Neck injuries happen all the time. Whether they are caused by falls, work injuries, or car accidents, they can nonetheless result in serious complications. If another person’s negligence caused your accident, you have the right to pursue compensation through an experienced personal injury attorney for your medical bills and expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and disability.
What Is the Law in Texas?
Texas law allows you to hold the at-fault party responsible for the full cost of your injuries and other damages, regardless of how severe they are. Whether you are pursuing an insurance claim or personal injury claim, it is important to determine who was at fault for your accident and injuries. The question of fault depends on the circumstances of your case, and there may be more than one person or entity at fault.
Negligence is the basis for the large majority of injury claims. Negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” To prevail in a personal injury case, you must establish the four elements of negligence. For example, in a car accident case, the injured person must show:
- The driver had an obligation to follow traffic laws and drive in a manner that did not endanger others;
- The driver failed to drive in a responsible, careful, and reasonable way;
- This failure caused the crash, and your neck injuries; and
- You suffered physical and financial damages because of the wreck.
Evidence must be carefully collected and preserved. It proves that the other party was negligent, and therefore, liable. Again, in the case of a car accident, evidence might include:
- The police report from the officers who responded to the crash;
- Evidence of any citations issued to the other driver;
- Documentation of the scene, either by you or a survey team;
- An examination of all the cars involved in the crash;
- The findings of an accident reconstruction specialist;
- Testimony from any witnesses; and
- Your medical records and other supporting documentation.
These basic concepts apply to other types of personal injury accidents.
Time Limits for Filing a Neck Injury Lawsuit in Texas
Texas, like all states, has time limits for filing personal injury lawsuits. The Texas statute of limitations provides that you must file a personal injury case within two years from the date your injuries occurred.
Why Are Neck Injuries so Important?
Your neck is an extension of the spine. It consists of several parts. These work together so that your body functions as it should. They include:
- The cervical spine, which includes several bones and joints.
- The spinal column contains seven fluid-filled cervical discs, and 23 total discs. These separate the cervical vertebrae and act as shock absorbers.
- Muscles and ligaments
Most parts of your spinal column are surrounded and supported by strong muscles; your neck has less to protect it. Consequently, it absorbs much of the force of an injury.
When you are involved in an accident, whether it is a car accident, a slip, and fall, or a workplace accident, you can easily damage your neck. You might damage the vertebrae or break bones. You might damage the discs that cushion the bones, or you could injure the muscles or ligaments. Your symptoms and the severity of the damage may depend on what part of the neck is injured and how badly it is damaged. Some of the possible neck injuries that you might experience as the result of an accident include:
- Neck sprains – Usually in a neck sprain, the ligaments are stretched or torn, leaving you with pain and stiffness.
- Neck strains – These are another form of soft-tissue injury and are commonly known as whiplash. Neck strains happen when the muscles are torn or stretched, instead of the ligaments.
- Broken vertebrae and bones – The vertebrae in the neck protect your spine. Therefore, a broken neck is very serious and can lead to paralysis.
- Disc injuries – Discs are like shock absorbers for your spine. A slipped, or ruptured disc is often extremely painful.
- Pinched nerves – Damaged discs or pressure from bone can damage the nerves in your neck, causing muscle weakness, numbness, and pain.
- Damage to your trachea or larynx – Both of these are at the front of your neck. Blunt-force trauma from an accident can damage them.
Whiplash losses amount to approximately $30 billion each year in the United States. We often associate whiplash with car accidents, but contact sports falls, blows to the head with a heavy object, and other accidents also cause whiplash. Whiplash happens when someone is forcibly hurtled forward or backward so that the neck is extended or flexed in an unnatural position. This is not good for the neck, and as a result, various parts of the neck can be damaged. Symptoms can range from mild to seriously impairing, including:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck and/or shoulders
- Arm weakness or discomfort
- Jaw pain
- Visual disturbances and other eye problems
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Back pain.
- Anxiety, depression, or other psychological symptoms.
Accidents can result in injury to any part of your body, but the neck is particularly vulnerable. Some back and neck injuries will affect your life temporarily. However, other injuries may leave you permanently disabled. It is important to know that your symptoms may not show up until several days or weeks after the accident, so you should always seek medical treatment. Your damages in a personal injury case for neck injuries may include the costs of current and future medical treatment, including physical therapy, surgery, and rehabilitation, lost income due to an inability to work, either temporarily or permanently, and the loss of enjoyment of life, such as your ability to engage in sports or other routine activities. Medical records and testimony from medical experts are vital in proving damages.
If you have suffered a neck injury in an accident, do not ignore the pain. Speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can investigate your case and advise you of your legal options.