Side Impact Injuries

Motorists involved in automobile side-impact crashes are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than people involved in head-on or other types of collisions, according to a University of Rochester study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Lead author Jeffrey Bazarian, M.D., MPH, also found that brain injuries from side-impact crashes are usually more severe. Other studies have also noted that female occupants tend to suffer more severe head and neck injuries than males.

The force dynamics of side impact crashes differ from a head-on and rear-end type crashes. When a vehicle is impacted from the side the car moves in conflicting directions, many times the car body actually flexes in opposite directions. Catastrophic injuries occur when body muscle experiences forces pushing it in an opposite direction muscles naturally operate in. Since the body cannot buckle in the same motion as the car, muscles stretch and then fail to immediately return to their natural position. This causes injuries that will last a lifetime.

Side Impact Injuries

Side-Airbags, shoulder harnesses and seat belts, can help to lessen serious and fatal injuries.
Some of the injuries that can be sustained in a side impact collision are as follows:
  • Injuries to the head and neck
  • Brain injuries
  • Extremity (arms & legs) fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Abrasions (scrapes)
  • Bruises

Injury symptoms don’t usually appear immediately. Sometimes they may take up to 72 hours to
manifest themselves. Some of the common symptoms for the above injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste, smell, or hearing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion to the area/stiffness/tightness
  • Visualized bruising

These are not all of the types of injuries reported from side impact collisions. If you have been
involved in one of these it is important that you consult a medical professional for an examination.


Side Impact Injury Findings
 Other key findings from an NHTSA analysis:

  • Traumatic brain injury is the cause of death in 51 percent to 74 percent of single-vehicle side collisions, and 41 percent to 64 percent of multiple vehicle side-impact crashes.
  • Better head protection could reduce all crash-related brain injuries by up to 61 percent, and fatal or critical brain injuries by up to 23.5 percent. In raw numbers, that would translate into 2,230 fewer deaths or critical injuries each year.
  • Seatbelt use, not frontal air bags, was associated with a reduced risk of brain injury after a crash.
  • Doctors, nurses and emergency personnel who treat accident victims should learn the direction of the crash and consider a side impact to be a risk factor for serious brain injury, even if the patient shows no initial symptoms.

Side Impact Legal Expert
Because of the complexity of the injuries involved in side-impact accidents, any one injured in this type of crash, should consult a legal expert familiar with these injuries. A legal expert in side-crash injuries can help an injured person explore all their legal and medical options. Typically these cases will require the assistance of scientific experts to reconstruct the accident and to document the source of the injuries. A personal injury expert who specializes in side-crash injuries can help protect a victim’s rights to collect compensation for medical costs, lost wages, disability and more.