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What Are Soft Tissue Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?

Soft tissue injuries are the most common type of injuries caused by car accidents. In more than 35 years practicing personal injury law in North Carolina, we’ve represented clients in thousands of auto accident cases involving soft tissue injuries.

What is Soft Tissue?

Common Soft Tissue Injuries Caused by Car Accidents - Riddle & BrantleySoft tissue includes skin, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, fat, muscles, and blood vessels. Soft tissue does not include bones, which are known as hard tissue.

Common Soft Tissue Injuries Caused by Car Accidents 

There are many types of soft tissue injuries caused by car, truck, and other motor vehicle accidents. Some of the most common soft tissue injuries caused by car accidents include:


A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones. When a ligament stretches or tears, it’s called a sprain, and it means that the joint is no longer stable or adequately supported.

Common body parts that may be sprained in a car accident include the wrists, ankles, and knees.

There are three “grades” of sprains:

  • Grade 1 — the sprain is mild, and typically involves only light stretching and limited damage to the ligament
  • Grade 2 — the sprain is moderate, and there is a partial tear in the ligament
  • Grade 3 — the sprain is severe, and the ligament is fully torn and the joint is non-functional

Common sprains caused by car accidents include ACL tears and MCL tears.

Symptoms of sprains include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising (contusions)
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Impaired flexibility

Sprains Caused by Car Accidents - Riddle & BrantleyAn x-ray is often required in order to diagnose a sprain. Your doctor will also complete a physical examination.

Sprains occur with a wide range of severity and potential treatment may include RICE (rest, ice,

compression, elevation), immobilization, physical therapy, and/or surgery.


A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. A tendon is a type of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains resulting from car accidents often affect the back, legs, and feet.

Strains can be full or partial, and result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramping
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Limited range of motion

Depending on the symptoms and severity of a potential strain, a doctor may rely on an x-ray to make a formal diagnosis.


Contusion is the medical term for bruising.

Contusions are caused by direct or repeated blows to soft tissue, where the force of impact crushes underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue. While the skin does not break, the capillaries and blood vessels beneath the skin are damaged, and blood leaks into surrounding tissue, causing the dark splotches most commonly known as bruises.

Symptoms of contusions (bruising) include:

  • Pain
  • Discoloration
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Tenderness
  • Swollenness

While painful, contusions are generally less serious than other soft tissue injuries and will typically go away on their own. Rest and ice packs can help speed recovery.

Cerebral Contusions and Concussions

Cerebral contusions and concussions are more serious than standard contusions, and occur when there is bruising, bleeding, or swelling within the skull and around the brain. These injuries are commonly known as closed head injuries.

These injuries can be life-threatening and are even more dangerous because they are not always visible.

Symptoms of closed head injuries include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Loss of speech 

Closed Head Injuries in Car Accidents - Riddle & BrantleyCerebral contusions and concussions may be diagnosed with a neuropsychological exam, a CT scan, or MRI.


Lacerations, otherwise known as cuts or scrapes, occur when the skin is broken. Muscles and tendons may be severed, as well, and bleeding is common.

Some lacerations are minor, while others require stitches or even surgery.

Lacerations are the most common form of soft tissue injury resulting from car accidents.


Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury caused by car accidents. It occurs when the head and neck are forced back and forth in a sudden, violent manner.

In the medical community, whiplash is known as cervical sprain/strain, or hyperextension.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Sharp neck pain
  • Back problems
  • Cognitive issues

It’s important to note that in some cases, symptoms of whiplash won’t develop for days after the car accident. Whiplash can also take days or even weeks to go away.

If you’ve been injured in a North Carolina car, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle accident, call Riddle & Brantley at 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE, no-obligation consultation.

You may be entitled to compensation and we would love to help however we can.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident in North Carolina? 

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in North Carolina, you deserve justice and you may be entitled to compensation if the accident was due to another’s negligence.

For a FREE consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer handling claims throughout North Carolina, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the convenient form below.

There is never any obligation and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive compensation.

For more than 35 years, our experienced injury attorneys have been fighting for the people of North Carolina and visitors to our great state, and we’re proud of our record of success and the way our clients talk about their experience working with us.

Since 1985, we’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of deserving victims (see disclaimer below). Our attorneys have over 200 years of combined legal experience.

  • “Every time I’ve needed them, they were there for me.” Tyronnie T.
  • “Riddle & Brantley found me all the available money from the insurance companies.” David Howard
  • “It was nice to see Riddle & Brantley put me and my needs first.” Colley
  • “They turned a heartbreaking situation completely around.” Tonya Taylor
  • “They handled my case very professionally, with respect from beginning to end.” Joseph P.

 “This settlement changed me and my family’s lives.”

Linda B., Riddle & Brantley client

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

Justice Counts for those injured due to others’ negligence and we would love to help you and your loved ones if we can.


*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.