Common Causes of Back and Neck Pain After a Car Accident

May 9, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Common Causes of Back and Neck Pain After a Car Accident

What is causing your neck and lower back pain after a car accident?

How long does back pain last after a collision?

I have intense back pain after a car accident. What can I do?

When do I need a personal injury lawyer to help with my auto accident back pain?

While the majority of drivers on Florida roads are focused and attentive, many can be reckless and negligent. This recklessness can lead to car accidents with severe consequences, often including back and neck injuries.

After a car accident, back and neck pain can be a sign of potentially severe injuries that can affect your daily life and the foreseeable future. Car collision injury damages, such as medical bills, lost work, and pain and suffering, can add substantial financial pressure while you try to recover from your injuries. If your injuries were caused by a negligent driver, you could pursue compensation for legal damages to help cover your financial losses. A skilled auto accident lawyer can help you file a car accident claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.

Unfortunately, suffering neck or back pain after a car accident is fairly common. However, it does not have to de-rail your entire life. If you are suffering auto accident back pain after a wreck caused by another person's negligence, you should seek the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer to understand your legal options and protect your legal rights.

What Causes Neck and Back Injuries During Car Accidents?

Vehicle crashes and the force that goes along with them can severely damage the neck and back. These accidents are the leading cause of neck injuries that result in long-term suffering and significant socio-economic costs to the victims and their families. More than 800,000 cases of vehicle crashes involving neck injuries are reported in the U.S. annually, and the reported cost of spine-related pain treatment is nearly $134.5 billion.

Since each auto accident is unique, potential car accident back and neck injury settlements will vary tremendously. One of the first steps in any collision claim is to determine how the injuries occurred. Here are some of the ways a car accident can result in long-term neck and lower back pain:

  • Whiplash: A car accident impact can result in your body violently snapping back and forth, also referred to as whiplash. This motion can apply severe trauma to the neck and back, leading to long-term neck and back pain.
  • Disc Injuries: The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned and protected by discs. Discs are small, round formations of cartilage that hold the vertebrae together and serve as shock absorbers for the spine. Trauma to the back from a car accident can result in a herniated disc that can cause back pain and potentially injure the spinal cord.
  • Facet Joint Injuries: The spine's vertebral bones are connected by a pair of facet joints, which are located at the back of each spinal segment. Facet joints in the lower back have to bear immense weight and pressure, which can leave them vulnerable to injury from car accident impact. A facet joint injury can lead to chronic pain in the back.
  • Cervical Spine Injuries: The cervical spine is the part of the spine in the neck. It contains seven stacked bones, and trauma to any of them can lead to a cervical spine injury. This severe spinal injury can result in intense neck and back pain and lead to a total or partial loss of sensory function.

Whiplash is the Most Common Cause of Auto Accident Back Pain and Neck Trauma

When a car hits something, or something hits a car, the force causes everything in the car, including a human body, to move in that direction – and there is only so much room to move. Eventually, the seat belt, car door, dashboard, or some other object will stop the person's forward momentum. These forces often generate enormous pressure on the neck and back.

This jerking motion is rapid, like a whip, which is why these neck injuries are often referred to as whiplash. Whiplash can cause several different injuries to the spine, including soft tissue injuries and more severe damage to the spinal cord itself. It is very common to feel lower back and neck pain after a car accident, but not all whiplash injuries are the same.

What if I Have Upper and Middle Back Pain After a Car Accident?

The thoracic spine (located directly under the cervical spine of the neck and known as the T1-T12 area) is found in your upper and mid-back and consists of twelve vertebrae. The thoracic spine is far more rigid and better supported than the lumbar spine, so thoracic spinal injuries are less common.

Did you know that whiplash can cause upper and mid-back pain and is not limited to the neck? These injuries can be treated with surgical fusions and laminectomies. However, surgery is usually only attempted after all less invasive measures, like conservative care, pain management, and injection therapy, have failed.

Your Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident May Be Caused by Disc Injuries

Discogenic pain refers to pain associated with the spinal discs. These round pieces of cartilage protect the bones that make up the spin by cushioning the bones from impact. They also allow for movement and stability, so when one or more spinal discs are damaged, the pain can be intense.

Discogenic pain can occur as the spinal discs gradually deteriorate over time, or this pain may be caused by sudden acute trauma, such as in a car crash. Most people experience this type of back pain in the lumbar (lower) spine area.

