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How Does the Human Body React in a Car Crash?

Crash test dummy inside a car with its head leaning on an air bag.

Your Body and the Three Stages of a Car Accident

We all know the infamous Newton's First Law of Motion, also referred to as the law of inertia. It's often quoted as, "An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion, stays in motion." But sometimes we forget the second part of this law that states, "With the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." When it comes to car crashes, the law of inertia applies to these three stages of a motor vehicle collision:

1. Vehicle Collision

No matter what speed your car travels, a crash will put your vehicle at a sudden and violent stop. As the car slows down on impact, the vehicle will begin to crush. When you view a car after it's been involved in a crash, you may notice that the area of impact may have an accordion-like appearance. This is because car manufacturers design vehicles with "crumple zones" to lessen some of the crash's energy to protect the people inside. The crumple zone is typically located in the front and rear of vehicles and acts as a buffer to help cushion the blow of a collision by extending the deceleration time, so your car stops less suddenly to minimize the force.

2. Human Collision

Although "crumple zones" help with deceleration, occupants in the vehicle will still move in the same direction and speed as before the collision. Inertia will continue to move them toward the point of impact until something like a seat belt or airbag stops them. Without seat belt restraints or airbags, an unrestrained person can otherwise be unsafely stopped by a dashboard or window — which can lead to catastrophic injuries. Drivers and passengers should always buckle up for safety.

3. Internal Collision

As the vehicle and occupants slow down, the third stage of internal collision also means that organs and body tissues inside the body are still moving toward the point of impact. The body's organs will continue to move until other organs or bones stop them in the body. This is why car crashes are the leading causes of catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

How to Protect Yourself in a Car Crash

Before getting behind the wheel, it's critical to remember that safety should be a priority. Here are some ways you can stay protected should you be involved in a car crash:

  • Always wear your seatbelt. It's not a myth that seatbelts save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), buckling up can cut the risk of sustaining a fatal injury by nearly 50%. If you have children traveling with you, keep them appropriately restrained for their age in a car seat or booster seat.
  • Keep a proper distance from your steering wheel. If you are involved in a crash, sitting too close to the steering wheel can result in rib fractures and soft tissue injuries. It's also important to understand that if your airbag deploys in a car accident, you can sustain wrist injuries, abrasions, burns, and contusions to the arms, chest, and face.
  • Store away loose items. Laptops or even smaller items like cell phones and navigation devices can be projectiles in a crash and cause an injury if it strikes someone within the vehicle. The safest place to keep loose items is in the trunk of your car.

Injured in a Car Crash? Meyerkord & Kurth is Here For You.

Sustaining a severe injury as the result of a car accident is a devastating experience. Not only can it take a toll on you mentally and physically, but it can be financially taxing as well. From medical bills to the expenses of long-term treatments and therapies, we are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Our experienced attorneys are ready to battle the insurance companies that often try to give lowball settlements. Know that we are your advocates and will support you every step of the way.

Contact Meyerkord & Kurth today at (800) 391-4318 to learn more about recovering compensation for your injuries.

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