Car accident injuries and damages caused by a rear-end collision (when the front of a vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle) can vary between a minor dent and bruising to a totaled car and traumatic brain injuries.
Many often underestimate how injured they really are and how much medical care and repairs must be done. Any wreck, no matter how minor it may seem, should be taken seriously from the start. And you should always get medical attention as soon as possible if you were involved in an accident.
Let’s examine some of the most common effects of being rear-ended.
Most Common Physical Injuries After a Rear-End Car Accident
Here is a list of some of the physical and emotional effects of being rear-ended, from the most common injuries to the more extreme injuries:
Whiplash and Neck Injuries
Whiplash refers to neck, shoulder, and upper back injuries caused by the head and neck being snapped forward by sudden movement. Even at low speeds, a fender bender can cause whiplash. The impact causes the muscles and ligaments of the neck and shoulder to stretch beyond their normal range in a fraction of a second, straining or tearing soft tissue.
Whiplash injuries can be quite painful and may linger for days or weeks. Severe pain that persists for several days, spreads throughout the arms and legs, and/or creates numbness, weakness, or tingling should never be ignored. These signs are the body’s way of saying something is very wrong. Other whiplash symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, stiffness, muscle spasms, and shoulder pain.
Back and Spinal Injuries
Back and spinal injuries are also common in rear-end car accidents. Spinal injuries are serious because they can stay with a person for the rest of their life. The force and impact from being rear-ended can compress the spine, put pressure on the vertebrae, and bruise lower back muscles and ligaments.
One of the most common symptoms we hear about after a person is hurt in a rear-end collision is bulging and herniated discs. A disc sits in between the bony vertebra of the spine. Shaped like small pancakes, these gelatinous structures act as shock absorbers and use ligaments to hold the spine together. But a rear-end accident can force these discs out of position or cause them to tear open and leak, putting painful pressure against the spinal cord. This pinching can cause symptoms including pain, numbness, or tingling in the back or other parts of the body.
Another common back injury caused by rear-end crashes that many people don’t know about are facet joint injuries.
Arm and Wrist Injuries
A driver typically has their hands on the steering wheel at the time of a rear-end collision. They may have even noticed the vehicle coming toward them in their rearview mirror and instinctively braced their arms for the impact. By stiffening the hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, the person may suffer multiple injuries. This can include broken wrists, wrist sprain, stress fractures, a dislocated shoulder or joint, and tendon damage.
Broken Bones and Fractured Ribs
An airbag deploying in a rear-end crash can punch a person in the chest, potentially causing broken bones in the ribcage. Cracked ribs may also be caused by the seatbelt pulling taut. Loose objects inside the vehicle can smash into the victim’s face, or the victim’s limbs could strike against a part of the car.
It may not always be obvious that a bone is fractured, especially after a traumatic accident. A non-obvious broken bone may be accompanied by a deep, intense ache or sharp pain. Other signs include bruising, stiffness, swelling, heat, weakness, dizziness, or feeling chilly. You may have trouble using the affected body part or notice the bone seems bent at an odd angle.
Facial Injuries and Disfigurement
Facial scarring and disfigurement are serious side effects of a rear-end car accident. Types of facial injuries include bruising, cuts, lacerations, scrapes, broken noses, and dental issues such as broken or knocked-out teeth and jawbone damage. Shattered glass, unsecured debris, and/or slamming into the window, dashboard, or steering wheel are all reasons why someone could suffer an injury to the face due to their car being struck from behind.
Some of these facial injuries will require long-term treatment and multiple surgeries to help the victim recover. Serious scarring or deformities may also necessitate counseling.
Skull and Brain Injuries
A vehicle does not have to be going fast to cause injuries when it crashes into the back of another car. Any rear-end collision can lead to brain or head injuries, given the right circumstances.
Head injuries may be obvious, especially if a person was impaled or has an open head wound. The most dangerous type of head injury is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Whiplash can cause the brain to slam against the skull, causing a concussion, bruising, bleeding, torn neurons, and swelling. Concussions, no matter how “mild,” should be taken seriously. Head trauma can cause problems days or weeks after the rear-end crash, and your symptoms should never be ignored.
Treating a head injury or a brain injury can take weeks, months, or years. The damage can sometimes be permanent, even deadly.
Crushed Limbs, Amputation, and Paralysis
A severe car accident may involve high speeds, cause a chain reaction wreck, shove a vehicle into oncoming traffic, or force it into the back of another car. Any of these scenarios can cause serious injuries to the spine, leaving a victim partially or fully paralyzed. Spinal injuries may be permanent or require years of treatment and physical therapy to gain a mild recovery.
In severe rear-end accidents where the car is totaled or crumpled, the victim’s limbs may be crushed or severed. They may be faced with the agonizing choice of either salvaging a damaged limb or removing it. They may also have woken up in the hospital with their limb already amputated. Crushed limbs and amputation are serious, life-altering injuries requiring multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, and often decreased quality of life.
Emotional Effects of a Rear-End Accident
The emotional aftermath of a rear-end accident can also take a toll on an injured victim and their family. Medical bills, debt collectors, missing work or school, nightmares, and anxiety can leave a person feeling overwhelmed and distressed.
Fortunately, Georgia state law allows injured victims of rear-end collisions the right to pursue a personal injury settlement. The hours and days immediately after a rear-end accident are crucial for building a case. Nothing can undo what happened, but you can make sure that you are financially compensated for your pain and suffering.
Experienced legal counsel can help give you peace of mind and comfort while you focus on getting medical care and healing.
Who Covers the Costs of a Rear-End Collision?
If you were not the person who caused the wreck, then you have the right to recover a rear-end collision settlement. That means the person who is at fault for the crash is financially responsible for the damages, losses, and bills you accrue. Typically, the person’s car insurance provider will step in to cover the accident’s expenses, including time missed from work, vehicle repairs, physical therapy, and other costs.
Get Legal Help After a Rear-End Accident
Gary Martin Hays & Associates has been serving rear-end accident victims for more than 30 years. Our Atlanta rear-end car accident lawyers are ready to discuss your claim today. Give us a call at (770) 934-8000 or begin chatting with our client services team for a free consultation.