries, and stainless-steel travel mugs turn into dangerous projectiles when you experience a collision or make a sudden stop. These projectiles can cause blunt force trauma or penetrating trauma, particularly in a rollover accident.
- Impact Three – Interior of BodyThe third impact in a car accident involves the damage that occurs inside of the occupant’s body, typically to the internal organs, soft tissue, and blood vessels. The human body does not accelerate and decelerate as one solid unit. Instead, the internal components of your body will continue their forward trajectory toward the point of external impact even if your body is stopped by seat belt, airbags, or objects. When organs experience this tremendous impact, they can sustain severe damage, causing internal bleeding or forcing them to shut down entirely.Victims may suffer from ruptures, tears, bruises, or other injuries to the kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs, or bowels, all of which require immediate medical attention or can rapidly become fatal. Damage to key blood vessels such as the abdominal aorta nearly always results in death within minutes. The most common bones that break during high-impact collisions include ribs, skull, clavicles, arms, hips, and legs. Fractured bones are extremely painful and can result in permanent disability in severe cases. They can also cause further damage by puncturing organs or blood vessels.
Damage to the head, neck, and back is common in these accidents, ranging from minor to permanently debilitating injuries. Spinal cord injuries can take the form of whiplash, herniated or bulging discs in the spine, broken vertebrae, nerve damage, or paralysis. If a victim’s head slams against the inside of the vehicle, their brain abruptly strikes the skull surrounding it, potentially causing brain hemorrhage, swelling, and other injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are incredibly deadly because symptoms do not always present right away but can take hours, days, weeks, or even months before the full extent and severity of the trauma is recognized.
Don’t Delay – Secure Legal Representation Now
If you are involved in a high-impact collision or any other type of car accident, seek medical treatment immediately, even if your injuries seem minor, then contact a personal injury attorney right away. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may face expensive medical bills from ongoing complications, lost income while you heal, permanent inability to work, and/or pain and suffering that can last for years. Recovery in these accidents is possible, but it requires prompt action. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is two years, meaning the longer you wait, the lower your chances for maximum recovery.
At Peach & Weathers, we have over six decades of combined experience representing California clients in car accident cases. Our team can investigate the circumstances of your accident to prove the other driver’s negligence, hold them accountable for your injuries, and deliver the compensation you need to move forward. Contact us today to get started on your case.