What Injuries Can You Get From Being Rear-Ended?

Driver suffering whiplash from car accident.

Rear-end collisions occur when a car is struck from behind by another vehicle. These crashes are often caused by driver inattention and failure to leave adequate distance between vehicles.

While some rear-end collisions are only minor “fender-benders” that result in little more than minor property damage, many rear-enders cause much more serious car accident injuries. Occupants in both vehicles are at risk of suffering severe or catastrophic injuries, depending on the speed of the cars traveling and other factors.

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Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common injuries suffered.

Most Common Injuries Suffered in Rear-End Collisions

Even a low-speed rear-end collision could lead to chronic or debilitating injuries. Some of the most common injuries that rear-end accident victims tend to suffer include:

  • Neck, back, and spinal injuries – Rear-end collisions can also injure the soft tissues in a person’s neck and back, especially the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae. A herniated disc injury can trigger chronic debilitating pain. A person may even suffer spinal injuries that result in numbness, weakness, and even paralysis.
  • Hand, wrist, and arm injuries – Drivers who are rear-ended can often suffer soft tissue injuries and broken bones in their arms, wrists, and hands when they try to use their hands and arms to brace themselves for the impact.
  • Bone fractures – Rear-end collisions can also cause rib fractures when the seat belt or airbag restrains a person’s torso. Leg and foot fractures can also occur.
  • Facial injuries – Accident victims may suffer lacerations and other facial injuries when their face impacts the steering wheel or other surfaces inside the vehicle or from debris from the car or truck accident, such as shattered windows.
  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injury – The forces imparted on the head and neck in a rear-end collision can cause traumatic brain injuries when inertia causes the brain to slam into the skull. Head and brain injuries can also occur when an accident victim strikes their head on something.
  • Whiplash injuries – A whiplash injury refers to trauma to the neck, shoulders, and upper back caused by the jerking or whipping motion that a person’s body makes when their vehicle is hit from behind. Whiplash injuries cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms, shoulders, and neck, dizziness, headaches, and muscle spasms that can last for weeks, months, or even years.
  • Crush injuries and amputations – A vehicle occupant’s torso or limbs may be crushed if the vehicle is crumpled in a particularly severe collision. Crush injuries may lead to damage that requires toes, fingers, or limbs to be amputated. In violent collisions, an accident victim can even suffer a traumatic amputation.
  • Internal injuries – The force of a rear-end collision can damage internal organs and cause severe internal bleeding that could be fatal if not promptly treated.

What Happens to Your Body in a Rear-End Collision?

The injuries that frequently result from a rear-end collision are caused by the forces and movement that the body experiences during a rear-end accident. A rear-end collision will usually cause your body to jerk forward violently. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be restrained by the tension in your seat belt, or you may continue moving forward to impact the steering wheel, dashboard, front seat, or airbag if one deploys.

While a tensioned seatbelt or airbag will impart less force on your body in a collision than hitting a hard steering wheel or dashboard, this impact can still injure your face, head, and torso. In addition, being quickly thrown forward and then backward will usually cause your head to violently whip, potentially causing soft tissue, nerve, or spinal injuries.

Can Getting Rear-Ended Kill You?

With enough force, a rear-end collision can even lead to fatal injuries. The force of the impact can cause internal organ damage and internal bleeding that can prove fatal. An accident victim’s brain can also sustain life-threatening injuries due to the sudden, violent motion, or if the victim’s head collides with the vehicle’s interior.

The forces of a rear-end collision can even sever the spinal cord. If it occurs high enough, a severed spinal cord injury can affect breathing function, ultimately becoming fatal for an accident victim.

Is It Normal to Feel Hurt After Being Rear-Ended?

Many people who have been rear-ended feel pain and soreness after the accident. Your body will likely experience some level of trauma and injury due to the collision that will cause you to feel pain, soreness, or stiffness.

Some people feel no pain or soreness at all immediately following a rear-end accident. Instead, symptoms of pain and stiffness gradually develop and worsen in the hours, days, and weeks following the accident. In some cases, accident victims may experience a sudden and acute onset of pain.

This delayed onset of pain usually can be attributed to the shock and chaos of the accident causing your body to release endorphins that naturally dull sensations of pain, or can be due to the nature of the injury suffered in the crash. Some injuries do not initially cause any pain but instead, gradually worsen and develop pain and other symptoms over time, especially if not promptly treated.

How Long Will You Be Sore After Being Rear-Ended?

How long pain and other symptoms of injuries will last following a rear-end accident will depend on various factors, including where you were sitting in the vehicle, whether you were wearing a seatbelt, whether the airbags deployed, the speed of the accident, the size of the vehicle that rear-ended you, the nature of the injuries that you sustained in the crash, and whether you had any preexisting conditions that were aggravated by the accident.

If you suffered minor injuries in a rear-end accident, your pain may subside in a few days or a few weeks. More severe injuries will take longer to heal. Certain injuries common to rear-end accidents, such as whiplash injuries, can even cause chronic pain and weakness that are not easily resolved.

Seeking Compensation for Injuries from a Rear-End Accident

If a negligent driver rear-ended you, you could be entitled to compensation including:

  • Costs of medical treatment and physical rehabilitation
  • Lost income from missed time from work during recovery
  • Lost earning capacity due to disabilities interfering with your ability to work
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life from physical scarring or disability
  • Damage to your vehicle that was rear-ended, or other property of yours that was damaged

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end accident, a rear-end accident lawyer in Atlanta at Butler Kahn can review your situation and help you pursue the compensation you need to put your life back together. If you would like to talk with us about your options, feel free to contact us for a claim review at no cost to you.

Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn