There are common injury patterns in car accidents, according to the type of accident:
- In a frontal crash, the occupant, especially if not wearing a seatbelt, will continue to move forward when the vehicle comes to a stop. It is common for the initial point of impact to be the hips and legs, which can cause ankle fracture and dislocation; knee and hip injuries and femoral fractures. The head and cervical spine may strike the windshield and steering column.
- In a side impact crash, the crash victim accelerates away from the side that is hit. This can cause compressive pelvic damage, pulmonary contusion, solid organ injury and rupture of the diaphragm.
- Rear crashes often cause severe cervical spine injury if the head restraints do not fit the person properly.
- Deceleration and acceleration injuries that are common in many types of accidents are aorta tears, the junction of the cervical and thoracic spine, and even between the grey and white matter in the brain.
- In pedestrian accidents, severe lower leg injuries are common due to impact with the bumper of the vehicle. Head and torso injuries also occur when the pedestrian hits the windshield. Ground impact can cause head, spinal and other injuries.
- Motorcyclists and bikers experience serious head injuries when the head hits another vehicle or the ground, although helmets reduce fatal head injuries by 1/3 and the risk of serious facial injury by 2/3. Lower extremity fractures also are common.