A terrible fact of life is that car accidents are common and, even worse, frequently deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 30 is motor vehicle accidents. In 2020, motor vehicle crashes killed nearly 39,000 people. 

High-speed car crashes were the leading cause of these fatalities. Learning about what happens to your body during a crash is not for the faint of heart. Understanding these tragic situations, however, may help prevent future travesties.

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What is a high-speed impact crash?

When a car accident happens, one of the factors that is determined is whether it was a high-speed or low-speed collision. Serious impact, or high speed, collisions are a result of vehicles traveling 30 mph or more. These are commonly found in locations where speed limits are higher such as interstates and freeways. 

Greater speeds will increase the likelihood of accidents occurring. Although there is no specific designation for crashes that occur at accelerated rates, these accidents will also magnify the chances of severe or fatal injuries. 

What injuries can happen to your body during a car crash?

The potential for catastrophic damage to your body during car accidents is high, particularly in a high-speed car crash. Several factors will account for what injuries you might sustain, such as:

  • Whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt
  • The object you hit
  • Your physical condition
  • Position of the steering wheel
  • Whether your vehicle has airbags
  • Objects in your vehicle that were not securely fastened down

Not all injuries sustained from an accident will come from the vehicle itself. Objects inside your vehicle can act as projectiles at high velocity. Additionally, if you are tense or stressed, your muscles may react differently to the impact causing added resistance and strain to your body. Some of the more common injuries sustained during a high-speed crash include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Broken bones, including pelvic fractures
  • Damaged internal organs
  • Scraps, cuts, and lacerations
  • Bruises
  • Rips and tears of muscles and tendons
  • Whiplash
  • Upper body and spine trauma
  • Traumatic brain injury 

What happens to your body during and after a car crash can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Arming yourself with the knowledge of what could potentially happen may help make us better drivers, thus reducing the chances of high-speed and other crashes. 

Emotional response and physical side effects from adrenaline during a car accident.

A hormone that our bodies naturally produce is adrenaline. Its purpose is to induce powerful reactions to what our bodies subconsciously perceive as life-threatening situations. This boost of energy is known as an adrenaline rush. 

Side Effects of an Adrenaline Rush 

Initially, your body will be capable of feats of strength or clarity previously experienced. After this wears off, however, the body goes through a withdrawal, and a person can experience several side effects accompanying the adrenaline leaving the body. These effects can include:

  • Shaking, often in the hands 
  • Fainting or weak knees
  • Crying or intense emotion

Emotional Response of an Adrenaline Rush

When you first experience an adrenaline rush, your body has an extreme burst of kinetic energy. It will also experience a dampening of pain. This is due to the adrenaline but also the surge of endorphins that are released. All of this emotion and physical excitement will often result in severe emotional responses once the effects have worn off. Many people experience symptoms such as:

  • Uncontrollable emotional reactions
  • Severe emotional responses to everyday actions
  • Shock or PTSD
  • Inability to be intimate or sexually perform

This is a result of the body’s tendency to dip below the normal levels of endorphins and adrenaline after it has released so much into the system. These subpar levels create emotional distress. 

How wearing a seatbelt can save your life in a high-speed impact crash.

seatbelt buckled in

Knowing what happens to your body in a fatal car accident is important, but understanding the steps you can take to prevent death is even more crucial. Other than practicing safe driving habits, wearing a seat belt continues to be one of the simplest yet most effective life-saving activities a driver can do. They can raise your chance of survival by nearly 45%, according to the CDC. 

There are two main reasons for this:

  • A seat belt prevents a person from being ejected from a car. 
  • It limits some of the force that your body could potentially endure, such as slamming into the steering wheel on impact. 

If you buckle up, you’re not only obeying the law, you are also potentially saving your life.  

Types of damages you can sue for in a high-speed impact car accident. 

A car accident lawyer can tell you that you may be eligible for more than a basic insurance settlement if you have been injured in a car crash, especially a high-speed accident. There are a number of different types of damages you can claim from a car accident injury. These damages can include: 

  • Loss of affection or companionship
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

How can a car accident attorney help if you were injured in a crash?

car accident attorney meeting with client

If you have experienced an injury from a vehicular incident, it’s time to contact a skilled car accident attorney. An experienced attorney will review your claims and help you determine if there are enough facts to move forward. At Bachus & Schanker, you’ll have an expert legal team eager to help you get the compensation you deserve


Banks, R. (2022). What Happens To Your Body During a Car Accident?.
Miraudo, S. (2016). Let Science Explain What Happens To Your Body In A Car Crash (It Ain’t Pretty).
Policy Impact: Seat Belts | Transportation Safety | Injury Center. (2011).
State by state. (2022).
Types of Damages You Can Qualify for in Car Accident Claims. (2023).

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.