According to recent traffic safety statistics, more than 6 million car accidents occur on U.S. roadways each year. Of those, 2.5 million are rear-end car accidents. Although the majority of “rear-enders” are not fatal, they can result in a wide range of injuries – some of which can be debilitating and costly.
Neck and spinal injuries are the most frequent injuries arising from rear end car accidents, but there are many other possible injuries as well. Common injuries in rear end accidents include:
Back / spine injuries – The force of the impact from behind when someone rear-ends your vehicle can cause compression of the spine and damage to the disks in the lower back. One result of this can be a condition called disk herniation, which can be excruciatingly painful and cause both immediate soreness and long-term pain.
Neck / shoulder injuries – About one out of every five people involved in a rear-end vehicle accident suffers what is generally known as “whiplash.” This is a non-medical term describing the stiffness, soreness, and pain experienced in the upper spine, shoulders, and neck when they are violently moved in a sudden manner (known as hyperextension and hyperflexion). Whiplash injuries can remain painful for months or even years, limiting your everyday activities and range of motion.
Head / face injuries – When rear-end car accidents occur at speeds higher than 20 miles per hour, the airbags in both vehicles involved are likely to deploy. While airbags save lives and prevent much more severe injuries, the impact from them can result in burns on the face and scalp. Even more likely, though, is that a rear-end collision occurs at a slower speed, meaning that properly installed airbags will not deploy. In this case, the driver’s face can impact with the steering wheel, breaking facial bones, knocking out teeth, or even causing detached retinas in the eyes – and of course causing more superficial injuries such as lacerations, contusions, and abrasions to the head and face.
Injuries of the hands, wrists, and arms – Both drivers and passengers involved in rear-end collisions can injure their arms and hands when the sudden impact causes them to jerk their arms or throw their hands up, impacting the steering wheel, dashboard, windows, or sun visors. The result can be fractures in the bones of the arm, strains or sprains or even fractures of the wrists, or broken fingers.
Seatbelt-related injuries – Just as airbags can protect passengers but still result in injury, seatbelts and shoulder harnesses can be the cause of painful lacerations, bruises, or even fractures on the chest, shoulder, torso, and hips.
The vast majority of rear end car accidents are the fault of the driver of the vehicle striking the other from behind. Drivers have a legal duty to drive safely and maintain their vehicles in working order to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, many drivers on Florida roadways act negligently: driving recklessly, texting while driving, driving under the influence, or failing to maintain their vehicles, for example. These types of actions are considered a “breach of the duty of care,” and such drivers can be held responsible for victims’ injuries and related costs (damages).
If you or your passengers sustained injuries when your vehicle was rear-ended by another driver, get immediate medical attention and keep organized records of doctor visits and treatments. If you plan to pursue compensation from the driver at fault, you may want to consult with an attorney about your case as soon as possible to know and protect your rights.
If you have questions about a rear-end car accident, our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys are here to help and will gladly answer your questions for free.