Rear-End Car Accidents: Main Causes of Neck Injuries and Whiplash

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One of the most common types of car collisions is the rear-end car accident. There are many factors why rear-end crashes happen often but most of the time, this is often because of tailgating, speeding, and even distracted driving. More often that not, the driver of the rear car is at fault in rear end car accidents.

While rear-end collisions aren’t as grave or fatal as rollover crashes, there are injuries sustained in such accidents that can affect the victims for the rest their lives. When a rear-end car accident occurs, generally, victims may sustain a whiplash or a range of other neck injuries such as nerve damage, disc damage, and in the worst case scenario, suffer from fractures of the cervical vertebrae.

Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries

So why do rear-end car accidents in particular, generally cause neck injuries or whiplash? Simple – it’s a matter of physics. When a vehicle is struck from the back, it gets pushed forward and the momentum causes the seat to push back against the occupant’s torso and propel it forward. This will cause distortion as the person’s unsupported head would lag behind the torso as the neck bends rear back. This distortion would push the person’s neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion which can cause injury.

Neck Injury and Insurance Compensation

In the U.S. neck injuries (including whiplash) are the most frequently reported injury in car accident insurance claims. In the insurance industry, it accounts for a quarter of all compensation paid for car accident injuries – the cost of claims in neck injuries and whiplash is as much as $8.8 billion.

Effect of a Neck Injury

Many people underestimate the effects of whiplash and neck injuries. As most of the symptoms are minor (i.e. soreness, neck pain and stiffness), they do not report the injury or go to the hospital. But these injuries have the potential to become long-term and disabling so it is important for any person involved in a rear-end car accident collision to seek medical attention even if you think you’re fine. A number of people can suffer chronic neck pain for years because of the damage to their joints, disks, and ligaments. So if you or a loved one suffered a whiplash or neck injury, make sure you get in touch with a car accident attorney to find out if you can recover any expenses or losses you incurred because of it.


In the meantime, here are some tips you may follow to avoid neck injuries or whiplash:

  • Make sure that your vehicle’s headrest is adjusted to your height. Your vehicle’s headrest is actually more than for your comfort – this is actually an essential safety feature as it is a head restraint that can decrease the likelihood of neck injuries. Just make sure that it is positioned at least as high as the head’s center of gravity (around 3.5 inches below the top of the head).
  • Watch your seating position. Studies have shown that drivers are more likely to sustain neck injuries than their passengers because of their tendency to sit forward and away from the seat because they need to hold the wheel and observe traffic around them. It is advisable that when the driver is seated, the distance from the back of his head to the restraint is less than 4 inches in order to minimize neck distortion.
  • Buy or choose vehicles with high ratings of geometric head restraints. Organizations, such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has ratings of good, acceptable, marginal, or poor for all types of vehicles – if you choose a vehicle with good rated geometric restraints, you have a lower rate of neck injury.

For questions or concerns about neck injuries or whiplash in a rear-end crash, you should get in touch with a car accident attorney.