Back and Neck Injuries in Rear-End Collisions
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Types of Back and Neck Injuries in Rear-End Collisions

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Rear-end collisions are a common type of car accident, and the types of back and neck injuries in rear-end car accidents can damage the spine and neck, leading to long-term pain and discomfort. Spinal cord injuries from car accidents make up about 40.81% of all SCIs.

Understanding the types of back injuries in rear-end car accidents can help victims recover and receive proper medical care. It can also help them seek accurate compensation for long-term damages.

The auto accident attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. are skilled in handling car accident cases involving back and neck injuries. Our partner attorney and registered nurse, Eileen Kroll, will review your medical records to establish a link between your injuries and the accident to secure the highest possible compensation for you.

Causes of Back Pain After a Rear-End Car Crash

Several types of back and neck injuries can occur in rear-end collisions with differing degrees of severity based on the accident. During a rear-end collision, the impact causes the body to jerk forward suddenly, then backward. This movement can cause stress and strain on the spine and neck, leading to neck and spinal cord damage.

Common types of back injuries in rear-end car accidents include:

  • Whiplash. Following a rear-end collision, you might experience whiplash, characterized by vigorous neck motion forward and backward motion. This motion might not always cause immediate pain but can damage the neck and back, including stretched or torn ligaments and muscles.
    The most common symptoms of whiplash can appear hours or even days after an accident. They include neck stiffness, headaches at the base of the skull, dizziness, and pain between the neck and shoulders.
  • Strained muscles. Muscular strain is one of the most common back injuries and sources of pain after a car accident. The sudden, forceful impact of a rear-end crash can cause the muscles and ligaments in your back to stretch beyond their natural limits. It can cause straining and microscopic tears, which cause pain, swelling, muscular spasms, and lowered flexibility and range of movement.
  • Bruised soft tissue. Besides muscular strains, rear-end collisions can bruise and damage other soft tissues in the back, such as the tendons and ligaments. Victims typically experience extended and widespread pain and swelling, reducing mobility and the ability to do most daily activities.
  • Herniated discs. Human spines feature vertebrae and spinal discs, which act as cushions between each vertebra. A rear-end collision can rupture or dislodge these discs, causing them to herniate; they bulge outwards.
    Herniated discs apply pressure on spinal nerves. The symptoms vary depending on the location of the herniated discs and include back pain, feelings of numbness, tingling sensations, or limb weakness.
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI). A spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord is damaged. Spinal injuries can result in partial or total paralysis that is temporary or permanent. For example, you may suffer from paraplegia or quadriplegia due to an SCI, leaving you unable to move your body from the waist or neck down, respectively.
  • Spinal fractures. Particularly forceful rear-end impacts can crack or fracture vertebrae, resulting in spinal fractures. They frequently cause severe pain and severely decreased mobility. The most severe cases result in spinal deformities or exacerbate existing ones, such as scoliosis.
  • Slipped vertebrae. When a vertebra slips forward and onto the bone directly underneath it, it creates a condition known as spondylolisthesis. Rear-end crashes can either cause vertebrae to slip or exacerbate an existing condition. Common symptoms include back stiffness, pain, and nerve compression, resulting in leg weakness or difficulty walking.
  • Compression fracture. Compression fractures occur when the vertebrae in the spine collapse or become compressed due to the force of the impact. Compression fractures can affect your posture over time and limit your movements, impacting your ability to work.
  • Lumbar spine injury. The lumbar spine is located in the lower back and is made up of five vertebrae, which can become injured or compressed in a collision. This injury can affect your bowel movements and sexual function, impacting your intimate relationship with a spouse or partner.
  • Facet joint injury. Facet joints between or behind adjacent vertebrae enable the spine to bend and move smoothly. These joints can be damaged in a rear-end collision, leading to pain, inflammation, and diminished flexibility. Without proper treatment, facet joint injuries may eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Thoracic spine injury. Thoracic spine injuries can also occur in rear-end collisions and involve a bone in the spine collapsing in the middle and upper back. These injuries can affect your arms and hands, severely limiting your job functioning and everyday activities.

Liability in Michigan Rear-End Collisions

First Steps to Take After You Were Rear-Ended in a Car Crash

If you were involved in a traffic accident where your vehicle was rear-ended by another, following the proper steps to ensure your safety and protect your rights is critical.

  • Check for injuries. Carefully check to see if you’re injured. Once you’ve assessed your own condition, turn your attention to any passengers you might have. This initial assessment is crucial for ensuring everyone’s safety and determining the next steps for seeking medical attention if necessary.
  • Move your vehicle to safety. If your vehicle is in the middle of the road, move it to the side or another safe location to avoid blocking traffic. This also reduces the risk of another collision occurring.
  • Call 911. Request law enforcement and medical assistance if you or anyone else is injured. When the police arrive at the scene, report the accident and request a copy of the police report, even if the crash was minor.
  • Swap contact information. Exchange your name, address, phone number, license plate number, insurance policy number, and any other contact information with other drivers involved in the crash. If anyone witnessed the accident, also ask for their information.
  • Document the crash. Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and that of others, any visible injuries, and any other relevant information. Write down the time, date, location, and weather conditions at the time of the crash and your account of how the accident happened.
  • Visit a medical professional. Even if you do not feel pain or discomfort after the crash, many symptoms after a rear-end crash can be delayed. Ensure a professional gives you a thorough check as soon as possible to help counter pain and symptoms. Proactively seeking medical treatment can help your case and demonstrate your commitment.
    Document all medical visits, diagnoses, and treatments. Whether it’s treatment sessions, physical therapy for chronic pain management, or prescriptions for pain medication, make sure you save all related bills and documentation as evidence.
  • Consult an attorney. A qualified auto accident attorney can guide you on the next steps to follow and ensure your rights are protected. Car accident attorneys are skilled at navigating the claims process and advocating for you in negotiations with the insurance companies of the other parties involved.

Understanding Liability in Michigan Rear-End Collisions

Michigan is a no-fault state, meaning drivers involved in a rear-end collision will file a claim with their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, regardless of who was at fault. This covers up to your elected minimum for medical expenses and lost wages, which can be as low as $50,000 in Michigan.

However, if your damages exceed your PIP coverage, you can file a third-party claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company. If your injuries exceed the serious impairment threshold for Michigan, you can work with an attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. to help you file a third-party claim or personal injury lawsuit.

For example, if your SCI leaves you permanently paralyzed, you could seek additional damages not covered by PIP insurance. These include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or emotional distress in addition to economic damages.

Additionally, you might pursue exemplary damages for injuries resulting from particularly negligent actions, such as in cases where the driver responsible for the rear-end collision was engaging in reckless driving or operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If the other driver doesn’t carry liability insurance or their policy doesn’t cover your damages, you can also work with your attorney to file a claim with your under- or uninsured motorists’ insurance.

Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for Help with Your Rear-End Collision Claim

Don’t wait to seek legal representation if you or a loved one has been involved in a rear-end collision and suffered a back or neck injury. Our experienced attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help.

We will help you navigate the legal process to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve after suffering a back injury in a rear-end car accident.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.

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