November 27, 2022

What You Should Know About Car Accident Spine Injuries

Spinal Cord Injury Traffic Collision Accident is severe and perhaps fatal. Trauma to the cervical spine, lumbar spine or thoracic spine can injure or sever the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis from the neck to the waistline. Car accidents are responsible for over 40% of these fatalities.

The treatment included in a spinal injury can also have significant ramifications for a lawsuit, including a life care plan and future damages based on life-altering repercussions that can come years, if not lifetime, after the underlying shock to the spine.

Not saying automobiles are dangerous paralysing monsters, but the chance of an accident is minimal, and the risk of a significant spine injury is even less, and it’s not insignificant. 

Here’s what you should know if you’re ever in a traffic collision: what physical damages you could receive, how to have them addressed, how to recover, and what insurance and legal concerns you should be aware of.

What Are Some of the Most Common Spine Damage Inflicted by a Motor Vehicle Accident?

A traffic accident spine injury affects the cervical, lumbar, or thoracic spine. If it damages, interferes with, or severs the spinal cord – which contains the nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body and are protected by the spine – the injury might result in paralysis.

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Permanent damage to the spinal cord and nerves results in the loss of the capacity to regulate movement or sense sensation and disruption of other bodily functions below the lesion site.

A “complete” paralysis injury is one in which all or almost all sensory and motor function is lost. If some sensory or motor capability is retained, the paralysis is referred to be “incomplete.”

The afflicted vertebrae are usually used to identify these ailments. This will generally correlate to the part of the body that has lost function or feeling, while the indirect effects of this injury might impact systems and organs across the body.

Fractures of the vertebrae

Like other bones in the human body, Vertebrae are prone to fractures of varying severity that can occur anywhere on the spine. Though many are minor and may recover with limited interaction over time, significant spine injuries can result in catastrophic illnesses such as:

  • Burst fractures, in which numerous vertebrae shatter and bone shards injure the spinal cord, can result in paralysis and even death.
  • The flexion/distraction fracture, which occurs when the upper portion of the body is pushed forward while the lower section is held in place (usually by a seatbelt), breaks the vertebrae apart (distraction)
  • Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) are fractures in which the front of the vertebra collapses while the back remains in its original position, resulting in a wedge shape. While VCFs are more commonly associated with osteoporosis, they can also occur in people with normal bone mass as a result of a high-energy event such as a car accident.
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Spinal fractures can produce mild to intense pain that worsens with movement. Victims may also suffer tingling, numbness, or stiffness in their limbs, as well as loss of bladder/bowel function, if the spinal cord is affected.

Except in the most severe MVA’s, spinal injuries are rare due to increasing safety technology in automobiles.

Disc Herniation

The discs in the spine operate as shock absorbers and cushion the vertebrae. They have a robust crust and a mushy, jelly-like core. When the soft interior of a disc seeps through a fissure in the outer, it puts pressure on the surrounding neurons and nerve roots, resulting in a herniated disc (also known as a bulging disc).

This might happen spontaneously as a result of becoming older or working in jobs that require a lot of repeated pressing, pulling, bending, or twisting. Herniated discs are also prevalent after a spinal trauma, such as a car accident.

Depending on where the rupture occurs, symptoms of a herniated disc might involve:

  • Near the damaged nerves, muscle weakness occurs.
  • Sharp, searing pain radiating from the shoulders or low back to the arms or legs.
  • tingling or numbness sensation in the arms or legs
  • Patients may not have any symptoms and are unaware of the herniation until they are evaluated for another problem. Those who are experiencing symptoms, particularly after a motor vehicle accident, should seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Whiplash, also known as whiplash-associated disorder, or WAD, is among the most common injuries that occur after a rear ended MVA. A neck (cervical spine) damage happens when the neck jerks back and forth in a quick action, similar to the cracking of a whip, causing damage to the tissues in the neck.

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Whiplash symptoms often appear within a few days of the event and might include:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling disoriented and/or exhausted
  • Being upset for no apparent reason.
  • Headaches that usually begin near the base of the skull
  • Neck mobility loss or restriction
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the arms
  • Tenderness or pain in the upper back, shoulders, or even the arms
  • Concentration or memory issues
  • Ringing in ears
  • Neck stiffness and discomfort

What Is the Recovery Process for a Spine Injury After an MVA Like?

Each case, accident, and trauma is unique, and prognosis is eventually determined by a number of aspects, including age, health, and the severity of the event. Whiplash, for instance, is a disease that people may fully recover from—just it’s a matter of how long it takes. More severe injuries, such as a ruptured fracture, may take a long time to heal or may necessitate surgery to alleviate the symptoms.

Can I sue for a vehicle accident-related spine injury?

Yes. If you acquire a spine injury as a result of an automobile accident, you may have two separate lawsuits.

If your car insurance company refuses to pay for or discontinues benefits related to a car accident spine injury, you can sue for underpaid, past-due medical fees, attendant support, medical mileage, replacement services, and lost wages because your injuries have prevented you from working.

You can also file a case against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, future pay loss and economic expenditures, and future medical treatment as a result of your vehicle accident-related injuries.