If you sustained a neck injury after a car accident, read on for different types of cervical spine injuries, symptoms, treatments and tips for your personal injury claim. The Bishop Law Firm represents injured accident clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win your case.

This article is not medical advice regarding neck injury. If you are having neck pain after a motor vehicle accident, please seek immediate medical treatment.


A car accident can cause head injury, neck injury, mid-back injury or low back injury, to name a few. The spinal column is made up of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine and begins at the end of the brain stem. These parts are reliant on each other to give your body movement and stability.

An injury victim may have pain at various parts of the spinal cord even though they only injured the cervical area. If you are also having low back pain, you can read lower back pain after a car accident.

Unfortunately, car accident neck injury can result in:

Whiplash (Cervical Strain or Neck Sprain)

During your accident, if your head suddenly jerked forward and/or backward this can result in whiplash. This jerking can result in tears to your neck muscles, ligaments or tendons (soft tissue) (Via WedMD ). Pain with motion, stiffness, and headaches are all whiplash symptoms. Your symptoms may start immediately after the auto accident or may present themselves in the coming days.

Treatment for whiplash victims can include icing, pain medicine, a neck brace (but these are not recommended for long term use) or massage. Recovery time varies depending on if you have suffered mild – severe whiplash. Whiplash can last for a few days or become long term chronic pain. Don’t assume that you have whiplash after a car accident, if you develop pain see a doctor who can rule out other serious injury.

Cervical Herniated Disc 

Commonly herniated discs begin spontaneously but can certainly happen from the trauma of a car accident. A disc herniation occurs when pressure is applied to the shock absorbers between your spinal discs. This pressure can cause a bulging disc and can in turn compress a nerve.

Nerve compression cuts off nerve communication to the affected areas and can result in pain, numbness, and loss of motion from your neck to your hands (cervical radiculopathy). This loss of communication, if not remedied quickly, can result in permanent nerve damage. Spinal stenosis can also be aggravated by a car accident.

Even a small disc herniation can cause cervical radiculopathy and severe pain. A MRI or CT scan with a myleogram are used to diagnose herniation. A nerve conduction study can be used to see if you have radiculopathy. Physical therapy, injections, bracing, disc replacement, a fusion, or a discectomy can be done to help relieve the herniation.

Chiropractic manipulation may help if it is gentle but please make sure your neck injury will be helped by chiropractic care before you proceed. Aggressive chiropractic manipulation can actually make the pain and neurological damage worse (Via Spine Health ).

As discussed before on this site, x-rays will not demonstrate a pinched nerve and x-rays are the most common type of imaging offered to accident victims. If you begin to experience numbness in your upper extremities, report to the doctor immediately and document when the numbness started.

Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck) or Dislocation 

If you have fractured or dislocated a vertebrae in an car accident, it needs to be immobilized and corrected as quickly as possible to minimize long term spinal cord injury . The longer nerves are not communicating the more damage will be caused. This type of injury can take substantial time to heal and some form of intrusive surgery will be required. In addition, depending on where you have sustained the break or dislocation, there may be life long implications (Via OrthoInfo ). Brain injury is also an unfortunate possibility.

What to do after a Neck Injury From A Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you should seek medical treatment, take photos of your injury, document missed time from work, avoid discussing your accident on social media and follow all medical advice.

After you file your claim with the insurance company, the adjuster assigned to your injury claim may try to settle your claim as soon as possible so they don’t have to pay for any additional medical treatment. In the alternative, some insurance companies will delay working on a accident victim‘s case until the statute of limitations has expired so the auto accident victim can not recover for their losses.

In NC, a car accident injury victim can receive compensation for lost wages (present and future), medical bills (present and future), pain & suffering and other accident-related injury expenses. A NC personal injury lawyer can help you recover all your losses by factoring all these expenses into your personal injury settlement. If your pain & suffering, current bills and future losses are not factored into your car crash settlement you may find yourself in debt later on. You should not have to pay twice for the negligence of another.

The Bishop Law Firm represents car victims of auto accidents in RaleighCaryDurhamRocky MountWilsonFayettevilleSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids and more! We look forward to working with you and wish you a speedy recovery.

Also read: NC Car Accident Lawyer