Ligaments are fibrous bands of tissue that hold the bones of your body together. The ligaments of the spine are there to keep the bones of spine in alignment. (Click here to view Spinal Ligament Anatomy)
During an auto collision, the head moves very rapidly in relation to the torso, and this rapid motion results in shear forces occuring between the joints of the spine. The animation on the right shows the motion that the vertebrae experience, and how the ligaments can be stretched or torn.
The scientific literature has shown over and over that whiplash can result in ligament injury. We've provided more information about this issue here. Just click on the article title to read more about these injuries.