A car accident of any kind or caliber can cause serious injuries to vehicle occupants, including broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, and internal injuries. A rear-end collision is no exception. A rear-end collision describes a car accident where one vehicle strikes the back end of the vehicle in front of it. The occupants of both vehicles can suffer many different injuries in a rear-end car accident.
Whiplash is the most common injury complained of after a rear-end collision. Whiplash is a type of neck injury that is caused by the head and neck “whipping” rapidly backward and forward from the forces of a crash. Whiplash can cause the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues of the neck to stretch or tear, leading to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and immobility. Even a low-impact rear-end collision could cause a serious neck injury if the impact causes the muscles and ligaments of the neck to extend beyond their normal range of motion.
Not all rear-end collisions are minor fender benders. A high-speed rear-end collision, or one involving a vehicle such as a commercial truck, could be catastrophic in size and severity. A major rear-end collision could propel the vehicle into the car in front of it, resulting in a chain-reaction accident. A severe rear-end collision could also crush the vehicle and the occupants inside of it, causing life-threatening or fatal injuries. Examples of catastrophic injuries include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, amputations and permanent disfigurement.
Back and Spine Injuries
The spinal cord can sustain many different types of injuries in a rear-end collision. If the forces of the accident lead to an impact against the spine, it could result in a spinal concussion or a ruptured or herniated disk. In a serious accident, it may be possible for a seat belt to sever the spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis. Penetrating spinal cord injuries are also possible if the crash results in debris or shrapnel flying through the air.
Concussions and Brain Injuries
If a vehicle occupant strikes his or her head or skull against something during a rear-end accident, such as the steering wheel or windshield, the impact can cause an injury to the brain. Damage to the brain’s cells may be irreparable. The most common type of traumatic brain injury suffered in car accidents is a concussion. Swelling or bleeding in the brain can also arise from blunt force trauma against the skull.
Knee and Leg Injuries
A rear-end collision could send a driver’s body flying forward, where the driver may strike his or her knee or leg against the steering column, dashboard or keys in the ignition. This can lead to broken bones or soft-tissue damage in the knee and lower extremities. Crushed or severed limbs may also be possible if the rear-end collision occurs at a high speed.
A vehicle’s airbag is meant to reduce the severity of injuries involved in a car accident. While it often accomplishes this goal, the force of airbag deployment itself could also cause injuries in a rear-end collision. The force of the airbag going off could break an occupant’s nose or cause other facial injuries, for example. The powder from the airbag can also cause skin and eye irritation.
Like all car accidents, rear-end collisions can take a mental and emotional toll on victims. Many auto accidents result in post-traumatic stress syndrome, for example, with symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks. The emotional effects of a rear-end collision may lead to therapy, additional medical bills, missed school or work, and reduced quality of life. In Nebraska, it is possible to seek financial compensation for emotional injuries as well as physical injuries after a rear-end car accident. Contact a car accident lawyer in Omaha for more information about your case.