Neck and back pain are very common after a car accident. For many people, this pain isn’t too severe and resolves on its own. For others, a car accident is the start of a lifetime of chronic pain and even disability.

If you are dealing with neck and lower back pain after a car accident in St. Louis, it may be a sign that you have a potentially serious injury. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if they were caused by a negligent driver. This can help you get the proper medical care you need, cover your lost wages, and more. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you investigate your accident and understand your legal options.

Neck and back injuries can vary a great deal in severity from minor to catastrophic. There are many possible causes of back and neck pain after an accident. To understand the pain you’re feeling, it helps to first understand the structure of the spinal column and how easily it can be damaged in a crash.

The Structure of the Spine: A Complex and Delicate System

Our spines are incredibly complex, providing the structural support we need to stand upright yet bend and twist while supporting around half of our body weight. This structure includes 24 vertebrae stacked together with flexible facet joints to create the spinal column. Between the vertebrae are soft cushions called discs that act as shock absorbers and protect the bones.

This structure protects the spinal cord, which works with the brain to relay signals between the body and the brain. There are 31 pairs of nerve roots that exit the spinal cord through tiny spaces between the vertebrae. Finally, the spine is supported by and works with the muscles, ligaments, and back tendons to facilitate movement.

The force of a crash, rapid acceleration and deceleration, and injuries from blunt force trauma or being crushed can easily disrupt this delicate balance. Damage to even a single part of the spine can have a domino effect. A fracture or vertebrae forced out of place can weaken the spinal structure, put pressure on nerves, and even damage the spinal cord itself.

Dozens of potential injuries can cause the pain you’re experiencing after your crash, but some are more common than others.


Whiplash is one of the most common injuries after a crash. This neck injury happens due to rapid back-and-forth movement. It usually involves injury to the discs, nerves, tendons, and neck muscles and causes neck and shoulder pain.

Muscle Strains and Sprains

The force of a crash and rapid deceleration can cause a range of soft tissue injuries. These injuries can include bruising, muscle strains or torn muscles, and ligament sprains. Soft tissue injuries can be hard to detect on diagnostic tests. Insurance companies often downplay their severity, although these injuries can cause significant and chronic pain.

Herniated Discs

Spinal discs are the cushions between vertebrae with a soft gel-like material surrounded by a tougher shell. A herniated disc happens when a portion of the softer inner material pushes through a crack in the harder exterior.

Herniated discs are very common and one of the top causes of back pain. They are usually the result of natural degeneration as they become less hydrated and weaken over time. Car accidents can also cause a herniated disc when the crash pushes a vertebra into the spinal canal, compressing and damaging the disc until it ruptures or herniates.

Spinal Fractures

Vertebral fractures are common in serious car accidents. A spinal fracture can cause severe pain, weakness or numbness, reduced mobility, and other severe symptoms.

Compression fractures happen when the vertebrae are compressed and break. These fractures usually occur in the upper back or thoracic region. Chance fractures, or seatbelt fractures, are flexion-distraction injuries. They usually happen in head-on collisions when the upper body is forced forward, but the lower body does not move.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which puts pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord. This is often a natural degenerative condition. But, it can also be caused by a crash when the spine twists and bends unnaturally or vertebrae are damaged.

Spinal stenosis may develop fairly soon after an accident, but it can also happen over time. This may be due to scar tissue after the accident, by worsening of a pre-existing condition, or by accelerating degeneration.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is considered a catastrophic injury and one of the most severe injuries possible. This type of injury happens when the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal cord are damaged. Spinal cord injuries often result in some level of permanent loss of function, sensation, and strength below the site of the injury.

Traffic accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries.

Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition

In many cases, neck or back pain after a car accident isn’t the result of a new injury but the aggravation or worsening of a pre-existing condition

A crash can worsen a number of conditions like:

  • Chronic lower back pain which affects up to 23% of the adult population
  • Osteoporosis which affects 20% of women aged 50 and above. 1.5 million vertebral compression fractures every year are caused by osteoarthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA), a common type of arthritis that gets more common with age. Spinal osteoarthritis is a risk factor for spinal fractures.
  • Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Bulging discs which may be aggravated and become herniated
  • Spondylolysis, a degenerative condition that causes vertebrae to slide out of place and compress nerves
  • Spondylolisthesis, a spinal instability disorder that allows vertebrae move more than they are meant to and slip out of place

When someone’s negligence causes injury, they are responsible for the harm they caused. This remains true even when the harm is more serious than it would be if the victim did not have a pre-existing condition. This legal doctrine is known as the eggshell skull rule.

You are still entitled to compensation for your injuries, even if a pre-existing condition made your injuries more serious. You can’t be compensated for the unrelated pre-existing condition itself. However, the at-fault party is responsible for your magnified injuries and worsened symptoms.

Contact a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Neck and Back Injury Claim

Neck and back pain caused by an accident are not always obvious. Sometimes, it takes days or weeks before you realize you were hurt. If you are experiencing lower back pain or neck pain after a crash, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. The next step is consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer to protect your rights and understand your options.

There’s no rule requiring you to hire an attorney after a car accident in St. Louis, Missouri. However, there are good reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim and any potential lawsuit. At the least, it’s probably worth your time to set up a free consultation and receive some initial legal advice.

An experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process, manage your case so you can focus on your recovery, and may help you recover a greater financial award than if you are unrepresented.

Let’s discuss exactly what a St. Louis car accident lawyer does in more detail.

Review Your Case and Explain the Claim Process

One of the first ways a personal injury lawyer can help you is by reviewing your case and evaluating whether you can seek compensation for your injuries. This may include reviewing the accident report and listening to your description of events. 

Your attorney will then explain the claim process. This may include the next steps you need to take to move forward—such as seeking further medical care. 

Gather Evidence and Assess Your Damages

Your attorney will collect evidence regarding the accident and your injuries to begin building your case. This could include police reports, video footage, witness statements, or opinions from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists. This evidence will help explain how the accident occurred and build your case that the defendant was at fault.

An experienced St. Louis car accident attorney will also assess the extent of your damages. They’ll review your medical history, current injuries, medical costs, property damage, and other losses you sustained and calculate the value of those losses.

Negotiate a Settlement With the Insurance Provider

A car accident lawyer will contact the insurance provider and demand a settlement on your behalf. They’ll negotiate with the insurance company, so you don’t have to worry about speaking with them directly. This can be beneficial to car accident victims, as insurance companies will often pressure you to settle quickly and for less than the full amount of your injuries. 

When you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, your attorney can give you their advice. They have years of education, training, and experience, and have seen many car accident settlements. Their insight about your settlement offer may be invaluable. 

Keep in mind that any decision to accept or reject a settlement offer is yours alone. 

Take Your Case to Court

If a favorable settlement can’t be reached with the insurance company, you may need to file a lawsuit in court. Your attorney will file the appropriate paperwork, present evidence to prove that the defendant was negligent, and argue your case before a jury, if necessary. 

An attorney can also respond to any arguments by the defendant that you were partially to blame, if necessary. 

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in St. Lous?

Most personal injury lawyers accept cases for a contingency fee. This is a fee that’s paid at the end of the case as a percentage of the client’s overall financial recovery. A standard contingency fee in car accident cases is between 33% and 40%. 

The attorney only collects a fee if they successfully recover compensation for their client.

Contact Our Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers To Schedule a Free Consultation

The car accident claim process can be complicated, and insurance companies may try to pressure you to accept less than full compensation for your injuries. If you were injured in a car accident in St. Louis, our experienced car accident lawyers can help you navigate the legal process and fight for full compensation for your injuries. 

Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. 

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in St. Louis, MO

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

St. Louis, MO Law Office
1430 Washington Ave Ste 225, St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 444-4444

Ladue, MO Law Office
9807 S 40 Dr, St. Louis, MO 63124

Columbia, MO Law Office
28 N 8th St # 502, Columbia, MO 65201

Creve Coeur, MO Law Office 
999 Executive Pkwy Dr #205, Creve Coeur, MO 6314