Auto collisions often result in serious injuries, and fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine can occur when people are involved in high-speed crashes that end in a violent impact. Spinal fractures can range from minor compression breaks that are barely visible on x-ray imaging to major disruptions that result in permanent spinal cord injuries.

Compression fractures occur when the front sections of the affected vertebrae are cracked as a result of an over-flexion of the spinal column. This type of fracture is usually stable and does not affect the integrity of the spinal cord. Head-on collisions often cause more serious breaks in the spinal column that separate the vertebrae and may cause injury to the spinal cord.

The primary symptom of a spinal fracture is pain that increases with movement. If the spinal cord has been injured due to the disruption, symptoms such as numbness, tingling, loss of bowel and bladder control and weakness may be present. When a break in the spinal column occurs as a result of a major car accident, many other serious injuries may be present. According to a report by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, patients often miss the symptoms of a spinal fracture because the pain that they experience from their other injuries often overwhelms their back pain.

People who have incurred serious injuries or permanent disabilities resulting from car accidents that were caused by the error or carelessness of another driver may be able to seek restitution for their medical bills and other losses such as property damage and lost income. A personal injury lawyer may able to help people receive compensation by seeking a settlement from the responsible parties and insurance companies or by filing a liability suit.