Most Common Fatal Injuries in Car Accidents

Trusted Content

Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. February 10, 2021

While automobile manufacturers and policymakers worldwide take steps to reduce fatal car crashes and road traffic accidents, the numbers are still staggering. Consistently, car accidents remain a leading cause of death in the United States and elsewhere. For certain age groups, car accidents are the leading cause of death.

Each year more than 38,000 people die in car accidents on US roads. Vehicle accident fatalities rose in 2020. This is surprising given that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced the number of cars on the road at any given time. Experts attribute 2020’s rise in car crash fatalities to increased speeding rates that came alongside fewer cars being on the road. 

Even if you take extra precautions as a driver or passenger, safety is unfortunately not a guarantee. Despite any steps that you may take, road traffic safety depends on other motorists’ actions, and you cannot control the actions of other road users.

Knowing this, you may find yourself wondering, what are the most common fatal injuries in car accidents? While road safety is never a guarantee, if you know the most common fatal injuries in car accidents, you can take proactive steps to avoid them.

The Most Common Fatal Injuries in Car Accidents

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other types of head or brain injuries are some of the most common fatal injuries in car accidents each year. Although protected by our skulls, our brains are also one of the organs most susceptible to injury.

While not all TBI is fatal, there are more than 50,000 cases of TBI each year. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that automobile accidents cause roughly 20% of all TBI cases.

Other internal injuries are the other leading cause of fatalities in car accidents. Internal injuries encompass a broad range of specific injuries, including TBI. Other internal injuries that can be fatal include things like:

  • Organ injury,
  • Aorta aneurysm,
  • Internal bleeding,
  • Ruptured spleens, and
  • Collapsed lungs.

Many of these internal injuries are treatable. However, sometimes internal injuries go unnoticed and untreated. When this occurs, the likelihood of death increases significantly.

Leading Driver Death Causes

There are many different causes of car accidents. In turn, there are many different causes of fatal accidents and some are more prevalent than others.

A US Department of Transportation (DOT) study of over 51,000 driver fatalities in 2018 revealed the following top 10 accident causes and their respective rates (from highest to lowest):

  • Driving too fast for conditions, over speed limits, or racing (16.7%);
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication (10.1%);
  • Failure to stay in the proper lane (7.2%);
  • Failure to yield right of way (7.0%);
  • Driving carelessly (5.4%);
  • Distracted driving (5.2%);
  • Failure to obey traffic control devices (3.9%);
  • Reckless, erratic, or negligent driving (3.8%);
  • Overcorrecting or oversteering (3.1%); and
  • Driving with low visibility (rain, fog, snow, lights) (3.0%).

From this data, you can see that while some of the fatal accident causes exceed others, no one category comes close to encompassing a majority.

Taken as a whole, we can identify some dangerous driving behaviors that one should always try to avoid to protect their life. Conversely, there are other safe driving practices that one can take to protect themselves and others on the road.

The Best Way to Protect Yourself from Car Accident Fatalities

Wearing a seat belt while in a car as a driver or passenger is by far the most important step you can take to protect yourself from dying in an automobile accident. Why is this? Because wearing your seat belt helps protect your head. Without a seat belt, the impact of a car accident can throw you against the interior of the car, where you can strike your head.

In other situations, without a seat belt, you may be thrown from the vehicle where you are very likely to hit your head. Consider these statistics from the CDC on seatbelt use: 

  • More than half of all car accident fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident;
  • A seat belt can reduce the risk of death or serious injury in car accidents by 45-50%;
  • People not wearing a seatbelt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash compared to those wearing seatbelts; and
  • Seatbelts saved nearly 13,000 lives in one year alone (2009).

Wearing a seatbelt is far and away one of the easiest ways to prevent car accident fatalities. Consequently, it’s one of the most important safe driving and riding habits you can take every time you get in a car.

If You Are in a Car Accident

If you are injured in a car accident, contact us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today for a free consultation regarding your injuries. We help clients through just about any type of personal injury, but car accidents are one of our firm’s primary focus areas.

We have helped more than 20,000 clients throughout all of Florida over the past 30 years get the compensation they deserve after suffering from personal injuries. If you suffer a personal injury after a car accident, don’t wait. Contact us today and let us help you!

If a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident

If your loved one dies in a car accident, the person who caused the accident owes you compensation. We know how hard it is to have a loved one’s life cut short and are here to help you go through the grieving process without worrying about legal details.

Our goal is to guide you through the legalities so that you don’t have to worry about the ins and outs of filing a wrongful death claim.

Abrahamson & Uiterwyk’s wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, experienced, and here to help you with your unique needs. We want to make the process as pain-free for you as possible, so contact us today for a free consultation, and we’ll take care of the rest.

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