Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. They are among the most common types of car accidents. The sudden, violent jolt of a rear-end collision can inflict a range of injuries, from minor to severe, that can have lasting impacts on one’s health and well-being. Below, our Los Angeles car accident lawyers discuss what happens to your body in a rear-end collision. We also discuss what to do after a rear-end crash to protect your potential car accident claim.

How Is the Body Affected at the Moment of Impact in Rear-End Crashes?

At the moment of impact, when a vehicle hits the back of your car, your body experiences a significant jolt. The sudden momentum forces your car and your body forward. Hopefully, you wore a seatbelt, which would strain across your chest and pelvis and stop you from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard and thrust you back in your seat.

The pressure exerted by the seat belt across your chest and pelvis can cause bruises, internal injuries, or even fractures in more severe cases. Additionally, your head, which is not instantly held back, is thrown forward and then backward. This whip-like motion can cause muscle strain, or tear muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck.Two cars involved in a rear end collision

The sudden and severe force of a rear-end collision can also put tremendous pressure on the spine. This pressure can lead to soft tissue injuries such as a herniated disc, where the soft cushion between the spine’s vertebrae ruptures. It could also result in spinal cord injuries, such as compression fractures, where the vertebrae are damaged.

If the collision is severe enough to trigger the airbag, the force of its deployment can cause injuries to the face, multiple chest traumas, and arms. These injuries can range from minor burns or abrasions to more serious injuries like broken bones.

What Are the Most Common Injuries in a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end collisions can lead to a range of injuries, some of which may not manifest immediately. These injuries are largely due to the sudden impact that propels the body, particularly the upper body, forward and then quickly backward. Some common injuries from a rear-end accident include, but are not limited to:


A whiplash injury is one of the most common injuries in a rear-end collision, resulting from the head and neck’s rapid forward and backward motion. It is a soft tissue injury. Symptoms of whiplash can include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and reduced mobility. Severe cases may result in symptoms like memory problems and difficulty concentrating.

Herniated Discs

The spine absorbs a significant amount of force during a rear-end collision. The impact of a rear-end collision can cause the soft cushions between the vertebrae in your spine, called discs, to rupture. A herniated disc is a soft tissue injury that may cause back pain, nerve pain, tingling, or numbness.

Broken Bones

There are many ways to suffer bone fractures during a rear-end crash. The force of the accident, sudden constriction of the seatbelt, the airbag deploying, or trying to brace yourself can all result in bone fractures. For example, the force from the accident could result in a spinal injury, such as a compression fracture. You could suffer fractured ribs due to your seat belt or the airbag. Wrist and arm fractures are common when bracing yourself against the dashboard during impact.

Head and Brain Injuries

Depending on the accident’s severity, the driver or passengers may hit their heads on the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows, leading to concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can result in headaches, cognitive issues, and behavioral changes.

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Are There Long-Term Impacts of a Rear-End Collision?

While some people recover from their rear-end collision injuries quickly, others may experience complications that last for months or even years. Potential long-term impacts of a rear-end accident include:Therapist massaging a woman's shoulders on a therapy bed

  • Chronic pain: Some injuries may cause persistent pain that lasts long after the accident. Chronic pain can lead to difficulty performing daily tasks and reduced quality of life.
  • Cognitive issues: A person with a traumatic brain injury or concussion may experience long-term cognitive issues. Issues may include problems with memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.
  • Emotional and psychological disorders: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues can emerge after a traumatic event like a car accident. These issues can affect a person’s emotional well-being and overall quality of life.
  • Reduced mobility and disability: Serious injuries from rear-end collisions, such as spinal cord injuries or severe fractures, may lead to reduced mobility or temporary or permanent disability. These injuries could require ongoing medical treatment, long-term physical therapy, or the use of assistive devices.
  • Financial strain: The costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and lost wages due to time off work can cause long-term financial devastation. We recommend consulting with a car accident lawyer who may be able to help you pursue compensation for these costs.

