Rear-end collisions occur when a car crashes into the one in front of it, usually because it was following too-closely behind, or because of an emergency panic stop. While car bumpers are designed to withstand and absorb such impacts, the human body is not. The visible damage to the car might not appear serious, but the damage to the individuals involved may be.
The most common resulting injury is whiplash, the medical term for which is Cervical Acceleration Deceleration Trauma, or CAD. Because the body is restrained by the seatbelt but the head and neck are free, the head and neck are abruptly jerked backwards and then forwards. When the ligaments and muscles of the neck are pushed so far beyond their normal range of motion, the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerves can become damaged.
The resulting injuries can range from mild to severe, but oftentimes do not appear until 24 hours or more have passed. Symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in shoulders, upper back, or lower back
- Pain or numbness in the arms or hands
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Cognitive and psychological disturbances such as difficulty concentrating, remembering, sleep disturbances or daily fatigue
The severity of the injuries often depends on the size and type of the cars involved. Smaller cars that have been rear-ended by larger cars or trucks tend to suffer the most damage and the passengers the most injuries. Passengers riding in the back of minivans or sports utility vehicles often suffer serious injuries. Even features such as airbags that are designed to keep you safe can cause injuries to the head and neck. Special imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs may be required to diagnose whiplash, as injuries do not typically show up on X-rays. These injuries include stretches or tears to the muscles (strains) or to the ligaments (sprains).
It is critical that you not delay treatment, as scar tissue formation begins within days of such injuries, resulting in more serious injuries and treatments. In almost all cases, the individual that rear-ends is considered to be responsible for the accident. Contact one of our attorneys to get the information that you need and to ensure that you are treated fully and receive compensation for all your injuries. You do not want to agree to a settlement with the insurance companies, only to later realize the full-extent of your injuries are much more severe than you had initially thought.