Many people consider rear-end accidents to be the least serious type of collision. After all, these crashes usually happen at lower speeds and will affect the rear of your car, instead of getting hit head-on while you’re moving or on the side of the vehicle where there is little protection from the impact. The reality is that a rear-end “fender-bender” can cause much more damage and injuries than you might imagine.
When someone crashes into the back of your car, you likely do not see the accident coming. This means you have no time to brace yourself for the impact, which will send a jolt through your entire vehicle. Your body will likely be thrown forward from the force of the impact, often causing your head to fall forward and then snap back. You can also hit your body on the steering wheel, dash, and other parts of your vehicle.
While an airbag and seat belt can keep you from being ejected and can provide some protection, these cannot prevent the jolt to your body when the car hits. These protections also will not stop your head from moving around violently. For all of these reasons, many rear-end accident victims suffer serious neck and back injuries.
Whiplash and Neck Injuries
Whiplash commonly refers to the variety of neck injuries that can happen in a rear-end crash. When your head goes forward and sharply snaps back, it is much like the cracking of a whip, and it can wreak havoc on the tendons and ligaments in your neck. These soft tissue injuries are often collectively referred to as whiplash.
Historically, people failed to take whiplash injuries from rear-end collisions as seriously as they should. There is the cliched image of a car accident victim wearing a neck brace in court, often trying to exaggerate the extent of their injuries. The truth is that whiplash CAN be extremely serious and can have many lasting effects, such as:
- Pain in the shoulders, neck, arms, or upper back
- Tingling or “pins and needles”
- Limited range of motion
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness or vertigo
Whiplash can keep you from sleeping properly, working, or even doing normal tasks, such as laundry, dishes, or caring for your children. It can also be painful, which can wear on you mentally and physically. Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries in the neck can persist for weeks or months, causing many difficulties in your life.
Common Back Injuries
The back provides support for your entire upper body, including your neck and head. When you sustain a back injury, it can be debilitating for your life, as it can seriously limit your movement abilities. Injuries can happen to many different components of the back, including the muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joints. When a collision causes your upper body to stretch or twist, you can suffer many types of back injuries, such as:
Many of these injuries can be long-lasting with many complications. Back injuries can cause chronic pain and flare-ups, sometimes for the rest of your life. If you have an injured back, you likely cannot lift anything over about 15 pounds or even sit for long periods of time. This can affect your life in many ways, and constant back pain can be mentally difficult, as well.
Getting the Medical Care You Need
After a car accident, you may expect to feel the after-effects of the impact in your body. You may think it is “normal” to be sore, stiff, or disoriented, and you may want to give it a few days to wait for these effects of the collision to wear off. However, in most cases, any pain, soreness, stiffness, limited range of motion, or other unusual sensations are signs that you suffered an injury in the accident.
If you feel anything out of the ordinary after a rear-end collision, you should head to the emergency room, urgent care, or your doctor’s office. Neck and back injuries need specific types of treatment to heal, and you should start that treatment as soon as possible. If you fail to seek medical attention and get your injuries diagnosed as soon as possible, you can experience many types of complications, such as:
- Bone spurs
- Joint degeneration
- Disc degeneration
- Post-traumatic osteoarthritis
- Scar tissue formation
- Chronic pain
- Permanent range of motion issues
To avoid long-term or even lifelong neck or back problems, you should undergo a full medical evaluation after any type of car accident, including a rear-end accident. Getting help right away can result in a prompt diagnosis so you can begin treatment right away. The sooner you start treating your injuries, the sooner they will heal in many cases. This can help you return to work and your usual life quicker than if you neglect your injuries for days or weeks after the accident.
Getting medical as soon as possible can also be highly beneficial if you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You will need to prove the nature of the injuries you sustained and that those injuries resulted from the crash in question. Getting a diagnosis right after the accident can help do so, as well as demonstrate the diagnostic tests performed and the treatment program your doctor recommended.
If you wait even a week to see a medical professional, the at-fault party and their insurance company may question whether your neck or back injury was truly the result of the car accident. For example:
- The rear-end crash happened on April 1st
- You felt some pain in your back but held out and did not see a doctor and continued to work for that week
- You finally went to the doctor on April 7th
- The insurance company claims that something happened at home or work that caused your back injury between April 1st and 7th and refuses to pay for non-accident related injuries
If you went to the emergency room right after your accident, there is no chance that a subsequent event could have occurred to cause your injury. Medical records showing a timely diagnosis are important pieces of evidence to prove your injuries and related losses from the crash.