What to Do After a Rear-End Accident

If you find yourself involved in a rear-end car accident, there are several steps you can take to ensure your safety and protect your potential accident claim. These steps include the following:

  • Check for injuries: Check yourself and your passengers for any visible injuries. If anyone is injured, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance immediately.
  • Move to safety: If it is safe and you are able, move your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic and prevent any additional accidents.
  • Call law enforcement: Even for seemingly minor accidents, you should call 9-1-1 to report the accident to your local law enforcement or the California Highway Patrol (CHP). If law enforcement comes to the accident scene, they will block it off, investigate the crash, and create an accident report.
  • Exchange information: Exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident. You should get the driver’s name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information.
  • Take pictures of the accident: Take photographs of the accident scene, including any visible injuries and damages to the vehicles. You should also take photos of anything that may have contributed to the crash, such as road or weather conditions.
  • Identify witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to get their names and contact information.
  • Seek medical attention: Even a minor wreck can result in injuries. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is important for your health and potential claim. You should get a full medical evaluation within 24 hours of the rear-end collision.
  • Consult an experienced car accident lawyer: We recommend consulting with our Los Angeles car accident attorneys after a Southern California accident. We can help you understand your legal rights and potential options for recovering compensation for your damages.

Why Is It Important to Seek Medical Treatment Immediately?

Even if you feel fine or believe you have only minor injuries, you should get a medical evaluation promptly after a rear-end collision. Why? Car accidents are traumatic events. Your body may be in shock, which can mask pain and other serious injury symptoms. Certain injuries, such as whiplash, concussions, or internal injuries, may not present symptoms immediately. It can sometimes take hours, days, or even weeks for symptoms to appear.Yellow car with a badly damaged rear after an accident

Immediate medical attention can help identify and treat injuries that, if left untreated, could lead to long-term or permanent medical complications. Additionally, if you decide to pursue an accident claim for damages related to the accident, your medical records will serve as vital evidence. These records can establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries. If you wait too long to receive medical attention, it will be more challenging to prove that the accident resulted in your injuries.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Rear-End Accident?

Have you been injured in a rear-end collision? You may be entitled to recover several types of damages, depending on the unique circumstances of your case. Personal injury damages can generally be categorized into economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are quantifiable costs associated with your accident. They may include medical expenses, such as emergency care, hospital stays, doctor visits, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical care you may need because of the accident. They may also include lost wages if your injuries force you to miss work and property damages for repairing or replacing your vehicle.

Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses you suffer as a result of the accident. These damages generally include the physical and emotional distress caused by your injuries. They may include physical pain and emotional suffering, like depression or anxiety.

How Can I Recover Compensation for My Injuries?

After suffering injuries in a rear-end car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If the other driver’s negligence resulted in your injuries, you may be able to file a claim against their auto insurance policy.

We recommend working with an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer to help you with your claim. An attorney can provide extensive knowledge, experience, and support, including:

  • Legal advice: An attorney can answer your legal questions, explain your legal rights, and help you determine your potential legal options.
  • Accident investigation: Your attorney can thoroughly investigate the accident to gather evidence, identify all possible sources of liability, and determine the full extent of your damages.
  • Evidence collection: A lawyer can help collect crucial evidence to support your accident claim, such as the police report, medical records, witness statements, and surveillance footage.
  • Assessment of damages: An attorney can help accurately assess and quantify your damages, including those that might not be immediately apparent, such as future medical costs or long-term impacts on your earning capacity.
  • Negotiation with the other driver’s insurance company: An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to deal with insurance companies. Your attorney will communicate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to seek a fair settlement.
  • Representation in court: If your case goes to court, your attorney will represent you, presenting your case and arguing on your behalf to seek the best possible outcome.
What Tests Are Done After a Car Accident?

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys Today

Have you recently suffered severe injuries in a Southern California rear-end accident? You may have a viable claim to recover compensation for your damages. Do not hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles car accident attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

During a consultation, we can answer your legal questions and discuss your potential legal options for pursuing compensation. Call us at (800) 824-5416 or submit our online contact form to get started.