What is a Soft Tissue Injury in a Car Crash?

Soft tissues encompass the muscles, ligaments, and tendons—they connect and support joints, internal organs, and other body parts. Car crashes often result in these types of injuries, but insurance companies tend to minimize them.

Often these injuries will heal, however, for some people– permanent pain and disability are possibilities. While it is also crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident, some soft tissue injuries may not become apparent for 48 hours or more after the collision.

A Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyer from our firm will fight for your rights so you may receive the compensation you deserve for these painful and debilitating injuries. While most cases are settled, we will go to trial when necessary.

Common soft tissue injuries

Strains, which involve the tendons, and sprains, involving the ligaments, are the most common types of soft tissue injuries. The sudden trauma of the impact causes the tissue to stretch or tear. Other common soft tissue injuries include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament tear– This ligament stabilizes the knee, connecting the femur to the tibia.
  • Torn rotator cuff– the rotator cuff provides shoulder stability.
  • Nerve damage
  • Deep muscle bruising

Suspect a soft tissue injury if the affected area becomes sore, stiff, swollen, or your range of motion is limited. Failure to seek prompt treatment not only affects your insurance claim but may cause the injury to worsen.


Perhaps the best-known of the soft tissue injuries, frequently resulting from car accidents, whiplash refers to the rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck, like a whip cracking. Whiplash most often affects occupants of a vehicle rear-ended in an accident, usually at a slow speed.

Besides pain and limited range of motion, whiplash symptoms may include:

  • Arm numbness or tingling
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Mood swings

Older accident victims, or those previously experiencing whiplash, often take longer to recover or may not recover completely.

Soft tissue injury treatment

Many soft tissue injuries respond well to rest, icing, physical therapy, massage, appropriate pain management, and time. Soft tissue injuries that do not respond to conservative treatment may improve with steroid injections into the affected area.

However, there are some for which surgical repair is often required, including rotator cuff and anterior cruciate ligament tears. This often means a long period of recuperation in which the patient is unable to work.

What to do after a soft tissue injury

If this has happened to you, go to the doctor immediately and make it clear the injury resulted from a motor vehicle accident. Keep a daily record of your symptoms and pain levels and the effects of any treatments.

The healthcare provider may recommend various diagnostic tests to determine the source of your injury, but soft tissue injuries are harder to detect than, for example, a fracture on an X-ray.

Such tests may include MRIs or CT scans, but the doctor also relies on a physical examination and the patient’s history for diagnostic purposes.

The more detailed and documented your medical records are, the better it is for your claim. Do not make any statements to them regarding your injuries before obtaining legal counsel.

Insurance companies may claim the injury did not occur because of the accident, but an old injury aggravated by overuse. Any inadvertent remark could damage your case, so let a lawyer handle it.

Contact our team of Pittsburgh car accident lawyers

If you or a loved one suffered a serious soft tissue injury in a car crash, you need the services of a dedicated Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyer. Schedule a free consultation today with us by calling or contacting us online.  

Our attorneys have recovered more than $1 billion for their clients. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win.