Bagen Law Firm | May 2, 2023 | Personal Injury
Potential neck and back injuries are significant because your neck joins your head to the rest of your body, and your back allows your body to move. Both the neck and back are a complex, fragile, and easily injured collection of muscles, bones, and nerves.
Neck and back injuries vary in severity, from strained muscles to severe spinal cord injuries that lead to paralysis. Unfortunately, back and neck injury accidents frequently result in permanent impairment and chronic pain.
Neck and back injuries can arise from several different types of accidents, including car accidents and slip and falls. If someone negligently caused an accident that led to your neck or back injuries, you deserve compensation for your damages.
Unfortunately, filing and proving neck and back injury claims can involve overcoming many difficulties. Get a skilled personal injury attorney in your corner if you need to seek compensation for these injuries.
You Need Medical Care
After any injury accident, seeking medical care is crucial to your physical and financial health and well-being. Even if you don’t think you suffered an injury, it’s in your best interest to be seen by a doctor to be sure. If you suffer from serious injuries that you notice at the scene, go to the emergency room by ambulance.
Even if your injuries are not severe enough to require an ambulance, you should potentially drive yourself to the emergency room or ask someone to take you there. For other injuries, or if you aren’t sure you have any injuries, you might visit an urgent care facility or your own doctor. The important thing is that you see a medical professional who can evaluate your condition.
The medical provider you see will document their findings, providing a record of your injuries. You won’t have this record if you don’t seek medical care. Proving your damages hinges partially on documented medical care.
If you wait several days or longer to seek care, the auto or property insurance company might assert that your injuries are the result of something that happened after your accident and not the injury-causing accident itself. They won’t be obligated to pay your medical bills if they can prove this.
In addition, follow any medical advice you receive. Non-compliance with your healthcare provider’s recommendations and instructions can also negatively impact your claim.
If you don’t follow your doctor’s instructions, the insurance company might think that you:
- Aren’t really that hurt
- Don’t care about your injuries
- Refused to do what it takes to heal and recover from your injuries
Continue with treatments and follow-up appointments as long as your doctor says to.
Even if you think no one is watching or it doesn’t matter, do what your doctor says. For example, if your doctor tells you not to lift anything heavier than ten pounds, heed their instruction and don’t carry your toddler in from the car or rearrange the furniture in your living room. It’s possible that the insurance company can find out, which will be detrimental to your case. You might also hinder your own healing.
The Challenges of Proving Neck and Back Injuries After an Accident
Car accidents, slip and falls, and other incidents arising from negligence are just some of the ways that someone can injure their neck or back. Neck and back pain can also arise from lifting heavy objects, sitting too long, muscle imbalances, and much more. However, a single-car collision or another type of accident can lead to recurring or life-long back pain.
It’s often challenging to prove that the pain comes from an accident. Thankfully, experienced injury lawyers know how to build a strong claim after neck and back injuries.
They know that insurance companies frequently say that:
- You had neck or back pain or injuries before the accident
- Your neck or back injuries happened after the accident
- You’re making up your pain or making it seem worse than it is
Because there are many potential causes of neck and back pain, it can be hard to show that your pain comes solely from an accident. For example, another driver’s insurer might doubt your injuries when you file an insurance claim. Back injuries can take years to heal. In many cases, back injuries never completely go away. Certain activities might worsen the pain, even though it started with a car accident.
What Must You Prove When You File Neck and Back Injuries?
Like any other personal injury, there are specific elements of negligence you must prove when filing a claim for neck and back injuries. The easiest way to prove them is to hire an attorney who will do this for you.
You or your attorney must establish that:
- The other party owed you a duty of care. For instance, a driver must obey traffic laws, or a property owner must address safety concerns on their property.
- The other party failed to uphold their duty of care—perhaps a driver ran a red light or a property owner failed to fix an obviously broken stair step.
- The other party’s actions directly caused your accident and injuries.
- Your injuries caused compensable damages.
If you or your attorney can’t prove each of these elements of negligence, your claim won’t be successful.
Damages for Neck and Back Injuries
Even minor neck and back injuries can be quite painful and impact your life. You may be unable to lift your child, walk your dogs, enjoy your usual recreational activities, or even go to work.
You may suffer from daily pain and discomfort. Perhaps your neck or back injury has left you with permanent disfigurement or scarring. As if all of this wasn’t stressful enough, you may have expensive medical bills that someone needs to cover. A personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for all of these damages and more. The first step to receiving this compensation is to reach out for help.
Also referred to as special damages, economic damages are the ways that the accident victim suffered financially due to the injury.
