Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 202–217 | Cite as

Motor Vehicle Collisions and Their Consequences—Part 1: Common Physical, Psychosocial, and Cognitive Outcomes

  • Tony IezziEmail author
  • Melanie P. Duckworth


Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) have a significant impact on injured persons and society. MVCs generally result in property damage, but more serious MVCs often result in physical injuries that have significant physical, psychosocial, and cognitive consequences, all of which may result in long-standing functional impairment and disability as well as marked changes in quality of life. This article represents the first part of a two-part review of MVCs; the complex and interactive array of physical, psychosocial, and cognitive changes that occur consequent to injury-causing MVCs; and the person and environmental factors that best predict functional impairment and disability following an MVC. The current article provides an overview of the scope and significance of MVCs and summarizes the literature related to the physical injuries and the physical, psychosocial, and cognitive impairments that are most commonly experienced consequent to MVCs. Physical injuries reviewed in the current article include fractures, whiplash-associated disorders (WADs), traumatic brain injury (TBI), multiple traumatic injuries or polytrauma, and chronic pain conditions. These injuries and conditions are reviewed because of the relative quantity and quality of existing research related to these injuries and conditions. This article also provides a review of those psychological disorders that more commonly begin, recur, or are exacerbated in the aftermath of an MVC. The following psychological disorders are reviewed: posttraumatic stress disorder, complex posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, somatic symptom disorder, and major neurocognitive disorder and mild neurocognitive disorder. Finally, this article ends with a brief discussion of changes in quality of life that can occur in relation to the physical injuries and psychological and neurocognitive disorders that are common consequences of MVCs. The final section of this article will serve to introduce part II of this review of MVCs and their consequences, in which predictors of MVC-related impairment and disability are discussed.


Motor vehicle collisions Physical injuries Psychological disorders Neurocognitive disorders Impairment and disability Quality of life 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine ServiceLondon Health Sciences CentreLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA

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