Although many people associate car accidents with back or neck injuries, such accidents can also lead to serious leg and foot problems. Trauma to the lower body isn’t as likely to be fatal as a head or chest injury, but it can impair quality of life and require extensive medical treatment.
In frontal collisions, most injuries to the feet and lower legs are caused by the floor and the pedals. During accidents, these components can “intrude” into the driver’s space in the cabin. That can lead to everything from cuts and bruises to major contusions and bone fractures. Knees and upper legs are also vulnerable to injury in some crashes. During frontal collisions, the knees can be flung into the instrument panel and thighs can be propelled upwards into the steering wheel. In both cases, deep tissue bruises are likely. Around 3.5% of drivers involved in frontal collisions experience lower leg and foot injuries, and about 1.5% experience upper leg injuries.
Side impact collisions (like getting “T-boned”) can also lead to serious leg injuries. Side airbags are less common, so cuts, bruises, and breaks are likely to occur when legs slam into car doors. The sudden changes in speed and direction associated with side impact accidents can also tear ligaments in the knees and ankles.
The most serious leg injuries occur when individuals are pinned or trapped under a vehicle. In these situations, multiple fractures of the same bone are likely to occur. These types of injuries often require multiple surgeries, metal rods and hundreds of hours of physical therapy to heal.
Leg injuries aren’t as common in auto accidents as torso and head injuries, but they do occur frequently. These sorts of injuries can prevent victims from working and from leading full and happy lives. The risk of leg injury can be reduced by positing the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard, or by sitting in the back seat.