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Common Back Injuries Caused by a Car Accident

Home > Blog > Common Back Injuries Caused by a Car Accident

If you or a loved one were recently in a car accident, any of the car’s occupants might be experiencing back pain. The pain may be significant or minor, but either way, it is important for anyone involved in a car accident to seek medical attention immediately. The sooner you are treated, the better your prognosis.

Additionally, if you do not seek the evaluation of a healthcare provider, you might be left to deal with the costs associated with your injuries out of your own pocket. Not all serious injuries, such as back injuries, show signs immediately. Being examined by a physician can document your symptoms or perform any diagnostic tests to identify or rule out serious back injuries.

Car accidents can leave you injured and your property damaged. The auto injury attorneys at HawkLaw P.A. want to help you get the compensation you deserve after your car accident. Call our law office at 888.HAWK.LAW to obtain a free consultation* to learn more about how we can help you or your family members.

What Causes Back Injuries in a Car Accident?

Even if you are involved in a minor car accident, you can still suffer a serious back injury. The human body is not designed for the way your body will jostle after getting hit and, more importantly, what stops your body from being in motion. For instance, coming to an abrupt stop is a common way back for people to sustain back injuries.

What Are Some Common Back Injuries After a Car Accident?

Car accident victims are prone to a number of types of different back injuries. Some of the most common are as follows.

Spine Injury

Injuries to the spine can be very painful and result in ongoing suffering – there are a number of ways the spine can be hurt, many of which severely limit your range of motion.

Thoracic Spine Injury

Thoracic spine injuries tend to be serious. The thoracic spine, located in the upper back, is prone to sprains and fractures, which can lead to permanent damage to the nerves.

Lumbar Spine Injury

As the five largest vertebrae, the lumbar spine, or lower back, provides the human back with stability. Injuries to this area of the back are severely painful. Sprains to the lumbar areas can damage ligaments, while strains are stretching and can also be painful. Movement may be limited, and pain is so severe it is difficult to move or perform routine activities.

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are the most serious type of back injury. When damage to any part of the spinal cord or its nerves occurs, it can lead to permanent damage to sensation and strength, along with preventing a person from doing other body functions below the location of the injury. Paralysis can occur and victims who suffer from spinal cord injuries are also prone to other secondary infections.

Herniated Disc

Discs are responsible for the cushioning between each vertebra in the back and protecting the spine. If a disc is herniated, this indicates it has been displaced and puts pressure on the spinal cord and its nerves. Often highly painful, victims suffering from herniated discs can feel sudden and intense pain in their lower back and/or legs, or numbness.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the back. In a strain situation, this means the tissue has stretched too much, damaging the tendons. A sprain is when the ligaments in the back that connect joints to bones or bones to other bones are damaged. Facet joint injuries are another type of injury similar to arthritis and can be debilitating.

Injuries to soft tissues are notorious for not appearing right away. This is why it is important for you to seek medical treatment, and then contact a personal injury attorney to protect yourself in the event a soft tissue injury emerges over time.


Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra is displaced by a stress fracture. Pain levels can range from weakness to feeling numb, and may even make it difficult to walk due to the compression that occurs when the vertebrae move and push against the spinal canal or nerves.

Other injuries, such as spinal stenosis, bulging disc, muscle spasms, nerve damage, sciatica, compression fractures, cervical spine damage, low back injury, and other car accident injuries can leave you with chronic pain, ongoing medical care, expensive medical bills, and conditions leading to degenerative spinal issues.

What Are the Symptoms of a Back Injury?

When a back injury occurs, there are two different types of injuries individuals can experience: immediate and delayed. This is why it is important for anyone in a car accident to immediately seek medical attention after the auto accident occurs, regardless of pain level.

Immediate Symptoms

Immediate symptoms people often suffer in the aftermath of a car crash include extreme pain, difficulty breathing, an inability to move, headache, or numbness. These symptoms are usually indicators that there is something wrong and should be examined as soon as possible. Don’t delay calling a South Carolina personal injury attorney.

Delayed Symptoms

In car crashes, symptoms signaling a back injury are not always immediately apparent. Days after the crash, a person may begin to experience persistent headaches, belly pain, weakness in lifting heavy objects, or numbness in their extremities.

What Is the Difference Between a Whiplash Injury and a Spinal Injury?

Whiplash injuries and spinal injuries often share some of the same symptoms of acute back pain, but whiplash is different because it is categorized as a neck injury.

Car accident victims who experienced a forceful bend of the neck forward and then backward (or vice versa) are defined as having suffered whiplash. This type of injury often occurs in rear-end collisions. Not well understood, whiplash injuries can affect the neck’s discs, nerves, muscles, and tendons.

Symptoms of a whiplash injury include neck pain, stiffness, shoulder pain, numbness in the arm or hand, tinnitus, lower back pain, dizziness, blurry vision, memory problems, difficulty in concentration, irritability, fatigue, and sleeplessness.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

South Carolina law stipulates that personal injury victims must adhere to the statute of limitations to file an injury claim. In the state of South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the injury to file the claim. In this case, that would be the date of the car accident in which you were injured.

While three years sounds like a long time, it can be difficult to prove a back injury claim. Ideally, you want to seek a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible to get the claim process moving. It is better to file a claim sooner rather than later.

Even if you think you are outside the statute of limitations, you should still consult with a South Carolina personal injury lawyer because there are some exceptions to the three-year rule. An attorney can examine the details of the accident and determine if you are eligible to file.

Can You Get Compensation for Your Back Injury After a Car Accident?

In most cases, as a back injury victim, you are eligible to receive compensation. To receive money to help pay for your medical bills, orthopedic care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and pain management, you will want to file either an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.

In addition to compensation for your medical expenses, you can also be reimbursed to help cover any expenses related to diagnostic tests, such as MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, and any other examinations. If you are unable to work, you may also be eligible to receive money for lost wages and loss of future earnings.

How Hard Is it to Prove a Back Injury After a Car Accident?

Due to the commonality and frequency of back pain, it might be difficult to prove that the back pain you are experiencing is a direct result of a car accident. This is because other daily activities, such as lifting heavy objects, repetitive movements, or even sitting for too long can lead to back problems or muscle imbalances.

The defendant may claim the injury was not due to the accident or that you are exaggerating the pain. An experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about South Carolina law can help you to gather documentation, establish a claim, and present your case.

Working with a lawyer is an important step for you if you plan to seek compensation to cover any damages or losses you have suffered as a direct result of the accident. Back injuries can lead to a long recovery time or even permanent diminishment of quality of life since they can also be permanent.

How Can a Lawyer Help After a South Carolina Car Accident?

Your South Carolina personal injury lawyer can prove to be an invaluable resource after you are involved in a car accident. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with, and it is important to understand that no matter how nice or compassionate they sound, insurance adjusters seldom look out for your best interests. Sometimes they even try to trick you into admitting fault.

A lawyer can serve as a go-between with insurance companies, along with gathering evidence in order to get you the maximum compensation while you focus on your recovery, removing the stresses associated with trying to obtain money to cover your expenses and pay your bills.

Life can be forever changed in a car accident as back injuries can be very difficult to contend with and/or heal. Statistics show auto accidents are the top cause of spinal injuries (31.5%), followed by falls (25.3%), gunshot wounds (10.4%), and motorcycle accidents (6.8%). Automobile accidents can result in lower back pain — sometimes even chronic pain.

The human back is a fragile system of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves. Suffering an injury to any of these components can result in serious pain, weakness, and, in severe cases, permanent disability. A car accident lawyer will be your advocate and work to get you what you need.

Car Accidents Can Be a Pain

Living with the intense pain often associated with back injuries can be very difficult to do. Unfortunately, for people injured in South Carolina motor vehicle accidents, it is not just physical pain. If you suffer from spinal disc injuries or joint injuries, the agony can lead to mental health difficulties, as well. Furthermore, the medical bills associated with a back injury can be unbearable.

HawkLaw is known for its compassionate and personalized approach to handling personal injury cases. If you would like to receive a free consultation*, call 888-HAWKLAW or complete our convenient online contact form to speak with a member of the legal team at HawkLaw.

HawkLaw Fights to Win! Call us now so we can fight for you! Our attorneys promise to stand with you every step of the way.

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

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