What Are the Most Common Child Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?

The U.S. Department of Transportation contains an agency called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), whose function is to research automotive safety issues in the interest of reducing accidents.  In this article, our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers will focus on NHTSA research into common childhood injuries resulting from crashes and collisions.  If your son or daughter was hurt in a car accident in the Oklahoma City area, our attorneys may be able to recover compensation for your family.

Brain Injuries Rank #1 Most Common in Children Under 8 Years Old

While anyone can be seriously injured in a car accident, children are exceptionally vulnerable because their muscles, bones, and ligaments are still growing.  In particular, children are highly susceptible to head and brain injuries, especially the following six types:

oklahoma city personal injury attorney

  • Cerebrum Injuries – The cerebrum refers to the two large, wrinkled halves of the brain (as opposed to the smaller cerebellum or “hindbrain” located beneath and behind the cerebrum). Cerebral lacerations and contusions – in other words, cuts and bruising to the brain – were more common across all age groups than any other type of injury.  A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can interfere with virtually every cognitive function, including memory, communication, emotion, perception, learning, and problem-solving.
  • Skull Base Fracture – A fracture at the base of the skull, which is called a basal or basilar skull fracture, can lead to deafness, impaired vision, and involuntary eye motions.
  • Skull Vault Fractures – Skull vault fractures are cracks in the cranial vault, or the space in the skull in which the brain rests.
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhaging – Describes bleeding (hemorrhaging) in the subarachnoid cavity, or the space between the brain and the tissue which covers the brain.
  • Subdural Hematoma – Subdural hematoma occurs when blood pools between the brain and its outermost covering (called dura mater).
  • Unconsciousness and Concussions – Concussions are more serious than most people realize. In fact, a concussion is actually a form of mild traumatic brain injury, though unfortunately, the term “mild” can paint a misleading picture.  Up to 15% of mild TBI victims will experience persistent symptoms throughout their lives.  Concussions were most common in children less than 12 months old than in children aged one or older.

Chest (Thoracic) and Abdominal Injuries in Child Passengers

Injuries to the chest and abdomen can result in life-threatening complications like a collapsed lung, aortic rupture, or catastrophic damage to other organs and blood vessels.  NHTSA data identified three types of thoracic injuries and four types of abdominal injuries:

Common Chest Injuries

  • Lung Injuries – There are many ways a car accident can injure one or both lungs, such as inhalation of toxic fumes or blunt force trauma to the chest region. Contusions and lacerations to the lungs are both highly common in child accident victims.
  • Rib Fractures – Broken ribs were more common in children under one year old than in children aged one to seven. Rib fractures can cause serious complications if a bone shard bends inward and punctures a lung or the aorta.  Broken rib shards can also cut into the kidneys, spleen, or liver.
  • Thoracic Cavity Injuries – The thoracic cavity is the chest cavity, or the space containing the rib cage and lungs.

Common Abdominal Injuries

  • Kidney Injury – The kidneys filter waste from the bloodstream. If a kidney fails, the injury victim will need a transplant or dialysis.
  • Liver Injury – The liver helps the body metabolize medication, detoxify chemicals, and regulate blood clotting. A liver injury can have serious complications like bile leaks and hemorrhaging.
  • Small/Large Bowel Injury – A perforated bowel or gastrointestinal perforation (GP), which is a puncture of the small intestine or large intestine, is a medical emergency which often requires surgery to repair. If a portion of the intestine needs to be removed, the injured child may need a colostomy or ileostomy.
  • Spleen Injury – In addition to removing damaged red blood cells (which carry oxygen), storing white blood cells (which produce bacteria- and virus-fighting antibodies), and storing platelets (which help stop bleeding), the spleen also plays a crucial role in fighting off the bacteria responsible for serious medical conditions like meningitis and pneumonia. When the spleen is bruised, the victim might experience pain, nausea, and increased heart rate.  If the spleen ruptures, it may need to be surgically removed or repaired, or the victim may need a blood transfusion.

oklahoma city personal injury lawyer

Bone Fractures in Child Car Accident Victims

While the arms, legs, and joints do not contain any vital organs, damage to these areas of the body can still result in profuse, life-threatening blood loss.  Even if bleeding is minimal, bone fractures can cause considerable pain, take months to fully heal, necessitate expensive surgery, and, if the bone fails to heal correctly, make future fractures more likely.  The most common fractures seen in children included:

  • Arm and Shoulder Injuries (Upper Extremity Injuries)
    • Broken Collarbone (Clavicle Fracture)
    • Broken Upper Arm (Humerus Fracture)
    • Forearm Fractures (Ulna/Radius Fracture)
  • Leg and Hip Injuries (Lower Extremity Injuries)
    • Broken Hip (Pelvic Fracture)
    • Thigh Injuries (Femur Fracture)
    • Lower Leg Injuries (Fibula/Tibia Fracture)

For a comprehensive review, you may be interested in reading the full text of the NHTSA report.

Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers Have the Experience To Help Your Case

If your child suffered a broken bone, brain injury, or other severe injury in a car accident, your family may have a right to compensation from the driver who caused the crash.  Call the Oklahoma personal injury lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 for a free and confidential consultation today.