The following are the most common car accident injuries that result in lower back pain:

  • Lumbar strains and sprains - when trauma causes the back ligaments, muscles, and tendons to stretch too far.
  • Spinal stenosis—the medical term "stenosis" means an abnormal narrowing of a body channel. In the spine, if the area around the spinal cord is narrowed after an auto crash trauma, a ruptured disc or bone fragment can invade the spinal canal space, applying pressure to the nerves or cord and causing pain.
  • Disc herniation - occurs when the cushioning discs that separate each vertebra are damaged and bulge through the outer casing of the spinal column. When the protrusion contacts nearby nerves, it can cause intense back pain.
  • Degenerative spinal disorder - encompasses many different injuries and symptoms that all relate to the breaking down of the spine or its parts as the body ages. A traumatic collision can exacerbate a pre-existing degenerative disorder, causing or worsening extreme pain.

Discogenic pain can be felt while a person is sitting or lying perfectly still or when activity irritates the affected area. This pain is often described as shooting and sharp. It can be localized to the damaged disc area, or it may radiate to one or both legs, the buttocks, the groin, or the feet.

This radiation is known as sciatica, and it can be extremely uncomfortable. Typically, bending over, sitting, or standing can exasperate the pain. Some people find relief by lying flat or in a cradled position, while others find pain relief by walking or moving around.

Common Treatments for Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident

After you receive a diagnosis, your doctor will determine the best path forward for your recovery. Your treatment will depend on the severity of your injury, and the treatment costs could vary tremendously. These costs should be included in any car accident claim or lawsuit brought against the party responsible for your crash.

Here are some of the most common treatments for back and neck pain after a car accident:

Physical Therapy to Heal Back Pain Caused by a Spinal Disc Injury

Physical therapists help back pain sufferers by moving and manipulating their spine. Patients may be given exercises to do at home to lessen the pain and restore movement. Physical therapy for neck and back pain can often completely resolve the patient's pain and restore a considerable range of motion. Each therapy session can cost $75 to $150, so the more sessions you require, the greater the overall cost you'll incur.

Medication for Back Pain Following a Car Accident

Anti-inflammatory medications are usually another early way to treat back pain after a car accident. Other drugs can also help, including:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-epileptics

Non-Surgical Options for Spinal Injuries

Some non-surgical treatments have proven successful in providing long-lasting relief and can be helpful in resolving disc pain. These can include:

While not as expensive as full surgical procedures, these treatments can run between $600 and $1,500 per injection or procedure. Of course, if these treatments don't provide sufficient relief, surgery may be the only option left.

Spinal Surgery Options for Back Pain After a Car Accident

Surgery may be the best alternative if you're in debilitating pain for three months or more. One type of minimally invasive spine surgery is intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET). However, the most common surgery for severe back pain is spinal fusion. The average cost for IDET is usually eight times less than the overall cost for a spinal fusion. Spinal fusions can cost between $80,000 and $110,000.

Neck & Lower Back Pain after a Car Accident

Cervical Spine Injuries and Neck Pain After a Car Accident

The cervical spine is the top portion of the spine, made up of eight vertebrae from C1 to C8. Trauma from a car accident can damage the vertebrae in the neck, lead to a cervical spine injury, and result in severe neck pain.

The severity of a cervical spine injury depends on what vertebrae were affected by the trauma. These spinal injuries fall into two categories:

  • High-cervical injuries: The high-cervical vertebrae include C1 through C4, starting at the base of the skull. Due to their proximity to the skull and the brain, when these vertebrae are injured, the person can suffer catastrophic effects, including loss of motor skills, paralysis, or an inability to breathe. Trauma affecting these vertebrae is rare, but any damage can result in life-altering neck and back pain.
  • Low-cervical injuries: The vertebrae from C5 to C8 comprise the low-cervical vertebrae. In addition to causing neck and back pain, damage to these vertebrae can result in a lack of bladder control, an inability to raise arms or bend elbows, and paralysis of the hands and wrists. Unlike high-cervical injuries, someone suffering from a low-cervical injury has a greater chance of retaining sensory functions.

Typical Care for Cervical Spine Injuries

An accident victim facing a cervical spine injury will generally follow similar treatment options as described above for lower back pain concerns. Initial procedures may include epidural steroid injections of the cervical spine to provide temporary relief and avoid invasive spine surgery.

The costs for these medical treatments can vary tremendously. Typical steroid injections may cost $600 to $1,500 per treatment, while a cervical fusion can range from $24,000 to $33,000, depending on your state. Again, if someone else's negligent or careless actions caused the crash that led to your neck or back injuries, you can request compensation from the responsible person to cover these related medical expenses. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer near you can help.

What Damages Can You Pursue For Auto Accident Back Pain?

Back and neck injuries can inflict much more than just physical pain. These injuries have the potential to cause damages that can affect not just your financial stability but also your quality of life.

