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Can a “Minor” Car Crash Cause Serious Back Injuries?

Jul 11, 2018 Catastrophic Personal Injury, Spine Injuries, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. Your Spine Is Complicated and Sensitive
  2. 2. A Minor Auto Collision Can Have Serious Consequences
  3. 3. Preexisting Conditions Can Make Your Injury Worse — But That Should Not Affect Your Injury Lawsuit
  4. 4. An Experienced Lawyer Can Help Explain Your Injuries and Help You Recover Compensation
  5. 5. Crosley Law: We Demand Justice for Our Clients in San Antonio and Throughout Texas

You’re stopped at a red light during your morning commute. As you sip your coffee, another driver rear-ends your car. Your rear bumper has a small dent and your airbags did not deploy. Your neck feels a little sore at the time of the crash, so you don’t get medical treatment. Three days later, you start noticing pain shooting down your arm and up your neck. Could that minor car accident have caused a serious injury? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.”

Your Spine Is Complicated and Sensitive

Your spine is composed of many delicate structures. Typically, doctors break the spine down into five sections:

  • Cervical: the seven vertebrae between your head and shoulders
  • Thoracic: the twelve mid-back vertebrae that support your ribs and protect your heart and lungs
  • Lumbar: the five vertebrae in your low back
  • Sacrum: a series of fused vertebrae that connect your spine to your hips
  • Coccyx: your tailbone

Each section of your spine helps to support your entire body and transport messages to and from the brain.

RELATED ARTICLE: Understanding the Costs and Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury

Within each section of our spine, different tissues and structures exist:

  • Vertebrae are interlocking bones that create your spinal column.
  • Discs are the shock absorbers for your spine. A disc has a fibrous exterior (called the annulus) that holds a gelatinous material inside (the nucleus).
  • The spinal cord is a complicated bundle of neurons that transmit messages between your brain and body.
  • Your spinal nerves include 31 pairs branching off your spinal cord and communicating messages to specific parts of the body.
  • Ligaments are fibrous bands of tissue that hold your spine together and protect it.

Many of the spaces that your nerves and soft tissues pass through are extremely narrow. For this reason, swelling, inflammation, and “mild” injuries can cause serious pain and dysfunction.


A Minor Auto Collision Can Have Serious Consequences

While insurance companies often argue that a “minor,” “no damage” car crash can’t cause serious injuries, this simply isn’t true. During a car wreck, your body is subjected to many forces, including acceleration, deceleration, rotation, and more. These can cause serious damage to your body, especially if you’re rear-ended or t-boned.

Your neck is particularly vulnerable in a crash. Rapid acceleration and deceleration can make your neck whip back and forth, causing whiplash. Injuries to the soft tissues that hold your spine together can cause neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and other symptoms. While whiplash is a temporary condition for some crash victims, other people take longer to recover and require intensive medical treatment.

You might also experience sprains, strains, compression fractures, or a spondylolisthesis (when a vertebra slips out of alignment).

RELATED ARTICLE: Do You Have Any of These Delayed Symptoms After a Car Wreck?

“While insurance companies often argue that a “minor,” “no damage” car crash can’t cause serious injuries, this simply isn’t true.”

Preexisting Conditions Can Make Your Injury Worse — But That Should Not Affect Your Injury Lawsuit

Most adult spines are already affected by degenerative disc disease. According to some studies, 37% of people in their 20s have degenerative disc disease in their spines. Even if you don’t regularly experience back pain, there’s a good chance that you have some degeneration in your spine. This makes your spine more prone to injury during a car crash.

For example, suppose you have a tiny disc bulge in your neck. Most people are completely unaware that they have bulging discs because they never experience significant neck pain.

However, even a tiny, undetected disc bulge can put you at a higher risk of injury during a car crash. Acceleration and deceleration during a collision can put pressure on your spine and its discs. If a disc is already compromised, it’s more likely to rupture or herniate, which can require expensive and complicated surgeries and rehabilitation.

While the insurance company might try to deny your claim by arguing that it was a preexisting condition, Texas applies the “eggshell skull rule” in car accident claims. Therefore, insurance companies must accept injured victims as they are, degenerative changes and all, and cover their claims when an accident causes a condition to worsen.

RELATED ARTICLE: What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule and How Does It Apply to Texas Car Accident Cases?

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help Explain Your Injuries and Help You Recover Compensation

Insurance companies and their experts love to point out medical studies implying that low-speed collisions do not cause serious injuries. However, a well-prepared legal strategy and expert testimony can effectively debunk the insurance company’s claims using the specific details of your situation.

Every person and crash is different. The forces involved in your collision and their impact on your body will depend on multiple factors, including:

  • The types and sizes of vehicles involved
  • The point and direction of collision (rear-end, T-bone, or head-on)
  • How fast each car was moving
  • Where you were positioned in the vehicle
  • Whether you were wearing a seatbelt
  • Your age, height, weight, and gender
  • Whether you had preexisting conditions that increased your risk of serious injury
  • Whether your airbags deployed properly or any other vehicle parts were defective

With all of these factors involved, a “minor” accident can be much more devastating than it seems — especially when a victim’s unique health conditions increase the risk of injury.

RELATED CLIENT STORY: Minor Collision Causes Major Injuries; Betsy’s Story

Crosley Law: We Demand Justice for Our Clients in San Antonio and Throughout Texas

At Crosley Law, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail, cutting-edge litigation strategies, and personalized focus on clients. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a car accident, call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete our simple, online form. Initial consultations are always free.

When you work with Crosley Law, a skilled car accident lawyer will carefully assess your crash, the evidence, and your losses. They may also consult with medical, biomechanical, and accident reconstruction experts. Armed with this information, we fight for our clients, demanding fair compensation and closure after a crash.


Brinjikji, W., Luetmer, P.H., Comstock, B., Bresnahan, B.W., Chen, L.E., Deyo, R.A., Halabi, S., Turner, J.A., Avins, A.L., James, K., Wald, J.T., Kallmes, D.F., Jarvik, J.G. (2015, April). Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. American Journal of Neuroradiology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464797/

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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