Car accidents are the most common cause of serious injuries in the United States, including back injuries. Though car accidents can cause injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, internal damage, and limb fractures, back injuries are one of the most common outcomes of a crash. In some cases, a severe back injury may also cause spinal cord damage—a catastrophic injury with life-altering consequences. Understanding what to do if you experience back pain after a crash, either immediately or in the days and weeks following your accident can be very important to safeguard your physical and financial future.
What Types of Accidents Cause Back Injuries?
Back injuries can occur in many different ways during a car accident. Whether from blunt-force trauma from impact in a collision or from the rapid back-and-forth movement of the head, neck, and upper thoracic region during a sudden jarring motion. Some common types of car accidents associated with back injuries include:
Rear-end collisions: commonly causing whiplash, torn ligaments, and spinal cord damage as the torso slides up and forward and then snaps back from the seat belt restraint
T-bone (side-impact) accidents: commonly causing many types of back injuries as the seat belt holds the lower body in place and the head, neck, and upper torso twist sideways
Front-impact collisions: commonly causing torn or herniated disks in the neck and upper thoracic region as the head and neck are thrust forward on impact
Many factors in an accident affect the severity of a back injury including the speed on impact and the direction of the crash. Some back injuries may occur even in minor fender benders as the muscles in the body stiffen up during and after a strong, unexpected jolt.
Protecting Yourself After a Car Accident Leaves You With Back Pain
After a serious car accident, you may be able to do little except wait for help to arrive. If you experience back pain immediately after a crash, use your phone to call 911 to report the accident If you are in a safe position in the car to wait for help and bystanders or an uninjured passenger can use your phone, ask them to take photos of the accident scene and vehicles while you remain in place to avoid causing further injury. Collect the contact information of all involved drivers and eyewitnesses. Paramedics will secure your back and neck while they transport you. After you arrive at the hospital:
Tell the doctor about your back pain and any other injuries
Ask for a complete evaluation from a back, neck, and spinal cord specialist
Have your doctors make a detailed medical report with information about your injuries, treatment recommendations, and prognosis
Follow all of your doctor’s recommendations for treatment
Obtain a copy of the accident report from your local police
Keep all of your medical records and bills
Call a car accident attorney with experience in back injuries to maximize your chances of recovering compensation for your damages.
What if Back Pain Occurs Days or Weeks After a Car Accident?
It’s always important to seek medical treatment immediately after a car accident and ask for a full evaluation. In some cases, a doctor may discover your back injury before you feel the pain since the adrenaline rush after a traumatic accident may mask symptoms. If you develop pain after a car accident, undergo a full examination by a specialist as soon as possible, and be sure to describe the details of the car accident you’ve recently suffered. It’s also important to:
Follow your doctor’s orders about applying heat and/or ice
Take time off from work while you rest and heal
Fill any prescriptions the doctor recommends for pain, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatory treatments and carefully follow directions
Undergo any doctor-recommended physical therapy to maximize your recovery.
Back injuries can be extremely painful and debilitating, either temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the injury and whether or not the back injury caused spinal cord damage. It’s important for your physical and financial health to seek treatment if you experience back pain after a car crash. Carefully document your injury to seek financial damages to cover medical expenses and time away from work while you recover.