Even when it happens at a low speed, getting rear-ended is never a pleasant experience. These crashes can cause serious injuries, so it’s unfortunate that they are among the most common types of car accidents. Here’s what you should know about rear-end accidents, the injuries they cause, and how you can maximize your chances of a full recovery.

What Happens To Your Body in a Rear-End Collision?

What does “rear-ended” mean? It’s when your car is hit by another car from behind. You can be rear-ended while at a stop (for example, if you’re at a red light) or while in motion (if someone is following you too closely and hits your bumper). In either case, you have the potential to be seriously hurt.

To understand the injuries you can get in a rear-end collision, you need to first understand how a rear-end impact affects your body. In a typical rear-end collision, the victims (the people in the leading car) experience a sudden acceleration. 

That can have many effects on the body:

  • Your skull and spine snap back against the seat
  • Your brain may shift in your skull
  • Your body may be launched forward, especially if you aren’t wearing a seat belt
  • Your internal organs may lurch forward with inertia

The at-fault driver can also suffer similar injuries because their vehicle suddenly decelerates. However, in most cases, it’s the driver in the rear-ended car who suffers more severe injuries. 

Cars generally have safety features meant to protect drivers and passengers from sudden deceleration. But because sudden acceleration isn’t nearly as common, most vehicles don’t have safety features to protect against it.

In addition, part of the reason the people in the front car tend to be more severely injured is because they often don’t see the impact coming. Because they don’t have a chance to brace themselves, they can’t take any steps to protect their bodies from injury. 

In some cases — but not always — the at-fault driver can see that they’re about to crash, so they might have a chance to brace themselves.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

Rear-end crashes are fairly common. But what is a rear-end collision caused by? 

These are some of the typical causes:

While there’s no completely foolproof way to keep yourself from being rear-ended, keeping an eye out for hazards and potentially dangerous drivers might help you protect yourself and your passengers.

Typical Rear-End Collision Injuries

Usually, speed is a major determining factor in the severity of injuries in a rear-ended car accident. However, it’s possible to be badly injured even at relatively low speeds. These are some of the most common rear-end accident injuries.


Whiplash” is a somewhat general term — it can involve injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your neck. It’s an injury that happens when your neck snaps back and then forward (or vice versa), much like a whip cracking.

Whiplash can be painful. However, in most cases, it causes only mild injuries, and it will typically heal with rest.

Concussions and Other Head Injuries

Lots of people think of concussions as injuries that happen when your head is hit from the outside. However, a concussion comes from a significant force hitting your brain — and that can occur when your brain hits the inside of your skull hard enough.

In a rear-end collision, the head is accelerated. Because of inertia, your brain doesn’t move quite as fast. As a result, it may hit the back or side of your skull with considerable force, causing a concussion.


Fractures, or broken bones, can happen in any kind of car accident. Because of the sudden snapping of your spine against the seat of the car, your spine is subjected to intense force. Sometimes, that’s enough to cause compression fractures in your vertebrae.

Compression fractures aren’t the only kind of fractures you can get in a rear-end crash. You might break your femur if it hits the dashboard, and you might break your breastbone or ribs if you accelerate quickly against your seat belt.

Ruptured or Herniated Discs

Your discs are round, fibrous cushions between your vertebrae. They can withstand a good bit of force, but sometimes, the impact of a crash can be enough to cause one to break or slip out of place. It can then push on the nearby nerves, causing significant pain and numbness.

Sprains or Strains

A sprain is an injury to a ligament, and a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Because of the force your body withstands during a rear-end collision, both are possible. Back sprains and strains are especially common, but you can have these injuries just about anywhere on your body.

What To Expect After Being Rear-Ended

Sometimes, it takes a while for symptoms to show up after a car crash. The rush of adrenaline can reduce pain, so it’s possible to have a serious injury and not know it. Even if you think you’re okay, you should still see a doctor, go to an emergency room, or visit an urgent care center as soon as possible.

Seeking medical attention is critical for two reasons. The first (and most important) is to address any injuries and treat them before they worsen. The second is to preserve your ability to file a personal injury claim

If you do end up having to pay large medical bills, miss work, or go through significant pain and suffering, you may choose to file a claim against the at-fault driver. However, if you don’t seek medical care immediately, the at-fault driver’s lawyer may argue that your injuries were not severe.

Getting Back To Normal Life After a Rear-End Crash

Depending on the exact circumstances of your rear-end car crash, you might have mild injuries that heal on their own, severe and life-altering injuries, or anything in between. Every accident is different, but if you get medical attention as soon as possible and are careful to follow your doctor’s advice, you can maximize your chances of making a full recovery.

Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers at Laird Hammons Laird Trial Lawyers for a Free Consultation

For more information, please contact an experienced Car Accident lawyer at Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation today. Our law office is located in Oklahoma City.

We proudly serve Oklahoma County, OK and its surrounding areas:

Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers – OKC
1332 SW 89th St,
Oklahoma City, OK 73159
(405) 497-0480