Back, Neck And Spinal Cord Injuries Caused By Accidents

By William Bill Hurst

Thousands of automobile collisions occur everyday.  These accidents account for an astonishing number of chronic back, neck, and spinal injuries each year.  Medical researchers have found that between 20% and 40% of automobile collision victims will suffer long term pain and symptoms as a direct result of their accident.  Barnsley, Lord, Bogduk Whiplash Injury Clinical Review, Pain 58, 1994, pp. 283-307.  Spinal injuries, especially in the neck region are common in motor vehicle crashes.  They’re most frequent in rear impact collisions, but can occur in any type of vehicular collision.  Spinal injuries can affect the spinal cord, the nerves (i.e. radiculopathy), the discs (disc herniations), and surrounding ligaments and joint capsules.  Fractures to the spinal bones can occur in auto crashes, and these often take the form of micro fractures and are difficult to diagnosis without special imaging such as CT scans. While surgery sometimes may be required, more often than it is not; and long term instability of the spine can result in accelerated degeneration of the spine.  Info on spine injuries, conditions, arthritis/symptoms see

There are 6 million reported automobile accidents in the United States annual, and over 38,000 of these accidents were fatal and 2.9 million people were injured.  According to the National Safety Council over 2.5 million rear end collisions are reported ever year, making them the most common type of automobile accidents.  These collisions often result in injuries to the spine.  Twenty percent (20%) of the people involved in rear end collisions exhibit symptoms of cervical strain, sometimes called “whiplash” injuries.  There are over 3 million neck injuries in the United States each year, and 1/3 of these victims never fully recover.  The cost of treatment for this has been estimated to run 49 billion annually.  The most common complaints are neck pain but there are a significant amount of complaints including shoulder pain, arm pain and low back pain.  Thirty five percent (35%) of spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile accidents, i.e. the body cause of such injuries.  The majority are males 16-30 years of age.

There have been several studies investigating the mechanism by which the neck and back is injured by rear impact forces.    Some studies involve simulating the rear impact collision to live test subjects and recording the results with high speed motion x-rays.  Such studies found that this physical event and injury can occur at speeds as lows as 2.5 mph.  Panjabi MM, Cholewicki J, Nibu K, Grauer JN, Babat LB, Dvorak J, Bar HF (1998-12-01):“[Biomechanics of whiplash injury].” Orthopade 1998 Dec.; 27 (12):813-9.

Almost 500,000 people living in the United States suffer from the effects of spinal cord injury and there are around 10,000 new cases each year.  35% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile accidents, making car crashes the leading cause of spinal cord injures.  80% of all new cases of spinal cord injuries involve males 16-30 years old.  These spinal cord injuries range from severe (paraplegia) to mild (such as a muscle strain).  Despite the severity a certain percentage of the less severe injuries result in permanent injuries causing the victim to suffer a life time.

The spinal cord is a major bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body and is protected by rings called vertebrae.  Injuries in the upper area of the spine usually affect the chest and legs and result in paraplegia.  An injury in the area of the low back from where the ribs attach and hip bone generally results in some loss of function in the hips and legs.  The affects of a serious spinal cord injury depends on the type of injury and the level of the injury.  Spinal cord injuries are divided into two types of injuries-complete and incomplete.  A complete injury means that there is no function below the level of injury, no sensation, no voluntary movement and both sides of the body are equally affected.  An incomplete injury means that there is some function below the primary level of injury and the person suffering from the incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another and maybe feel parts of the body that cannot be moved.  With advances and acute treatment of spinal cord injuries, incomplete injuries are becoming more common.  Every year there are 10,000 new spinal cord injuries and quadriplegia is slightly more common than paraplegia.  Currently there is no cure for spinal cord injuries.  The choice you make of the rehabilitation center is extremely important.  Not all rehabilitation centers have a spinal cord injury facility.  For a good resource to understand spinal cord injury, find others who are living with spinal cord injury, and inquire about rehabilitation centers see  Also for a good resource for spinal cord injury treatment and current advances in research see

If you‘ve been injured in an accident and wish to consult with an experienced attorney representing thousands of people who have suffered neck, back and spinal cord injuries please contact William “Bill” Hurst for a free consultation. Also visit our Spanish site at

Read More about Chronic Pain Injury

Read More about Whiplash Injury

17 Aug

The Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC is pleased to announce that William W. Hurst has again been named to the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America as a Personal Injury Litigation- Plaintiffs. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Best Lawyers uses a…

17 Aug

The Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC is pleased to announce that Alexander Jesus Limontes has been named to the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America as a Personal Injury Litigation- Plaintiffs. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Best Lawyers uses a transparent…

16 Aug

The Indianapolis Star reports that Indianapolis ranked 39th overall for “best & worst cities to drive in” and 82nd in driver safety among the 100 largest cities in the United States. The study, conducted by WalletHub, compared the cities across four dimensions, which included the cost of ownership and maintenance, traffic and infrastructure, safety, and…

William W. Hurst

Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years.

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  1. Dominick Doler says:

    Thanks for all the information!

  2. I really like your blog ! Well done . It inspires me to improve / upgrade mine. Great time of the year for revisions . Thanks for sharing .