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Broken Glass Injuries in a Car Accident: Severity and Treatment

Close up of the shattered windscreen and wipers of a car that has been involved in an accident

A severe car crash can shatter your windshield, rear window, or door window. Large chunks of glass may fly about, with countless razor-sharp particles scattering about inside the vehicle and around the scene of the accident.

Glass can embed itself into the driver and passengers right after impact. Other times accident victims cut themselves while moving around. In a rollover accident where a vehicle lands on its side or roof, the person may be forced to crawl out via shattered windows onto the glass-covered ground and suffer painful lacerations as a result.

If you’ve been hurt due to broken glass after a car accident, contact our team of auto accident attorneys. We understand the pain and suffering that comes from broken glass injuries and wrecks.

How Broken Glass Injuries Happen

There are typically two ways glass injuries occur due to a motor vehicle accident.

The first is glass becoming embedded in the skin from a high-velocity impact. The greater the speed of one or more vehicles involved in the crash, the more force is exerted on the frame. When this force transfers to the car’s windows, they can shatter, and shards of glass turn into high-speed projectiles that penetrate the skin and, in rare cases, bone.

Glass injuries are also common when a person ejects from their vehicle during a crash. If a person isn’t wearing their seatbelt or their belt buckle was loose or broken, they may be thrown from the vehicle. Glass can embed itself into their body as they crash through the window or land on glass shards and other debris scattered on the road.

Finally, glass injuries can happen by rubbing against, falling on, grabbing, or stepping on broken glass. A person’s first instinct after a crash is usually to get out of the damaged vehicle and away from danger. They may grab the inside of a broken window, have to climb out of the window over jagged shards, or crawl through a window and over the glass-littered ground.

Any of these situations can lead to deep cuts and glass embedding itself into the body.

Types of Broken Glass Injuries and Treatments

A violent car accident can cause glass splinters or shards to cut or bury into the skin, head, face, eyes, and hands. These can be quite painful and may lead to severe blood loss, depending on how deep the puncture wound is.

Glass Splinters

A person can accumulate numerous glass splinters in a crash. These can be easily overlooked if there are more traumatic injuries present.

Sometimes tiny splinters and slivers can be left alone, the body eventually pushing them out via shedding or pimples. If you want to remove them, try tweezers sterilized with rubbing alcohol, thick tape, or wax hair remover. After removal, wash the area with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment.

If you cannot remove a glass splinter on your own or you notice the injured area looks red and swollen, contact your doctor immediately or go to an urgent care clinic. A glass injury can quickly become infected. You may need a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the last five years.


Lacerations from broken car windows in a high-speed impact are a common injury. Cuts can range in severity depending on how large the pieces are and how deep they are buried. The deeper a piece of glass is buried under the skin, the more problematic treatment can become, especially if infection sets in.

Punctured and Severed Arteries

Large shards of glass may puncture or sever arteries, leading to rapid blood loss. Unless treated quickly, the wound may result in further complications and even death.

In rare cases, glass particulates can enter the bloodstream. When they come in contact with various organs, they cause an inflammatory response.

Catastrophic Glass Injuries

Auto glass is made to be durable, especially windshields. Windshields are made of two layers of tempered glass with a vinyl layer laminated between them. When a person crashes through a windshield, they are being forced through a dense material that doesn’t want to come apart.

When a person impacts a car window at rapid speed, they can suffer terrible injuries. Glass injuries can puncture the skull and cause brain bleeds. Spinal cord injuries can happen if glass punctures and damages the neck and spine.

In rare cases, thick pieces of jagged glass act like large blades, severing limbs or decapitating victims.

Broken Glass Injury Treatment

Small cuts may only require basic first aid, while deeper cuts may need stitches and leave light scarring. Minor glass injuries often require only short-term care but should not be ignored due to the risk of infection.

Severe cuts that penetrate muscles, nerves, and other organs will require more serious medical intervention, such as wound care and surgery. Complex surgeries or improper medical care can leave behind permanent scarring and disfigurement.

Treatment for chronic pain, restricted mobility, and psychological trauma may also be needed.

Glass in the Skin: First Aid

Here’s how to remove small pieces of glass that are embedded just under the surface of the skin:

  • Wash your hands and clean the injured area with soap and water.
  • Use tweezers cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
  • If the piece of glass is difficult to grab, sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol and use it to gently break the skin and lift the end of the glass shard upright. Use tweezers to remove.
  • Wash the area again, pat dry, and apply antibiotic ointment.

For glass shards deeply embedded in the skin or muscle, do not try to remove them. Lightly bandage the wound with gauze or a clean cloth. Then, seek medical help immediately.

Hurt by Broken Glass?

Broken glass injuries in car accidents can be painful and sometimes lead to serious disabilities and mental health issues. If you’ve suffered an injury from broken glass as well as other car accident injuries, talk with our Atlanta personal injury attorneys.

We can investigate the person at-fault for the accident and whether the manufacturer or auto glass specialist was negligent in the production or installation of any car windows. Once responsibility is determined and you have finished treatment for your glass injuries, we can negotiate with the insurance company to compensate you for your pain, emergency bills, property damage, and more.

Start a live chat with our legal team or call (770) 934-8000 for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.

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