Back Injury From Car Accident

Symptoms and Calculating Pain and Suffering


If you suffered severe back injury from a car accident, then you should be well aware of the possible symptoms and how much money your pain and suffering might be worth.

According to the Mayo Clinic, suffering back pain is one of the most common type of vehicle injuries. In fact, auto accidents are responsible for upwards of 40 percent of spinal injuries in a given year [1]

In addition to dealing with the injuries you have to deal with the high medical costs. According to The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the total cost of lower back pain is close to $100 BILLION ! [2]

Due to the high risk of back injuries from car accidents and the expensive medical treatments, in this article we’ll discuss 2 critical things:

1. What are the most common back injuries? 
2. How can I be compensated for my pain and suffering ? 

So let’s begin…

1. Most Common Back Injuries From Car Accidents

The unfortunate truth is that when it comes to car accidents, the damage is not always limited to the vehicle. Rear end accidents , in particular, have shown a tendency to cause serious back pain after a car accident.

For our purposes we’ll talk about the back as 2 distinct sections: upper back (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar). In each of these areas the spine is surrounded by a complex system of nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and discs.

Upper back (Thoracic) –

Injuries to this area of the body are often the most serious. High-speed accidents are often associated with sprains and fractures to this area of the body (ribs, chest, etc.) Symptoms are likely to include, stiffness, swelling and in the case of a fracture sharp localized pain. Nerve damage is also possible with the right type of impact.

Lower back (Lumbar)-

The lower back is home to the biggest vertebra and strongest muscles of the back. Common injuries from car accidents seen here are sprains, strains, fractures, contusions and other soft tissue injuries.

These injuries can be very painful as the body engages the low back with almost every motion. Along with being painful, a low back injury can affect your range of motion. They are also notorious for impairing daily activities, such as the capacity to do your job.

Discs and Spinal Cord-

Parties involved in a car accident can sometimes experience herniated discs. Discs are little buffers that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine. A herniation of a disc means it has come out of place which can cause pressure to be placed on surrounding nerves.

Any injury affecting your spinal cord should be treated very seriously. When it comes to car accidents injuries range from simple bruising all the way to permanent nerve damage and paralysis.

For a thorough understanding of how you should treat your back pain check out this article onWebMD.

Now that you’ve got a handle on common back injuries after a car accident , let’s talk about how you can recover financially…

2. How Much Is My Back injury Pain and Suffering Worth?

In order to be compensated for your back pain after a car accident, you will need to start an auto claim with the insurance company.

Once the insurance claims process has begun, you should pay attention to a few factors that affect how much money you receive for your car accident injury.

Obviously each settlement claim is different but here are some guidelines:

Compensable damages

When it comes to car accident injury claims, the focus is on “compensatory damages”. These are both the economic and noneconomic damages you sustained.

What exactly does this mean?

Economic damages

This is simply money you had to spend or money that you could not earn due to your injury. Typically :

    • Past, current, and future medical bills clearly fall into this category. The amount involved here can vary wildly. If you’re unsure as to the final amount of your medical treatment costs talk to your medical provider. In most cases, they should be able to help you ballpark things.
    • Earning potential: lost wage compensation also fall into the economic category and are a critical piece of the injury settlement amount. If you are deemed medically unable to work for a period of time you may be eligible to receive money for lost wages. This is determined by your salary, work history, and projected earnings.

Noneconomic damages-

These are the losses as a result of your back injury that are hard to place a dollar value on. Typically:

Pain and suffering: is both the mental and physical trauma and hardship that your injury has put you through. How you put a number value to this can be tricky because it involves ultimately a subjective guess. We have our own pain and suffering calculator that guides you through this process.

Emotional distress: These are damages to your sense of well being as result of your back pain. It usually involves some sort of severe emotional trauma. Sometimes, emotional distress damages may be viewed separately or compensated as part of your pain and suffering. This however, depends on your individual state law.[3][4]

To get a better idea of how all of this information is used to determine your settlement amount read our back injury settlement example .


In summary, if you have suffered a back injury from a car accident, keep the basics in mind:

  • The most common injuries are strains, sprains, fractures and contusions to upper and lower back.
  • Spinal cord and disc injuries are less common, but generally much more serious.
  • Assessing your personal injury claim involves figuring out the amount of your economic and noneconomic damages.
  • Use our pain and suffering calculator to calculate how much your injury might be worth.

You’re now armed with a bit more information about what to do if you suffer a back injury from a car accident. Follow these steps and hopefully you will be able to quickly recover both physically and financially.

[1] Mayo Clinic 
[2] JAOA
[3] US Legal 
[4] US Legal 

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