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An unexpected rear-end collision can cause unseen injuries

Perhaps your vehicle has been hit from behind at some point. If not, keep in mind that such an accident is usually unexpected, and your body is not prepared for impact.

A rear-end crash, even when it happens at a low speed, can cause injuries to the spine, neck and other parts of your body that might not be evident right away.

How the body reacts

A vehicle traveling at less than 5 miles per hour can cause neck and spine injuries if it hits your vehicle from behind. A great deal of force is unleashed in a split second. Because you do not have time to react, your head snaps backward and forward causing hypertension in your neck, and your spine cannot protect itself from damage. You may experience an adrenaline rush, which will mask certain types of injuries. For example, symptoms of a traumatic brain injury might not show up for hours, even days after the crash.

Contributing factors

In a rear-end collision, bodily damage will depend on the weight of the vehicle that hits yours, the location and direction of impact and, of course, the speed. While a headrest offers the best protection, injuries will relate to the position of your head upon impact or whether you or your passengers are wearing seat belts. In the impact created by a vehicle traveling up to 15 miles per hour, the front seat passenger is more at risk for injury than the driver. The passenger has nothing to hold onto, whereas the driver can grip the steering wheel.

Seeing the doctor

A rear-end collision is usually a minor accident, a fender-bender that is more frustrating than anything else. If you are the victim, you will probably be more concerned about the damage to your vehicle than to yourself. However, a prompt medical evaluation is in order; first, because it is a matter of your health and well-being, especially in view of possible unseen injuries, and second, because you will want a copy of the medical report, which will be essential when the time comes for you to file a claim for insurance compensation.