There are many different types of motor vehicle accidents. Traffic accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities, including head-on accidents, side-impact crashes, and rear-end collisions. However, a rear-end crash has a high chance of causing neck and back injuries. 

How Do Rear-End Collisions Cause Neck and Back Injuries?

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident. During 2018, almost one-third of traffic accidents were rear-end accidents. Of those accidents, 594,000 crashes resulted in injuries and 2,439 crashes resulted in deaths.

The way a rear-end crash occurs places a tremendous amount of force on an occupant’s back and neck. The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) posted a video showing how a rear-end collision impacts an occupant. 

At the time of the impact by the rear vehicle, the person’s body in the front vehicle moves slightly backward before being violently whipped forward and backward again. This sudden movement can cause a variety of back and neck injuries.

Some of the most common neck and back injuries after a rear-end crash include:

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when a person’s head jerks back and forth in a rear-end crash. The “whipping” motion causes tears or strains to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck. Whiplash can cause severe pain and limited range of motion.

Many cases of whiplash heal in a few weeks after the accident. Doctors might prescribe pain medications, rest, and ice or heat. However, severe whiplash cases can cause long-term pain and other impairments that might require additional treatment and interfere with a person’s job and life.

Fractured Vertebrae

The bones in the neck and back that protect the spinal cord are called vertebrae. In a rear-end collision, the bones in the neck or back can fracture or break. Common spinal fractures include rotation, compression, flexion, and extension fractures.

Depending on the fracture’s severity, a person could require neck or back surgery to repair the spinal fracture. Fractures in the neck or back could result in permanent impairments.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The vertebrae protect the spinal cord. Any damage to the spinal column could result in damage to the spinal cord. 

Spinal cord injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis. Injuries to the spinal cord can also result in loss of bodily functions, sensation, and mobility.

Herniated Discs

The soft, gel-like material between each vertebra in the neck and back are called discs. Each disc provides a cushion and absorbs shock as we move. In an accident, the disc can bulge out of place or become torn.

Bulging or torn discs can cause extreme back and neck pain. The discs can put pressure on the nerves in the spinal column. The gel-like material can also leak out onto the nerves causing substantial pain.

Strains and Sprains

Many rear-end accident victims experience pain and limited motion because of sprains and strains. Most of these injuries heal in a few weeks, but it is wise to be checked by a physician after any car accident injury.

Symptoms of Back and Neck Injuries After a Rear-End Accident

After a rear-end accident, the symptoms you experience depend on the type and severity of the neck or back injury. However, some common symptoms can indicate you might have a back or neck injury.

Injuries to watch for after a rear-end collision include:

  • Neck or back pain, including stabbing pains or constant pain
  • Pain that radiates through the shoulders or extremities
  • Numbness or tingling throughout the arms or legs
  • Headaches 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness 
  • Problems walking, standing, or sitting
  • Loss of sensation 
  • Paralysis 
  • Loss of bowel or bladder functions
  • Weakness 

The treatment for back and neck injuries from rear-end collisions also depends on the injury’s type and severity. A doctor may perform several tests to diagnose the injury, including x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. 

The treatment for neck and back injuries might include medications, braces, physical therapy, and hot or cold compresses. In some cases, the damage is severe enough to require surgery. 

Who is Responsible for a Rear-End Collision?

In many cases, the person driving the car in the rear is responsible for causing the crash. The driver may have been following too closely, distracted, intoxicated, or drowsy. 

However, there are cases in which the front vehicle driver could have contributed to or caused the crash. A personal injury lawyer can review your case and advise you of your options for seeking compensation. 

The driver who is found at-fault for the cause of the crash is liable for the victim’s damages. You could receive compensation for your lost income, medical bills, permanent impairments, and other damages.