Losses From Neck and Back Injuries
Because the neck and back are so vital to movement, injuries that cause weakness, pain, or a limited range of motion can affect your life in many ways. Due to your limited abilities during your recovery, you may have to do the following:
- Stay home from work
- Hire childcare help
- Stop activities like exercise or sports
- Have assistance caring for yourself
Back injuries can especially be temporarily disabling, and you may not be able to even stand and walk for a while. You will not be able to engage in any type of physical labor for work until you regain your range of motion. Even if you work in an office or driver for a living, you might not be able to sit at a desk or in a car for hours at a time. Most victims of back and neck injuries have to miss work until their injuries heal.
For your injuries to get better, you will need to follow the treatment orders of your doctor. Of course, the type of treatment you need will depend on the type of injury you have, and they may include:
- Seeing a specialist
- Attending physical therapy
- Medication for pain relief
- Using medical devices like a back brace
- Rest and immobilization
Whether your injuries require serious surgical procedures or a course of physical therapy, your treatment will still result in piles of medical bills and expenses. These can add up, even for relatively minor back or neck injuries. You may naturally wonder how you are going to cover all of these unexpected bills.
To make matters worse, missing work due to an injury can result in lost income. Many people must take unpaid leave from their job, which can affect your entire household budget. You might not be able to keep up with your regular bills – not to mention your medical bills. Financial issues can snowball quickly after a car crash and injuries, and this is in addition to the pain you experience from your neck or back injury.
The good news is that if someone else caused your accident, you have the right to seek payment for your many losses from them. Our car accident law firm regularly helps clients seek compensation for extensive losses after a crash, including:
- Medical expenses for past and future treatment
- Lost income and future lost earnings
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
- Permanent impairments or injuries
To know your rights to compensation and the possible value of your claim, contact our office directly for a free case evaluation.
Liability for Rear-End Collisions
People can be liable for your rear-end accident and losses for many reasons. In order to hold someone liable, you must demonstrate that they were negligent and caused your injuries. Negligence happens when someone breaches a duty of care (such as the duty to drive safely) and causes injuries. When a driver makes an error and crashes into the back of your car, they should be responsible for your losses.
Common negligent acts that lead to rear-end crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Improper lane changes or passing
It is generally presumed that the rear driver is to blame for a rear-end crash unless proven otherwise. Even if the front driver slams on the brakes, the rear driver should be following at a safe enough distance that they can stop to avoid a collision. If they cannot prevent the crash, they were likely following too closely.
Drivers are not the only parties that may be responsible for a rear-end collision. For example, if the rear driver tries to slow down but the brakes malfunction, they will likely crash. If the brakes were defective in some way, the brake manufacturer should be liable for the accident and related losses. Similarly, a driver may hit a large pothole or obstacle in the road and lose control, causing them to slam into the back of another car. In this situation, a road crew that should have fixed the pothole or the party that left something in the roadway should be held responsible.
Additionally, if a driver caused your accident while they were driving on the job, their employer may also be strictly liable for your losses. This is because the law generally holds companies responsible for the harm that occurs due to the negligence of employees.
Once we identify the liable parties, we can file the right insurance claims, negotiate a settlement that covers your losses, or even file a personal injury claim in civil court if necessary. Let a car accident lawyer handle every step of this process for you so that you can focus on your medical treatment and the recovery from your neck or back injuries.
Contact an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Injuries
Never assume that a rear-end collisions did not cause serious injuries. If you feel stiff or sore in your neck or back, it could be a sign that something is really wrong. Always seek the medical attention you need for a diagnosis and follow all treatment prescriptions. You should also not hesitate to contact a skilled car accident lawyer to learn whether you can seek financial recovery for your bills and losses from liable parties.
Often, a back or neck injury can be surprisingly costly. The sooner you know your rights, the sooner you can begin asserting those rights through an insurance claim. Let a trusted accident and injury lawyer in Indianapolis handle every step of this process for you. At the Law Office of William W. Hurst, we know how consuming a back or neck injury can be due to the pain and limitations you experience. Let us take on your legal case for you. Call (317) 636-0808 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.