Neck Injuries After a Car Accident
An accident can cause serious and debilitating injuries to the delicate tendons, muscles, and tissues in the neck. This can result in a lifetime of pain, suffering, and limited mobility. In some cases, an accident victim can suffer permanent disability, such as paralysis or nerve pain. Neck injuries are some of the most serious and debilitating injuries an accident survivor can face.
However, they are also some of the most scrutinized injuries. Insurance companies and their adjusters are skeptical of many neck injuries and of the long-term effects many accident survivors endure.
Even with swift medical treatment, neck injuries often result in chronic disability. These injuries may require months and even years of surgeries, physical therapies, and medications to treat. Even then, accident survivors may never obtain the full range of motion in their neck.
Due to the long-term complications many injured victims face, speak to an experienced car accident attorney immediately. Neck injuries often require more compensation than many accident survivors realize. An experienced Corpus Christi car accident lawyer can ensure that you receive the money you need to fully recover from your neck injury or handle whatever the future brings.
Types of Neck Injuries
Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability in the United States. At any given moment, up to 20 percent of the population suffers from neck pain. A neck injury is one of the most common types of injuries suffered in car accidents.
The complex mechanism of the neck makes it easy to suffer injuries during a crash. The neck itself contains seven cervical vertebrae, as well as the delicate spinal cord, discs, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It also contains the larynx, or voice box, the esophagus, and the trachea. When an injury occurs to the neck, pain can radiate down the arms, shoulders, back, and spine. Pain can also radiate to the head and ears. In addition, a neck injury can make it difficult to swallow, breathe, and talk.
There are many different types of neck injuries. However, some neck injuries are more common than others. Some of the most common neck injuries include whiplash, neck fractures, and disc and nerve injuries.
In the United States, studies revealed that 90 percent of all injuries in rear-end accidents are neck injuries. One of the most common neck injuries is whiplash. In fact, more than two million Americans suffer from whiplash every year.
Whiplash is not a medical term. It is a term used to describe a combination of symptoms that result after the neck experiences trauma. It can affect nerves, soft tissues, and bones in the neck. It most often occurs after a rear-end accident.
During a crash, the forces of the accident may cause the head and neck to whip violently back and forth. This whip-like motion can damage the structures in the neck and cause serious injury. Over-stretching joints, muscles, and ligaments can result in pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion. Over time, this can result in a chronic condition.
Some of the symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain that increases with movement
- Neck stiffness
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Pain in the back or upper extremities
- Tingling or numbness in the arms and fingertips
Some people also have:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble sleeping
- Anger or mood changes
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Depression and anxiety
The majority of whiplash survivors will suffer for months. However, they typically recover fully with the right treatment and medication. Yet, for unknown reasons, up to 25 percent will suffer from long-term pain and disability after a whiplash injury. This chronic condition damages their overall quality of life and prevents them from maintaining gainful employment.
Neck Fractures and Paralysis
Neck fractures are often life-threatening. When the delicate cervical vertebrae break, they can put pressure on the spinal cord. In some cases, they can even sever the spinal cord. The result is often life-threatening because the nerves that run through the cervical portion of the spine control breathing. Individuals with cervical fractures may suffer from partial or complete paralysis in all four extremities. Another name for this type of paralysis is quadriplegia.
Signs of a neck fracture include:
- Severe pain
- Loss of sensation in extremities
- Muscle weakness or paralysis in arms and legs
- Difficulty breathing
Those who survive cervical fractures may need permanent medical care, equipment, and rehabilitation. They may also face secondary complications, such as pressure ulcers, deep venous thrombosis, and infection. As such, car accident survivors who suffer from neck fractures may need a significant amount of compensation to rebuild their lives. If they suffer from permanent or partial paralysis, they may need money to pay for medical care throughout their lives. According to the Reeves Foundation, the average estimate for the cost of complete quadriplegia for the first year alone is over $1.6 million.
Nerve and Disc Injury
Sometimes the forces of an accident can cause trauma to the nerves and discs in the neck. The soft cushioning disc located between the vertebrae may slip or bulge out of place after an accident. When this occurs, it can cause inflammation that puts pressure on the nerves in the neck. A herniated disc occurs when the other layer of the disc itself ruptures, causing the contents to come out of the disc. This also results in extreme pain and loss of mobility.
A slipped disc or bulging disc is a painful and debilitating neck injury. It can cause shoulder, neck or arm tingling, pain, and weakness. It can even cause debilitating headaches. Many accident survivors with nerve or disc injuries are unable to move well without suffering. This prevents them from working and enjoying their life.
