Each year more than 6 million car accidents take place in the United States. In one year, in San Antonio alone, 608 crashes resulted in serious injury. Car accidents are a leading cause of trauma. Approximately 10 percent of all car accident victims suffer lifelong debilitating pain. Commonly, the impact of a car crash causes serious neck and back injuries. Neck and back injuries can be catastrophic. Injury victims may be left with long-term disability and expensive medical bills.
Back and neck injuries are particularly risky because there may be no immediate signs of harm. Symptoms may not appear until hours or even days after the accident. By that time, complications may have developed, so seek prompt medical treatment.
Common Neck and Back Injuries
Car accident victims often suffer from whiplash, which affects over one million people in the U.S. each year. A combination of hyperflexion and hyperextension causes whiplash. In fact, any forceful impact that causes the head to snap forward and backward can cause whiplash. Most commonly, whiplash is associated with rear-end collisions. Whiplash symptoms may last for years and often include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Arm pain
- Decreased muscle strength
- Dizziness or fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Abnormal reflexes
- Difficulty with sleeping, memory, or concentration
- Mood swings
The back consists of muscles, tissues, ligaments, tendons, vertebrae, discs, and bones. Back injuries may involve many of these components. Some of the most common types of back injuries from car accidents include:
- Lumbar or thoracic vertebrae fractures – The lumbar vertebrae are in the lower section of the spine. The thoracic vertebrae are in the middle section of the spine. Both are subject to flexion, extension, and rotation fractures.
- Back strains and sprains – Force or pressure can cause damage to the soft tissues in the back. When these tissues stretch too far, you may experience pain and mobility problems.
- Herniated discs – Discs cushion the vertebrae. Physical trauma during a car accident can cause the discs to move out of place or break open. Damaged discs induce pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord.
- Compression fractures – A small break in the bones of the spine is known as a compression fracture. Compression fractures can be very serious, potentially causing the vertebrae to collapse.
- Spinal stenosis – Trauma from a car accident may cause your spinal canal to narrow.
Recovering From Back and Neck Injuries
If you experience severe neck pain following a motor vehicle accident, you should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Back and neck injuries can cause chronic pain and restrict your mobility. Victims suffering injuries in a car accident may be entitled to recover compensation for physical therapy, a cervical collar or brace, and pain control.
How Is Compensation for an Injury Determined?
Because every personal injury case is unique, it is difficult to estimate the amount of compensation that may be recovered. Prompt diagnosis and treatment may significantly improve your chances of a full recovery. Obtaining proper medical care is important. The responsible party cannot claim the extent of your injuries is due to your failure to obtain proper medical care.
The costs of current medical bills and reimbursement for lost wages are relatively easy to calculate. On the other hand, it is more difficult to estimate the costs of lost wages and future medical bills. Many factors will determine the total amount of compensation you are entitled to. An injury victim should consult a personal injury attorney to assess the amount a jury could potentially award. An experienced Texas personal injury attorney may also be able to anticipate the courts’ potential verdicts and settlements. Ideally, the amount of your settlement should allow you to regain the quality of life you had before the accident.
When determining an appropriate settlement amount, consider these factors:
- What type of back or neck injury did the victim suffer?
- How severe is the back or neck injury?
- How long will the injury last, and what is the likelihood of recovery?
- How will the injury affect your quality of life?
- How likely is it that a jury will find the other driver liable?
Seeking a Car Accident Concussion Settlement
Texas is a fault car insurance state, which means you have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Generally, severe and permanent injuries will result in greater compensation awards. It is important to establish exactly how the injury has harmed you financially and impacted your quality of life. For example, your injuries may require assistance for personal needs or household accommodations. To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, carefully document all of the consequences of your injury.
Generally, damages are classified as general damages and special damages. Special damages refer to the financial losses directly attributable to the accident. Special damages may include:
- Medical expenses—so keep records for every medical treatment you receive, your total costs, and your medications.
- Costs of home care, or domestic services in the event of serious injury.
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
- Costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged property.
General damages refer to non-economic losses directly attributable to the accident. General damages estimate the monetary value of a victim’s reduced quality of life. General damages may include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of companionship/consortium, and
- Psychological and emotional distress.
Punitive damages are the most difficult damages to claim when seeking a settlement. When awarded, punitive damages are paid in addition to general and special damages. When an injury results from “malicious, outrageous, or grossly negligent conduct,” the responsible party needs to pay punitive damages. The damages are intended to deter similar conduct in the future.
How Your Attorney Can Help You Obtain a Fair Settlement
The impacts of serious neck and back injuries can be far-reaching and expensive. Because each case is unique, estimating an average settlement amount is impractical. Advice from a skilled, compassionate legal professional can help you understand your legal options. In addition, an attorney will work to build a convincing case, so you may obtain the best possible outcome.