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Side Impact Car Accidents Can Result in Spinal Cord Injuries

Jason Reese


  • Since many motor vehicle safety features are designed to protect drivers and passengers from front and rear accidents, many side impact car crashes still leave occupants relatively unprotected other than the car door.
  • T-bone accidents and broadside collisions can be most devastating to a car accident victim’s spinal cord.
  • Injuries to the spine may differ in severity depending on the speed, size and force of the striking car or object but the damage will nearly always cause chronic pain, permanent disabilities and emotional shock, and for some, paralysis.
  • In addition, if a spinal cord injury goes misdiagnosed or untreated, soft tissue injuries may lead to more critical and severe issues that stick for a lifetime. To begin the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process it is important for victims to seek medical and legal help as soon as possible.

The Effects of Side Impact Car Crashes on The Spinal Cord

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) statistics show side impact car accidents kill between 8,000 and 10,000 people each year, accounting for about 25 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths. For the victims that live, injuries can be devastating and battled life-long, more so than other types of accident injuries. Outside of a few car manufacturers installing side curtain airbags, most motor vehicles still don’t offer the features needed to keep occupants safe in the event of a side collision. Because of this there remains a heightened vulnerability to more neck, spine, and head injuries than any other type of injury sustained in a side impact crash.

Of the crash simulation lab studies out here, most have shown that non-lethal spinal injuries tend to be the most common in side-impact collisions. A study from the School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation at Northeastern University explains a side-impact crash injury pattern best.

“… the forces applied to bones, muscles, and joints of the body are clearly capable of inflicting significant injury. Almost all joints are pulled and twisted. Why? Because the body of the occupant is first accelerated in his seat due to the side impact, the head remains static. This inflicts tremendous force on the neck. Then, just as the neck is stretched to (or even beyond) its normal limits, the head starts its lateral motion, the neck snaps back. When this takes place, the head has accelerated up to five times the G-force of the impact — and then back. Muscles and ligaments can be stretched beyond their breaking strength. Discs can be damaged. Nerve roots or the spinal cord can be injured permanently.”

Some of the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs

Immediate care and a medical visit to be assessed by a professional will reduce the chance of complications and provide the treatment and proper documentation needed to make a case for the incident.

Request the Representation You Need to Support Your Spinal Cord Injury

If you suspect a spinal cord injury, you will want to work with a law firm who has access to the best health care team. This team can perform a series of tests to determine the neurological level and completeness of your injury and help the team of legal experts build your case the right way, from the start. Don’t wait until your injury worsens and please call the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation.

Connect with us by calling (888) 204-8440 or submitting our online form. One of our attorneys will review your information and respond promptly so you can begin your recovery.


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