Rear End-Collision Injuries and How You Can Recover
Anderson Injury Lawyers | October 5, 2022 | Car Accidents
These crashes injured or killed over 24,350 motorists. The injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to brain injuries and paralysis.
As a Texas driver, it is important to learn about rear-end collision injuries and how you can recover from them.
The Science of Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end crashes happen when a trailing vehicle hits the back of a leading vehicle. These crashes usually happen due to careless or aggressive driving by the driver of the trailing vehicle.
Some common behaviors that lead to rear-end crashes include:
- Distracted driving
Occasionally, the driver of the leading vehicle causes a rear-end crash. Some ways this can happen include:
- Brake-checking the trailing vehicle
- Cutting the trailing vehicle off
- Colliding with another vehicle, leading to a chain reaction collision
Rear-end crashes happen while the vehicles travel in the same direction. As a result, rear-end collisions usually involve less energy than head-on or angle collisions.
The lower level of crash energy shows up in the statistics. According to CRIS, rear-end collisions in Texas in 2021 caused about 230 fatalities and 24,000 injuries. This means 0.3% of rear-end crashes in Texas caused at least one death, 29.4% resulted in an injury, and 70.3% resulted in property damage only.
How Do Rear-End Collisions Cause Injuries?
In a collision, your body will keep moving in the same direction as before the crash. The abrupt change in direction during the collision can injure you by hyperextending your body as it twists and turns to stay with your vehicle.
During a rear-end collision, the driver of the leading vehicle will often hit the brakes to regain control of the vehicle as it suddenly jerks forward. The leading vehicle might also get pushed into the vehicle ahead of it.
The sudden stop due to the brakes or the secondary collision will cause the occupants of the leading vehicle to lurch forward out of their seats. Seat belts will stop the motion of their bodies, but their heads will swing forward, stressing their necks in the opposite direction.
The occupants of the trailing vehicle experience the opposite motions. During the initial collision, they jerk forward as their vehicle suddenly stops. Their bodies hit their seat belts, and their heads whip forward.
As the trailing vehicle comes to a stop, the occupants fall back into their seats. If the vehicle gets hit from behind in a chain reaction crash, the occupants will then experience another round of back-and-forth whipping.
What Are Some Common Rear-End Collision Injuries?
The injuries commonly found in rear-end accident victims come from the back-and-forth motion the vehicle occupants experience. These injuries include:
When your chest hits your seat belt, it can get bruised. Bruises happen when blood vessels under the skin rupture. Bleeding under your skin causes discoloration, pain, and swelling.
Ligaments hold your ribs to the vertebrae of your spine. Cartilage holds your ribs to your sternum. During a rear-end collision, the forces on your chest can tear the cartilage and stretch or tear the ligaments.
A dislocated rib can press on nearby nerves and cause symptoms such as:
- Pain, particularly when inhaling
- A rib that feels loose
Chest pain can also signify a more serious injury. You should always see a doctor if you experience chest pain after a car accident.
Neck and Back Strain
You have muscles throughout your neck and back that provide movement and strength. As your body whips back and forth during a rear-end collision, you hyperextend these muscles and tendons.
Neck and back strain happens when the muscles and tendons of your neck and back get stretched or torn.
Symptoms of a strained neck or back include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle spasms
The word “whiplash” often refers to neck and back strain from a car accident.
Sprained Neck and Back
Ligaments hold your spine together. They also hold your ribs to your spine. These bands of elastic tissue give your skeleton structure and flexibility.
Neck and back sprains happen when the ligaments get stretched or torn.
Symptoms of a sprained neck or back include:
- Neck or back instability
- Limited range of motion
You might also have heard or felt your neck or back pop when you injured it. This popping sound or sensation only happens with sprains and does not happen with strains.
Collagen discs sit between your vertebrae. These discs cushion your neck and back. They also give the vertebrae a smooth, tough surface to move on.
After you hyperextend your spine during a rear-end collision, the ligaments pull your vertebrae back. The vertebrae can crush discs as they crash together.
Injured discs cause back instability and pain. They can also press on nearby nerve roots, causing pain that radiates into your arms or legs.
Recovery from Rear-End Collision Injuries
You can recover from minor strains, sprains, and bruises with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Severe sprains and strains, particularly those that involve a full-thickness tear of a tendon, ligament, or muscle, will take longer to heal. Doctors usually avoid operating on strains or sprains unless the tissue cannot heal without surgery.
A dislocated rib or bruised chest will also heal on its own in most cases. Cartilage takes a long time to regrow, so you might experience symptoms for a few months after your crash.
The most serious whiplash-related injuries include deformed discs. Doctors cannot repair discs. Instead, they will remove the disc if necessary and either fuse the adjacent vertebrae or replace it with an artificial disc.
What Compensation Can You Get for Rear-End Collision Injuries?
After a rear-end collision, accident victims can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurer. This compensation can cover both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include your medical costs and lost income. Non-economic losses include the reduction in your quality of life due to disabilities, pain, and mental suffering. By pursuing compensation, you can ensure you get the medical treatment and therapy you need to recover from your injuries.