Car accident injuries don’t just happen to drivers. In fact, passengers are sometimes more likely to get injured in a car accident because they don’t need to be paying as much attention to the road. The back seat can also give a false sense of security for riders who feel like they are further back from the windshield and seated more toward the middle of the vehicle. However, children and adults can both suffer injuries from a car accident when riding in the back seat. Unfortunately, you could be dealing with a car accident injury even if you were simply a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about riding in the back seat of a car and what types of injuries might lead you to visit your Snellville car accident doctor.
What Can Put Back Seat Passengers at Risk
The back seat of a car may seem like the safest place in the car, but passengers in this area can still suffer serious or even life-threatening injuries. While many people think of high-speed collisions causing car accident injuries, it is also possible to get injured in what seems like a small fender-bender or rear-end collision. Here are some examples of how a back seat passenger can be at greater risk for injury from a car accident:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that children ride in a car seat for as long as possible to help keep them safe. The general recommended age for children in car seats is through age twelve as long as they meet the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. In the state of Georgia, children under the age of 8 are required to ride in a car seat or booster seat, and children less than 57 inches tall must ride in the back seat. Teens and adults riding in the backseat should always ride in a designated seat in the back of a vehicle. Passengers in a car should never double up or sit in someone’s lap, as this poses a serious safety risk for everyone in the vehicle. In the event of a crash, not only are the unrestrained passengers at greater risk for injury, but they can also accidentally injure others if they are not properly restrained during the accident.
Inadequate Seat Belts
Some older vehicles may have inadequate seat belts and safety standards in the back seat. If your vehicle has inadequate seat belts, then you may not be properly secured during a car accident. A seat belt should have two parts, one that runs from your shoulder to your hip and the other that goes across your lap. Some cars only have a lap belt in the back seat, which can leave your upper body more susceptible to injury in the event of a car accident. The main goal of a seat belt is to help hold your body in place so you do not get thrown around or ejected from the vehicle during an accident. Inadequate seat belts can put you at a much higher risk for injury as a back seat passenger.
Less Airbag Protection
Passengers in the back seat of a car also have less airbag protection than those sitting in the front seat. While the driver and front seat passenger will typically have multiple airbags to protect them, passengers in the back seat will not. The back seat may have airbags in the side doors to help protect passengers in the event of an accident, though not all cars have this feature, depending on their age, make, and model. Door-mounted side airbags can help protect back seat passengers from collisions, especially to the side of the vehicle. However, back seat passengers are still at greater risk for injuries when they are not as protected at the head, face, and neck.
5 Common Back Seat Injuries
Back seat passengers can suffer a wide range of injuries in a car accident. Here are five common back seat injuries and their symptoms.
Whiplash is the most common car accident injury and can affect passengers no matter where they are seated in the car. Whiplash occurs when the sudden force of impact causes your head and neck to snap forward and backward violently. This can occur even when you are wearing a seat belt because your head and neck cannot be safely restrained while driving or during an accident. A whiplash injury causes the muscles in your neck to become overstretched or even torn, causing pain and tenderness. You may also notice your neck becoming stiff in the days after the accident and have difficulty turning your head.
A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury that can occur during a car accident. If you hit your head on any part of the vehicle during an accident, you could suffer a concussion. A concussion is a mild TBI that has a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms of a concussion include head pain, disorientation, nausea, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light or sound. It can take a while for symptoms of a concussion to appear, so it is always important to get checked out if you hit your head during a car accident.
You could also suffer bruised ribs from a car accident while riding in the back seat. The pressure and strain from the seat belt could lead to bruised ribs, or the sudden pressure from the airbags or a collision with part of the vehicle or another passenger in the car can bruise your ribs as well. The main symptoms of bruised ribs include pain, swelling, and skin discoloration. The first thing you may notice is pain both when you are sitting still and when you laugh, cough, bend, or twist. The skin above the bruised ribs may turn purple, blue, or yellow.
While your seat belt is certainly a necessary safety feature in a vehicle, you can also suffer an unfortunate injury like a dislocated shoulder. The sudden force of impact from a car accident can cause you to jolt forward, straining against the belt and putting too much pressure on the shoulder where the seat belt crosses. You could also hit your shoulder on part of the vehicle, like the window, or against another passenger in the car. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, and a dislocated shoulder occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone shifts partially or completely out of the socket. This can cause sudden and intense pain, swelling, and numbness depending on the severity.
Broken bones are also common car accident injuries, even for back seat passengers. When another vehicle collides with the car you are riding in, it can happen suddenly and without warning. Your extremities are at greater risk for broken bones, also known as fractures. Hand, wrist, and arm fractures are common car accident injuries as your arms are not restrained by a seat belt. Your arms might jostle or flail around during the impact, colliding with a part of the vehicle and putting pressure on one or more bones. There are many types of fractures, so you will need to see a car accident doctor as soon as possible to determine the type and specificity of your broken bone.
How to Prevent Back Seat injuries
Here are some things you can do as a passenger to help prevent back seat injuries from a car accident:
- Always wear your seat belt properly
- Never share a seat with another passenger
- Make sure children have appropriate car seats
- Do not distract the driver
- Get your vehicle maintained regularly
How a Car Accident Doctor Can Help
If you do get injured in a car accident, you want to visit our trusted team of car accident doctors at AICA Orthopedics in Snellville. Here are some of the ways a car accident doctor can help:
Proper Documentation of Injuries
In the event of an accident, you want to have proper documentation of all your injuries. A car accident doctor understands the importance of documenting your injuries for your medical record as well as for any insurance claims or other needs.
Get an accurate diagnosis of your injuries from car accident doctors who see these kinds of injuries every day. Our doctors know how to spot the signs and symptoms of a car accident injury and use diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans to support the diagnosis.
Personalized Treatment Plan
At AICA Orthopedics, our team of car accident doctors will provide you with a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms and injuries. We recognize that no two people experience an injury the exact same way and work with you one-on-one to make sure you get the treatment and care you need for a full recovery.
Visit AICA Orthopedics in Snellville, where our team of car accident doctors includes orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, neurologists, and physical therapists with access to state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools all in one convenient location.