Nerve and disc trauma can take weeks and even months to resolve. Medical expenses are often high and rehabilitation, as well as medications, are often needed to help it heal. In some cases, an accident survivor may need to undergo neck surgery, such as an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, to help alleviate the pain.
Causes of Neck Injuries
There are many different causes of neck injuries. Neck pain can stem from a variety of accidents and issues, including car accidents and illnesses Neck pain is also the result of on-the-job injuries and lifestyle choices.
However, some of the most common causes of neck injuries include:
- Car accidents—especially rear-end accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Illnesses and diseases
- Work injuries
- Obesity and inactivity
- Lifting heavy objects
- Sports accidents
You cannot prevent all neck injuries from occurring. However, when another person or entity’s negligence caused your neck injury, you have a right to seek compensation for that injury and the damages you suffered.
Treatment for Neck Injuries
The treatment plan for a neck injury varies depending on the type and severity of the injury. For example, a person suffering from whiplash may receive medication and need to undergo physical therapy. In comparison, a person suffering from a herniated disc may need to undergo surgery and receive cortisone injections.
Due to the extensive treatment possibilities, it is best to have a medical professional conduct a complete and thorough physical examination to develop your treatment plan. Since neck injuries are severe and can result in permanent disability, accident survivors should always seek a second opinion.
Medical specialists can develop the appropriate treatment plan for your neck injury.
That plan may include a combination of treatments, including:
- Pain medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Physical therapy
- Short-term immobilization with a neck collar
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
Treatment for neck injuries is expensive, even if you have health insurance. The direct cost of cervical fusion surgery is over $100,000. That does not take into account lost wages and other expenses. Hospital stays can easily add up as well, even if you do not undergo surgery. The average hospital stay costs $15,734. These costs can add a significant financial burden to already struggling families.
Filing a Neck Injury Lawsuit
After an accident, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to recover the money you need. This is not always your only legal option, however. So it is best to talk with an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer before taking any legal action. Your lawyer can examine the details of your case and help you determine the best legal options for you.
Make no mistake, insurance companies are not eager to pay out maximum compensation. As such, they often work tirelessly to reduce their liabilities and pay you as little as possible. They are also skeptical of many neck injuries, especially whiplash. Soft tissue injuries are often difficult to prove and require extensive testing, as well as medical evaluation. They do not show up on MRIs and X-Rays the same way other traumatic injuries do. This means that insurance companies do not receive the same hard evidence.
As a result, insurance adjusters may deny neck injury claims, even when the injuries are valid. They may also have firm dollar figures that rarely budge, even when injured survivors suffer more serious neck injuries.
To combat insurance company skepticism, your lawyer will need to build a solid case to help you obtain the money you need to pay for your expenses now—and in the future. Any settlement you accept should take into account any possible future complications or issues.
Negotiating with the insurance company is not easy on your own. That is why most injured accident survivors find success working with an experienced law firm. Your lawyer will begin investigating all aspects of your accident and your injury to help you determine how much money you truly need.
This often involves:
- Examining police report
- Reviewing medical records
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Talking with medical experts
- Hiring accident recreation teams
- Working with forensic specialists
Steps to Take After a Neck Injury
There are steps you can take after a neck injury to help your attorney build your case.
By working with your attorney after your accident, you help improve your chances of obtaining the money you deserve.
- Obtain copies of the police report
- Attend all medical appointments promptly
- Fill all prescription medications
- Attend therapy sessions
- Follow the treatment plan
- Gain copies of your medical records
- Seek a second opinion
- Avoid posting on social media
- Do not get the car repaired quickly
- Take pictures and document crash site, damage, and injuries
While it may seem counterintuitive to avoid getting your car repaired, the crash damage can help your case. Before you get your car repaired, be sure to speak to your lawyer. Valuable evidence is often lost after a vehicle gets repaired. As such, avoid getting your car repaired too quickly.
You will need to document the crash and your injuries. However, avoid posting this information to social media. Social media is a great way to keep up with friends and family, but it can seriously derail your injury case. Avoid social media altogether and speak with your attorney before making any online statements about the accident or your injuries. These statements, though well-intended, can jeopardize your personal injury case.
By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can achieve significantly more compensation for your injuries and the damages you suffered. After a car accident, you need someone on your side to help you fight the insurance companies. Insurance companies have large teams of adjusters helping them reduce their payouts. That is why you need a team on your side that has your best interests at heart. A Corpus Christi personal injury accident lawyer in your area can help you through the legal process after you suffered a neck injury. For more information about how we can help you please contact us today or call us at (361) 400-2036.