The Leading Causes of Serious Injury [infographic]

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 5.8 million individuals die as a result of some type of injury each year throughout the world. This is equal to approximately 10 percent of deaths worldwide. In the United States, unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of death for adults ages 25-64, but it is followed closely by injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents.

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The Leading Causes of Serious Injury


The number of individuals who lose their lives to injuries only represents a small fraction of those who are seriously injured, however. Tens of millions of people throughout the world suffer serious injuries result in hospitalization or medical treatment from other types of health care providers. Many of those who survive significant injuries are left with temporary or permanent disabilities. In fact, WHO reports that 16 percent of disabilities throughout the world are the result of an injury. When it comes to serious injuries that are nonfatal in America, the leading causes are as follows.

  • Unintentional Falls: The leading cause of serious injury in the United States for individuals ages 0-9 and those 25 or older is unintentional falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that unintentional falls cause more than 9 million serious injuries across all age groups each year- more than two times any other type of injury.
  • Struck By or Against an Object: According to the CDC, the second leading cause of significant injury in the United States is being struck by or against an object. More than 4 million Americans are seriously injured each year from such injuries.
  • Overexertion: The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that overexertion is the third leading cause of unintentional injury in the U.S. Responsible for more than 3 million serious injuries in America each year, overexertion is often the result of improper lifting, repetitive motion, or working in an awkward position. Injuries to the back, shoulder, wrists or knees are common.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Crashes involving motor vehicles are the fourth leading cause of significant injury in America, accounting for approximately 2.4 million incidents each year. Since motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death due to injury worldwide, this is ranking is not surprising.
  • Cut/ Pierce: Injuries sustained from cuts or piercings are the fifth most common in America, accounting for nearly 2 million incidents yearly.