• Christopher J. Fry, Esq.

How to Handle Back & Neck Pain After a Car Accident

After a car accident, it’s common to feel some back and neck discomfort.

After all...

You’ve just undergone an incredible amount of trauma, whether you know it or not, due to the force of your auto accident.

Upper back pain after a car accident can mean many things. And even delayed back pain after a car accident is normal.

But you need to understand that, no matter how you feel following a car accident, it's important to follow our guide to car accidents for the best steps to take care of your health and financial well-being.

Be it middle back pain, or general back pain after a car accident, you need to ensure you're fairly compensated for your medical bills.

Types of Car Accidents Typically Resulting in Back & Neck Pain

Neck and back pain after a car accident can be the result of almost any collision depending on how you're hit and how that impact travels through your body.


Some types of collisions carry more risk than others.

Rear-end Collision

Because of the way your vehicle is impacted by a rear-end collision, you run a high chance of injuring your back or neck.

The sudden, jarring movement of your body as it heaves forward can do a number to you, especially when you’re not braced for the impact.

And that kinetic energy has to travel somewhere—in the case of a rear-end collision, that is typically to your neck, where it radiates down to your upper and middle back.

Intersection Collision or T-Bone Collision

One of the nastiest types of car accidents is the intersection collision, most commonly resulting in a "T-bone" type collision, where a vehicle strikes another from the side.

Depending on your make of car, you may or may not have side airbags.

Without them, you can suffer from grievous bodily injuries.

With them, you may be the brunt of less of the impact.

In either case...

Your neck is most likely going to sustain an injury from the impact as it heaves suddenly to the side upon collision.

Single-Vehicle Collision

A single-vehicle collision is one in which a solitary car exits the road and impacts a stationary object such as a tree or telephone pole.

While car-on-car accidents are nasty affairs, they have one saving grace in that both objects are made of metal and are designed to crumple in a specific manner upon impact, thereby absorbing much of the kinetic energy from the impact before it travels through the riders inside the vehicles.

But when a vehicle impacts a stationary object, that object will most likely not buckle against the weight of the offending vehicle.

Instead, all of that impact energy will travel through the car, where it is absorbed by the riders, causing much more serious injury.

In the case of a single-vehicle collision, back and neck injuries, while common, are the least of your worries in many cases.

How Long Does Back Pain Last After a Car Accident?

Pain due to injuries sustained in a car accident can last days, weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of injuries and what is injured.

Our ability to repair ourselves in astounding, yet some parts of us take much longer than others.

Back and neck pain resulting from an auto accident is some of the first pain to fade away thanks to our body's ability to mend itself.

In many cases, the pain we're feeling in our back and neck is due to whiplash.

In a week or two, the pain will fade and eventually go away entirely after a total of 6 weeks.

However, you may have flair ups for the rest of your life.

It's best to see a doctor immediately following an accident, even if you feel no pain at all.

They will do their best to ensure there are a few lasting effects from the accident as possible.


Only a doctor can diagnose a slipped or bulging disc as well as any other major trauma to your back or spine.

These injuries take longer to heal, may need intervention in the form of surgery or physical therapy, and maybe with you for your whole life, especially if you do not seek medical help right away.

Typical Symptoms & Possible Injuries

After a car accident, you can expect to feel pain from many different regions of your body.

But it’s important to understand your symptoms to ensure none of them are signs of something worse.

Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain after a car accident can be caused by inflammation and/or whiplash.

Both injuries should heal on their own, but it’s still important to see a doctor regardless.

Middle Back Pain

Whiplash can even affect your middle back, so some middle back pain can be expected if you’ve been in a jarring car accident.

However, you’ll want to see a doctor to ensure you’re not feeling the symptoms of a spinal injury.

Delayed Back Pain

Delayed back pain after a car accident is perfectly normal.

Your body is pumped so full of adrenaline and may even be in shock following an accident.

Both of these things will hide the pain you’re feeling even for up to two days.

Just because you haven’t yet felt any pain doesn’t mean you aren’t injured.

See your doctor right after the accident regardless of how you’re feeling.

Numbness & Tingling

If you feel any numbness or tingling (think of the pins and needles sensation) then you must see a doctor right away—this can be the symptom of a serious spinal injury.


A headache can be from adrenaline leaving your body, a concussion, or a brain injury.

As you can see, headaches cover a wide range of problems, so it’s best to see a doctor and let them examine you.

Types of Compensation Due to Accident & Injury

It might be hard to think of your insurance and the need for a personal injury lawyer in the middle of something as traumatic as a car accident, especially if you’re injured.


Your medical bills will add up even for minor injuries.

It’s important that you understand that you are entitled to compensation for a variety of things in the resulting aftermath of an auto accident.

Special Compensatory Damages

These types of damages can vary widely from person-to-person and exist as a means to compensate an individual victim for expenses incurred (or money lost) due to an accident.

You can speak to a personal injury lawyer to better understand what you qualify for, but common special compensatory damages are:

  • Medical bills

  • Cost of future health care due to your injuries

  • Loss of personal earnings (from not being able to work)

  • Loss of future earnings (if you cannot go back to work promptly or at all)

  • Household expenses

  • Costs associated with the altering of your future plans due to the accident (such as a vacation you already paid for)

General Compensatory Damages

General compensatory damages act as a means to collect money due to non-monetary damages incurred due to an accident and the resultant injuries you’ve sustained.

They typically cover:

  • Mental anguish

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of consortium (the death of a spouse or family member)

Wrongful Death Damages

As the name implies, wrongful death damage consists of any compensation collected due to the death of a loved one and the resultant expenses that emerge from that scenario:

  • Funeral and burial expenses

  • Pre-death health care costs

  • Emotional distress

  • Loss of a financial source

  • Loss of consortium

Your Next Steps

If you've been in an automobile accident, then your first step is to call the police to file a traffic report and have an officer at the scene.

Whether you believe you're injured or not, you must visit an emergency room or your family doctor for an examination to understand the extent of your injuries.

After an accident, if you're injured in any way, then you need to seek the consultation of a personal injury lawyer.

Only an attorney well-versed in the matters of personal injury and vehicle accidents can help you navigate the challenges of litigation against the individual that caused those injuries.

They’ll fight for your special, general, and even wrongful death damages to ensure that, at the very least, you’re not left with the bill for some other person’s transgression!

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