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5 Most Common Injuries from a Rear-End Auto Accident

Posted on May 11, 2012

Rear-end accidents often take victims by surprise, jarring them suddenly as they idle at a stop light or come to a dead stop in traffic. While many rear-end accidents allow the victims to walk away with no injuries at all, there are several common injuries that can be very serious. Here are the five most common injuries sustained in a rear-end car accident.

Soft Tissue

One of the most common auto accident injuries, flexion/extension injuries occur to the soft issue of the spine, caused by extreme jolting of the body. This type of injury takes fairly heavy trauma, as many people endure roller coasters and sudden fall without problem. The body is able to handle normal movements and even movements slightly outside the extreme, but when a car unexpectedly rams into your car, even at low speeds, the sudden snapping of your head forward and back can place unusual pressure on your spine, causing damage.

Symptoms of these injuries include pain between the shoulder blades or neck, headaches, dizziness, and even vision impairment. Because of the adrenaline rushing through your body immediately following your accident, you may not experience symptoms right away. In fact, some victims don’t realize they have this injury for weeks following an accident. Because these injuries can cause very painful symptoms, experts recommend seeking medical help as soon as symptoms begin.


Herniation occurs when the outer fiber surrounding a disk becomes torn, usually due to trauma. A patient can experience a herniated disk in the cervical or thoracic region, but spinal disk herniations usually occur in the lumbar region. In serious cases, a patient may experience severe back pain, numbness, tingling, and, in some cases, paralysis. If the injury is less severe, the patient may experience little to no symptoms. Sometimes symptoms can be misidentified, with some victims feeling pain in legs, feet, or knees and not realizing they are back-related.

Brain Injury

This is a less common type of rear-end auto accident injury, with neck and back injuries far more common. Brain injuries most often happen in front-end and side collisions, where more direct impact usually occurs. If a passenger or driver in the impacted car is not wearing a seatbelt, there is a higher risk of brain injury, especially if the head hits something. While traumatic brain injury may not be as common as spinal injuries in rear-end collision, they can be extremely severe when they do occur, with victims risking permanent damage and even death.

While direct damage to the brain is, of course, the biggest problem for a traumatic brain injury patient, some of the secondary causes are just as dangerous. These causes may appear in the days and weeks following the initial injury, with cerebral swelling putting pressure on the skull that can cause permanent brain damage, strokes, seizures, and possible death.

Broken Bones

Many people think a broken leg or arm is nothing severe. Simply set it in a cast and heal within a specified period of time. However, bone breakages can be extremely severe, especially in the case of rear-end auto accidents. Broken bones can lead to complications such as injuries to organs and incorrectly fused bones, leading to lifelong limb deformity. Even in the case where a bone heals correctly, the patient may continue to experience decreased functionality in that particular limb, sometimes permanently.


With any head trauma, medical personnel will watch for symptoms of a concussion. As with the aforementioned brain injury, a concussion is most often at risk in a rear-end collision if the accident victim’s head struck something, like the dashboard or windshield. A concussion occurs when a person’s brain strikes his or her skull, causing an injury. Concussions are like other auto accident injuries in that they don’t necessarily reveal themselves at the scene of the crash. In fact, physicians will often recommend family members watch head trauma victims for at least the twenty-four hours following an accident.

Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, inability to concentrate, and sensitivity to sounds and light. At first suspicion of a concussion, a patient should seek medical treatment immediately, as serious complications could follow.

If you’ve been in a rear-end auto accident, consider that symptoms can lead to permanent damage if left unchecked. It’s vital to watch for symptoms of head injury or back injury and seek medical attention if you suspect serious damage has occurred.

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