Legal damages are typically split into two major categories:

  • Economic damages: These are damages related to financial losses. Economic damages are tangible, out-of-pocket costs and lost income related to the car accident. This category includes medical expenses, lost wages, or the value of property damage.
  • Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering damages, encompass the non-tangible damages associated with the car accident. These losses refer to how your life changes following the accident and how you suffered other than strictly financially. Some non-economic damages you can receive compensation for include loss of enjoyment of life, psychological injuries, and loss of consortium.

You can pursue both economic and non-economic damages associated with your back and neck pain. For example, the medical bills associated with your treatment are considered economic damages, while the physical pain and mental anguish you endure due to back and neck injuries are considered non-economic damages.

The following are some common examples of damages you can pursue in a car accident claim:

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters Regarding Auto Accident Back Pain

If you suffer from neck and back pain following a car accident, you can pursue compensation from the at-fault party if they behaved negligently behind the wheel. You may start by filing a car accident claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.

The insurance company will not just hand you money to cover your damages. An insurance adjuster will investigate the situation to determine if they need to pay any compensation. Their job is to find ways to limit the potential settlement the insurance company has to pay.

Insurance companies look for evidence to reduce their insured's liability. They will look into any pre-existing medical conditions, search for any negligence on your part, and try to get you to admit liability for the accident.

Insurance Adjusters Tyr to Minimize Whiplash Injury Claims

Whiplash accident cases are some of the most difficult to settle because insurance adjusters and their experts typically label whiplash as a simple sprain or strain injury. However,  non-surgical whiplash is often worse than a typical disc injury that requires surgery.

Insurance carriers challenge these cases with the goal of minimizing the value of each claim. Unfortunately, many lawyers fail to spend the time, effort, and money necessary to hire the best experts and aggressively pursue whiplash claims for their clients.

As a Florida whiplash injury law firm, Dolman Law Group has handled thousands of whiplash claims over the past decades. We take these cases very seriously because we understand how these injuries impact our clients. We aggressively pursue every last case, which sets us apart from the settlement mills that concern themselves more with settling a high volume of cases than litigating those cases to a satisfying conclusion that recovers maximum compensation for their clients.

Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer For an Auto Accident Back Pain Case?

Some people mistakenly see personal injury lawyers as an expensive tool that is not necessary for their back or neck injury cases. To avoid paying legal fees, some accident victims will attempt to handle their own personal injury claims. More often than not, this is a huge mistake. An attorney can help car accident victims pursue the maximum compensation for damages resulting from the long-term effects they can suffer after a car accident.

Even though insurance companies may act like they are on your side, they do not have your best interest at heart. Their interest is in keeping money out of your hands and in their pockets – that's how they stay profitable. When you try to handle a car accident case on your own, you are at an immense disadvantage.

The insurance company has a team of experienced, equipped, and educated professionals who may take advantage of an injured person who does not have their own legal representation. Handling an auto accident claim on your own can lead to mistakes that end up costing you the best potential settlement or the chance at receiving any compensation at all.

When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, you level the playing field with the resources to fight the insurance company. If you are wondering when to hire a car accident lawyer, sooner is always better than later. Getting legal assistance early prevents costly mistakes and gives your lawyer more time to build an effective case and maximize your potential compensation. Plus, when you take advantage of a free consultation, it won't cost you a dime to learn more.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Car Accident Claim.

Matthew A. Dolman, Attorney
Matthew Dolman, Car Accident Lawyer

At Dolman Law Group, our back, neck, and spinal cord injury lawyers have the skills and experience you deserve during this difficult time. We work with a team of medical and financial experts who can illustrate how your injuries will impact your quality of life, and justify the costs you may incur for future medical treatment and necessary home alterations.

These types of injury cases are, by nature, very expensive and we have the necessary financial resources to handle the case properly. It is vital that the car accident lawyer you work with is well-versed in handling neck and back pain cases and has the resources necessary to help you pursue compensation. That's where we come in.

At Dolman Law Group, our personal injury lawyers have over 120 years of combined experience in assisting victims with back and neck pain after a car accident. We work tirelessly for our auto accident victims to ensure they receive the proper medical attention for their injuries, as well as the proper compensation to offset the losses caused by a negligent party.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how our experienced car accident lawyers can help you pursue compensation. Call us at 833-55-CRASH or fill out our online contact page to get started.

*The above information was reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, P.A. Our law firm has a combined 120+ years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.

Our Litigation Partner, Stanley Gipe, is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, which means that according to the Florida Bar, he is authorized to call himself a trial law expert. Our firm has now handled more than 7,500 individual personal injury cases. Further, we have resolved thousands of claims and lawsuits involving a variety of different spine injuries.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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