If you’ve been in a car accident, chances are you’re stiff, sore, and maybe even seriously injured. Even in a low-speed collision, our bodies were not made to absorb the shock of a car accident, and our backs and necks can suffer greatly.
If you have a back injury resulting from a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. At Nonni Homola, our Tallahassee, Florida auto accident attorneys can help you navigate your claim and maximize your compensation.
Types of Car Accident Back Injuries
Back injuries are one of the most common car accident injuries. If you’ve suffered a back injury from a car accident, symptoms may not be immediately apparent as the adrenaline in our bodies after a wreck may mask the pain.
Being mindful of your pain and understanding the different types of back injuries associated with car accidents will help you find the proper treatment and help your legal representative determine how much compensation you may be entitled to.
If you were in a rear-end collision, there is a good chance you suffered whiplash. Whiplash is a forceful bend of the neck forward and then backward, or vice versa.
It can impact the soft tissues in your neck, causing the following symptoms:
- Neck pain and stiffness;
- Shoulder pain and stiffness;
- Numbness in the arm or hand;
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus);
- Blurry vision;
- Memory problems, difficulty in concentration, or irritability; and
- Fatigue or excessive sleepiness.
Most people with whiplash get better within a few weeks. However, some people may have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications.
Sprain or Strain
Like any other body part, your neck and back are susceptible to soft tissue injuries like a sprain or strain. Often, these two terms are used interchangeably, but in fact, they have distinct meanings.
A sprain is actual damage to the ligaments, while a strain is a stretching of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two conditions without a confirmed medical diagnosis because they have similar symptoms, like swelling, bruising, limited range of motion, and tenderness.
The back is divided into three separate areas along the spine: cervical (neck and upper back), thoracic (upper and mid-back), and lumbar (mid to low back). Each area of the spine houses discs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. If you sustained a back injury from a car accident, any of these parts may have been affected and can cause varying degrees of pain.
Symptoms for back injuries tend to be similar for each area and include:
- Limited range of motion,
- Muscle weakness, and
- Muscle spasms.
It is important to note whether the pain is accompanied by numbness, tingling, and radiating weakness into your arms or legs. These symptoms could signify nerve damage and, without treatment, could lead to permanent nerve or limb damage.
Spinal Cord Injury
An injury to the spinal cord is the most serious back injury. If you sustained a spinal cord injury, you would have immediate symptoms—damage to any part of the spinal cord results in weakness, changes in sensation, and even paralysis. Spinal cord injuries often lead to other problems involving the digestive system (urinary or bowel incontinence) and circulatory system (blood clots).
Apart from soft tissue, bone, or spinal cord injuries, car accidents may also cause damage to the discs of the back. Discs are the cushions that separate each vertebra. A herniated disc occurs when a disc is out of place.
An out-of-place disc will put pressure on the spinal cord and its surrounding nerves, causing sudden and intense pain in the lower region of the back. If left untreated, a person can experience numbness in the legs.
Getting Compensation for a Back Injury After an Auto Accident
In addition to the common back injuries from car accidents discussed above, other injuries, including cervical spine damage, bulging discs, compression fractures, and sciatica, may make it difficult to recover fully.
Rehabilitation from a back injury may take months or years and require ongoing, expensive chiropractic, physical therapy, or medical care. In the long run, you may even be susceptible to degenerative changes in your back, leading to arthritis.
Typical compensation for a back injury covers an injured person’s economic and non-economic losses, also known as damages.
Damages can include:
- Past and future medical bills,
- Lost income,
- Future lost earnings (diminished earning capacity),
- Pain and suffering (including emotional distress), and
- Loss of consortium or companionship.
It is vital to keep track of your medical bills and ongoing treatment to substantiate your case and ensure your damages are fully accounted for. It might also be helpful to keep a symptom journal and to make a note whenever your symptoms interfere with your day-to-day life.
Contact an Experienced Florida Accident Attorney For Help
Nonni Homola has over 40 years of combined experience handling all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases.