Common Back Injuries Caused by a Car Accident

Written by John D. Hawkins on . Posted in .

In an instant, a life can be forever changed in a car accident. One serious injury accident victims suffer is back injuries, and unfortunately, it’s very common for them to find they’ve sustained one after a motor vehicle accident occurs. 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.

If you or someone you love is involved in a crash, it’s important to speak with experienced car accident lawyers as soon as possible after the accident. Not all back injuries are immediately apparent, and their seriousness may surface over days, weeks, or even months after the collision occurred. If you suffer any type of back injury after a car crash, you should consider filing a personal injury claim to safeguard your future. Connecting with a knowledgeable attorney right away will help protect your rights to compensation for your injuries and medical expenses. Contact a car accident injury attorney from HawkLaw for a consultation.

What Causes Back Injuries?

When a car comes into contact with another vehicle and one or both of the cars is moving, the impact on your body can be significant due to the forces at work between the vehicles. After the car experiences an impact with another vehicle, the bodies of the driver or any passengers in the car will move until something stops it. That something might be a seatbelt, airbag, windshield, front seat, steering wheel, or, in worse case scenarios, the pavement or ground. This violent motion that occurs can significantly harm a person’s back, neck, or spinal cord.

Serious injuries can happen even if the movement of one or both cars is not very fast. For instance, the impact of a crash might cause your body to twist or turn in an unnatural way, which stretches muscles or tendons beyond their capacities. Here are common injuries many car accident victims face after being in both minor or severe motor vehicle accidents.


Whiplash is a common upper back and neck injury that frequently accompanies car accidents, especially after a rear-end collision. A whiplash injury occurs when the neck experiences a “forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck,” likened to the cracking of a whip. Car accident victims who have whiplash often experience chronic pain and suffer long-lasting effects.

Symptoms of whiplash aren’t usually felt the day of the injury but rather emerge in subsequent days. Common symptoms you might feel include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, loss of range of motion, shoulder pain, shoulder tenderness, arm numbness or tingling, dizziness, and fatigue. Some people will feel better after a few weeks, but unfortunately, more severe cases can last months or even years after the injury.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are serious and are the result of severe trauma to the backbone. Often referred to as a “broken neck” or a “broken back,” spinal cord injuries also include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and damage to the nerve roots. These and other spinal cord injuries can result in tetraplegia (formerly referred to as quadriplegia), and paraplegia.

Depending upon the severity of the spinal cord injury, the victim might experience a complete loss of sensory functions and the ability to control bodily movement. Alternatively, they might retain some sensory or motor functions, but still experience significant losses of both, causing different levels of paralysis. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, the location of the broken or crushed vertebrae will typically determine the extent of the loss of feeling or motor ability.

Herniated Discs

A herniated disc is an injury in the back where one of the supportive discs located between individual backbones slips out of alignment, ruptures, or cracks. Sometimes referred to as a slipped, bulging, or ruptured disc, a herniated disc injury is often associated with nerve damage, either to the lumbar or cervical areas of the spine, but can also occur in any part of the spine. Some people experience no complications, but others with a herniated disc injury suffer from sciatica and lumbar spine damage.

Symptoms commonly associated with herniated discs include pain in the arms, legs, feet, and buttocks. If you’ve sustained a herniated disc injury, other issues you might suffer include numbness, tingling, and weakness that originates in the affected nerves. These symptoms can disrupt daily activities, such as lifting items, washing dishes, or walking up a couple of stairs.

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.

Fractures and Broken Bones

Car accident victims often experience breaks, minor fractures, or major fractures, all of which can lead to debilitating conditions. The back consists of 33 bones that protect the spinal cord, and if any of them are damaged, it can lead to intense pain and suffering.

Different types of fractures include burst, flexion, fraction-dislocation, and compression. A compression fracture can be serious because it creates excessive pressure or stress on the spine. However, with any fracture, small cracks can form in the bone, or severe fractures may damage surrounding nerves. Some people develop a condition called spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs if the vertebra is displaced by a stress fracture and compresses the spinal canal or nerves. If you suffer from spondylolisthesis, you’ll most likely experience pain, numbness, and weakness, and you might find it difficult to walk.

Broken bones are a frequent result of car accidents, and even simple breaks in the back can lead to long-term pain, suffering, or an inability to do everyday things. Other broken bone complications, such as legs, arms, ribs, ankles, and wrists, can compound back pain and make the healing process even more stressful or difficult.

Seeking Medical Care

If you are in a car accident, it’s important to promptly seek medical treatment. Don’t delay. Even if you didn’t go to the emergency room in the timeframe after the accident, make an appointment right away with your doctor. This way, your provider can examine you, run tests, and clear which activities are safe for you to participate in.

Back injury car accident wounds and spine injuries should always be taken very seriously. You don’t want to accidentally worsen a condition you don’t know you received in the car crash since your symptoms might not be immediately apparent. Your hospital or healthcare provider will most likely order testing, and these diagnostic procedures may include X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to detect any potentially hidden injuries and give the doctors a better idea of how to begin treatment.

Any back injury can impact your ability to partake in daily activities and have a healthy range of motion. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the more proactive your doctors can be with treatment. Treatment options may include physical therapy, pain medications, chiropractic care, and anti-inflammatory medications. Left untreated, back injuries can worsen over time or cause additional degenerative back problems. This is why it’s important to be seen by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Another primary reason is that everything is fully documented in the unfortunate event your back pain or injury worsens.

Pursuing Legal Help

In 2019, there was a traffic collision every 3.7 minutes in South Carolina, and, of these collisions, statistics show an injury occurring every 13.6 minutes. Sadly, many of those hurt in these accidents will struggle with chronic pain or permanent back problems which impact the victims’ quality of life. Living with the intense pain often associated with back injuries can be very difficult to do. Unfortunately, for people injured in motor vehicle accidents, it’s not just physical pain. If you suffer from spinal disc injuries or joint injuries, the medical bills can be unbearable.

A personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages from an auto accident to help you pay for these expenses, ongoing treatments you need, or lost wages from any time you missed work. Or, if you’re unable to return to work, filing a personal injury claim can help provide money to pay your living expenses to compensate for your lost salary.

Does South Carolina Have a Statute of Limitations?

Under State of South Carolina law, the state imposes a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in most circumstances. Although there are some exceptions, it’s best not to delay contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after any motor vehicle accident, even if it seems minor, or you don’t feel hurt or any pain. This way, your counsel can take the important steps necessary to document events if a neck or back injury occurred and was initially undetected.

Ideally, you want to file a claim sooner rather than later. However, even if you think it’s too late to file, you should still contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney. Depending on a variety of circumstances, there may be exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations rule. Your attorney will carefully examine the details of your situation and determine if you might still be eligible to file.

Call For a Consultation With a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer

HawkLaw is known for its compassionate and personalized approach to handling personal injury cases. If you suspect you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of another party, call our South Carolina car accident lawyers today for a consultation.

HawkLaw Fights to Win! Call us now so we can fight for you! You can conveniently reach us through our contact page or by calling us at 1-888-HAWK-LAW (429-5529). Our dedicated legal team of personal injury attorneys is available now to help you learn more about your right to fair compensation for your back injuries.

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Written By John D. Hawkins

John David Hawkins is the Founder and Owner of HawkLaw. He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Focusing on litigation, Mr. Hawkins is experienced handling Worker’s Compensation, Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, Administrative Law, and Criminal Law matters.

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