C2 Fractures: The Hangman’s Fracture

The Hangman’s Fracture sounds extremely painful and potentially deadly. It’s a term that describes a spinal cord injury of the axis vertebrae. It is a bilateral fracture of the C2 vertebrae in the neck. Any spinal injury can be dangerous, but a C2 neck injury can be especially dangerous and debilitating.

What is a C2 Hangman’s Fracture?

A C2 fracture can occur from hyperextension of the spinal cord. The hyperextension may occur during a slip and fall accident, motor vehicle accident, or other event. When the head and neck are hyperextended, the cervical bones can dislocate or fracture. The result is a broken neck.

The C2 vertebrae is the axis that allows the head to move from side to side. Any spinal cord injury can be serious. However, a C2 vertebrae fracture can result in complete paralysis below the neck. A C2 neck injury can also result in death. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Hangman’s Fracture?

The symptoms of a cervical fracture at C2 depend on the severity of the fracture. In the most severe cases, the person sustains complete and total paralysis below the break. The spinal cord is damaged or severed, thereby causing total loss of sensation or movement below the neck. 

Total paralysis means the loss of body functions, such as breathing. The person may also become incontinent and experience muscle atrophy. They may be unable to speak. 

Minor C2 fractures may cause:

  • Neck pain
  • Tenderness
  • Loss of sensation
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain at the base of the skull
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Double vision
  • Swelling
  • Loss of consciousness

A physician can perform an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan to diagnose a Hangman’s Fracture. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the doctor may prescribe a rigid cervical collar to immobilize the neck. Immobilizing the neck prevents further damage and allows the fracture to heal.

For severe C2 fractures, the physician may recommend neck surgery to repair the fracture. Neck surgery has many risks and could result in complications. Physical therapy may also be required to assist in healing.

If a C2 fracture is not treated, the person could sustain further injury. The head and neck may become unstable and cause further injury to the spinal cord. Without proper treatment, a minor cervical fracture could worsen and result in paralysis.

Common Causes of a C2 Spinal Fracture

There are many ways that a person can sustain a C2 fracture. Neck injuries and spinal cord injuries are common accident injuries. 

Common causes of C2 spinal fractures include:

Almost any accident or activity that can cause the head and neck to hyperextend can result in a cervical fracture. Blunt force trauma to the neck may also result in a C2 fracture.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Hangman’s Fracture

If another party caused the accident that resulted in your cervical fracture, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. However, you must prove the elements of a negligence claim before you can recover compensation for damages.

Negligence requires that you prove the following legal elements:

  • The party owed you a duty of care 
  • The party breached the duty of care
  • The breach caused your injury
  • You sustained damages because of the accident or incident

If you can prove the legal elements of negligence, you may receive compensation for your injuries. The amount you receive depends on the facts of your case. Cases involving traumatic injuries and permanent disabilities generally have a higher value than cases involving minor to moderate injuries.

You could recover compensation for your:

  • Medical treatment and medical expenses
  • Personal care, including long-term care
  • Loss of income, including future income 
  • Decreases in earning capacity 
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Decrease in your quality of life

The first priority after an accident is your health. Immediate medical attention is required for a fractured vertebra. Indeed, it is wise to seek medical care for all neck injuries.

You should not delay in seeking legal advice regarding a personal injury claim. California’s statute of limitations limits your time to file a claim. If you do not file your claim before the deadline, you lose your right to seek compensation from the party who caused your injury. 

Family members who lose a loved one because of a Hangman’s Fracture may be entitled to compensation for their losses. They can seek advice from a lawyer regarding filing a wrongful death claim

Contact Our Personal Injury & Accident Law Firm in San Diego Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in San Diego, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney or contact us online.


Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 777-5555