Understanding the Injuries Caused by a Rear End Collision

According to research, there are over 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the US every single year. While a rear-end collision may not seem that traumatic, the effects on the spine could last your entire lifetime. 

Due to careless and distracted driving, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident, and unfortunately, 7% of rear-enders end up being fatal.

If you have recently been in a rear-end collision, you need to know what to do and understand the common injuries that you may be facing. This will help you to figure out what type of help you need, and what legal action you need to take. 

The question is, what are the most common injuries caused by a rear-end collision? The more you understand what happens to your body in a rear-end collision, the sooner you can recover and get back to living your life again, pain-free.

Thankfully, we’ve created this article to help you understand everything you need to know about rear-end collision injuries. Keep on reading to learn more.


Whiplash, otherwise known as neck strain, is the most common injury caused by rear-end collisions. Once the other vehicle hits your vehicle from behind, it causes a strong force that suddenly moves your head forward and back. This sudden movement causes multiple tears and stretches to the muscles and tendons in your neck.

If you were to see a rear-end collision in slow motion,  during impact you will see the second car getting pushed forward, then the body moves forwards, then the head and neck will bounce forward and back multiple times.

According to research, your upper body moves forward before your neck has a chance to keep up. This causes the disks in your thoracic spine to become compressed, while the disks in your cervical spine have not flexed yet. Then your torso moves below your head with a strong force zipping up your spine and propels your head backward into a deformed “C” shape with your upper spine. 

Whiplash can take weeks, sometimes even months to heal, and is usually associated with severe headaches, inability to move the head, and possible brain trauma.

Trauma To the Brain

During whiplash, the force on the head causes the brain to move abnormally in the cranium. This unnatural movement causes either bruising or tissue damage to the brain. 

A concussion is the most common type of brain trauma, which is minimal bruising or swelling of the brain. Unfortunately, concussions can have lasting effects, causing you to miss time at work, and affect your quality of life.

Common concussion symptoms are:

  • Amnesia
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory
  • Drowsiness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizzyness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slurred speech

These concussion symptoms should be monitored closely, as it could be a sign of something much more serious. Even minor symptoms could be a symptom of a severe head injury and could become permanent if not detected in time.

Spinal Injuries

During a rear-end collision, there is a strong pressure that moves up the entire spine. This movement of pressure can cause serious and even permanent damage to your spinal column. This could be due to the whiplash, or another reaction from the collision.

Spinal injuries caused by a rear-end collision include:

  • Ruptured disks
  • Damage to the spinal cord
  • Damage to the vertebrae

Unfortunately, many spinal injuries require surgery, which can take multiple months to heal. Just like a head injury, a back injury is a serious matter and must be attended to immediately.

After surgery, you may need to wear a back brace and have little to no movement for up to a year. This means there will be missed time from work and a loss of quality of life. Additionally, you will need to take strong pain medications that have negative side effects.

Aside from brain damage, damage to the spinal cord is the worst-case scenario from a rear-end collision. Your spinal cord is the main messaging system of the body, that connects the messages from every part of the body to the brain. If damaged, the results could be life-altering.

Damage to the spinal cord results in numbing or tingling in the extremities, or even worse, paralysis and loss of organ function. Many victims of spinal cord injuries no longer can take care of themselves and need to have 24/7 care.  

Other Injuries From a Rear-End Collision

In any collision, there are always chances of multiple injuries as a result of the impact. This could be caused by the accident itself, items in the car during the time of the accident, or the complacency of not wearing a seatbelt.

Depending on the force of the impact, there are chances of being ejected out of the car and through the windshield which could cause multiple lacerations, fractures, and even damage to the brain and spinal cord. The impact could cause a fire, which could result in serious burns. 

Some lacerations could be minor, while others could lead to significant blood loss, nerve damage, or amputation. If your vehicle was hit by a much larger vehicle, the damage to the frame of your car could crush your limbs and cause irreversible damage. 

Unfortunately, there are multiple scenarios of what could happen to your body during a rear-end collision, and it is nearly impossible to guess the outcome. The most important advice you could follow is to immediately go to the hospital and speak to your lawyer. 

The cost of your injuries could put you into serious debt, so the sooner you take legal action, the sooner you can receive a rear-end collision settlement. 

Learn More About Rear-End Collisions  

Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are quite common, and there is no way to fully avoid them. If you have been in a rear-end collision, you need to take action immediately. 

Sweetlaw is located in Washington State, California, and Nevada, and specializes in car accident lawsuits. If you have any questions about taking legal action, feel free to contact us.


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