As anyone who has ever dealt with a back injury knows, even a minor injury can be a major disruption to everyday life. Unfortunately, back injuries are one of the most common car accident injuries, and in many cases, they carry severe consequences that can last for months, years or even a lifetime. That’s why it is important to speak with your doctors and a personal injury lawyer to understand your options for physical and financial recovery after a serious accident.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A back injury can take many forms, and can vary in severity depending on the nature of the accident. One of the most severe types of injury occurs when the spinal cord itself is damaged in a motor vehicle accident. An injury that damages the spinal cord disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate with the body, and can cause paralysis and numbness in part or all of the body.
Symptoms usually occur in the parts of the body that are lower than the point of injury on the spinal cord. This means that an injury involving the lower spine will most likely affect the legs only, while a neck injury or upper back injury involving the spinal cord can cause paralysis and numbness in the arms as well as the legs.
Another common injury among car accident victims is called a slipped disc. This type of back injury is also known as a herniated disc or ruptured disc. The spinal discs are spongy cushions that separate the bones of the spine and protect them from one another. They also help protect the spinal cord and make the back flexible.
A disc may become broken or deformed as a result of a car accident. Damaged discs lose their ability to protect the bones and nerves of the spine, leading to pain, numbness or tingling in any part of the body to which an affected nerve travels.
Disc injuries to the lower back are often associated with a condition called sciatica, which can cause severe and debilitating pain, tingling or numbness in either leg.
Compression fractures are another type of injury that can result from a car accident, particularly among older adults. A compression fracture occurs when tiny cracks appear in the vertebrae, which can eventually cause the bone itself to lose its shape or collapse.
A compression fracture can cause permanent changes to the shape and structure of the spine. As a result, this type of back injury can lead to posture changes as well as pain and breathing difficulties.
The Financial Consequences
The financial consequences of a back injury can be severe. These injuries frequently require expensive medical care, often including hospitalization, rehabilitation and ongoing follow-up care. At the same time, a back injury is likely to interfere with the injured person’s ability to work, and they may suffer lost income as a result.
In addition, a person who has suffered a back injury may face additional expenses as a result of having to hire someone to perform ordinary household tasks like yard work or laundry, which he or she otherwise would have done.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you have suffered a back injury from a car accident, you have the option of seeking compensation in court from the person who caused the accident. If you decide to go to court, a personal injury lawyer can advocate on your behalf and help you seek damages.
If your back injury lawsuit is successful, the court will most likely grant you compensatory damages. This is a dollar amount that is calculated to reimburse you for your out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and your non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
In certain cases, punitive damages may be available in addition to compensatory damages. In a back injury lawsuit, these damages are usually limited to cases where the person who caused the accident was acting recklessly or irresponsibly.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible
If you or someone you love has suffered a back injury as a result of an accident, it is important to talk with a personal injury attorney right away. There is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in most states, which means that you usually must file a lawsuit within two years after the day that your back injury occurred or the date that you noticed your back injury.
While a financial settlement may never fully make up for a serious back injury, it can help provide the tools you need to start your recovery. A personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether a personal injury lawsuit may be right for you, and can fight to help you receive compensation for your back injury.