The two primary examples are:
- Lost income due to being unable to physically go to work or attending medical appointments
- Medical expenses such as doctor bills, medications, therapies, or medical equipment
Special damages can also include:
- Property damage, such as to a vehicle, wedding ring, or eyeglasses
- Travel expenses to and from doctor’s appointments
Receiving medical care isn’t just crucial for your economic damages but also for your non-economic ones. Your settlement will also include compensation for your non-economic or general damages.
Your lawyer will calculate these damages based on your medical bills, lost income, and other economic damages. Even though they do not have an inherent or pre-calculated value, you still receive total payment for them. However, insurance companies regularly use non-economic damages to reduce overall payouts.
Common non-economic damages in serious neck or back injury claims include:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement or scarring
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
No one will volunteer to cover these damages. Your attorney must make a case supporting the amount you deserve for your non-economic damages and negotiate with the proper insurance companies. This is one aspect of your case for which you always want the right legal assistance.
Types of Accident Neck and Back Injuries
Unfortunately, neck and back injuries are common injuries in car accidents, slip and falls, and other incidents. They can range in severity from sore muscles and bruises to total paralysis, from which the individual will never recover. Here are some of the most common types of neck and back injuries seen in injury accidents, including motor vehicle accident clients, sip and falls, workplace injuries, and other negligence-related incidents.
Whiplash is a common rear-end collision injury. This soft tissue neck injury happens when the neck experiences a forceful back-and-forth motion, mimicking the motion of a whip. Even if they wear a seat belt, motor vehicle accident victims can still have whiplash. Other injuries usually heal and improve over time. However, the problem with whiplash is that it can worsen before it gets better.
Those diagnosed with whiplash might experience:
- Extreme fatigue
- Decreased mobility of the neck
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Numbness and tingling in the arms
Although whiplash might sound minor because it is a soft tissue injury, it can still be quite painful and debilitating. Therefore, hiring an attorney who understands this is essential, as most insurance companies aggressively fight whiplash injury claims.
Muscle spasms can occur when the soft tissues of the back and neck randomly contract and release, typically leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness. Muscle spasms frequently indicate a more extensive muscle injury, such as a muscle sprain. These painful and sometimes debilitating spasms might last up to two weeks. If they continue longer than one month, a medical re-evaluation is necessary.
Vertebrae and discs that cushion them make up the spinal column, supporting the entire skeleton. Herniated discs can occur when sudden back-and-forth movements displace them. These discs have a jelly-like filling, and trauma can compress them, causing them to herniate away from the spinal column. The herniated disc creates pressure on the vertebrae and surrounding nerves, often causing sharp and sudden pain in the lower back or numbness and pain in the arms and legs.
Facet Joint Injury
The facet joints in the cervical spine assist with the stabilization and mobility of the head and neck. The forceful impact of a car collision or a slip and fall accident often inflames and irritates the neck’s facet joints. These forces can also injure surrounding ligaments, negatively impacting the neck joints’ movement and range of motion. In addition, facet joint injuries often result in immediate pain. They may also lead to a degenerative spinal disorder called facet joint syndrome, which can become debilitating if left untreated.
Fractured or Dislocated Vertebrae
Herniated discs can also pull vertebrae apart. If this happens, the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together can tear, allowing the bone to move. In some cases, the vertebrae will break. Fractured vertebrae can can pierce the spinal cord, resulting in either temporary or permanent paralysis. Neck fractures also produce terrible pain.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
By far, the most severe back injuries involve the spinal cord, not just because of the damage from the injuries alone but because they also leave victims at risk for other medical problems. For example, the spinal cord can suffer permanent damage, resulting in total or partial paralysis, loss of function and reflexes, or loss of feeling in different body parts. Other medical problems, such as bleeding or blood clots, pneumonia, and spinal fluid leaks, can happen after a spinal cord injury.
Do You Have a Neck or Back Injury Caused by Negligence? Call a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney Today
Back and neck injuries can be extremely painful and debilitating. Even something as simple as a pulled muscle or a slipped disc can leave a personal injury victim out of work for weeks and in substantial amounts of pain. If the injury involves damage to the spinal cord, they may experience temporary or permanent and life-changing paralysis.
Whiplash is also a common injury to the neck and upper spine in car accidents and even in falls, and it can cause months or years of pain and suffering.
Victims who sustain neck or back injuries due to someone else’s negligence need the representation of a seasoned personal injury attorney. Proving these injuries can be quite difficult. However, when you hire a lawyer, they already know the challenges you are up against and how to navigate them to obtain compensation for your injuries.