In any car accident, the best-case scenario is that every part is able to walk away with minor or no injuries, but sometimes they are unavoidable. Some of the most common injuries are back and neck injuries, which often appear in the hours and days after the original impact. These injuries can be serious and have an impact on any legal proceedings that occur, but it is hard to know what a back injury from a car accident means in terms of settlements. While there is no single answer, there are a number of factors that can help determine the amount a back injury is worth.
Common Back and Neck Injuries After Accidents
The spine is strong, but it is also a complex and delicate system that can easily be injured by the impact involved in a car accident. Not only can the vertebrae themselves be affected, but the surrounding discs, ligaments, and muscles can also be injured. Below is a list of some of the most common back injuries from car accidents, though each person is different and many other conditions can arise.
Herniated or Bulging Discs
Between the vertebrae are small discs, made of a jelly-like cushiony material designed to protect the spine and spinal cord. During the sudden impact of a car accident, one or more of these discs can be moved, leading them to become displaced or herniated. This places pressure on the surrounding nerves and can cause intense lower back pain and numbness in the legs.
Compression fractures are very common in the lower and middle back after a car accident. This is because the upper part of the torso may be jerked forward while the lower body is held in place by a seatbelt. When this happens, the vertebrae can be pulled apart and lead to a spinal fracture. This often causes back pain that worsens with motion.
Soft Tissue Damage
When the ligaments and tendons surrounding the spine are stretched beyond their normal capacity, they can tear or sprain in what is known as whiplash. In severe cases, nerve endings can suffer damage as a result of this. Most people experience mild to severe pain in the area where damage occurred.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most severe form of back injury from a car accident involves the spinal cord, where intense damage can cause paralysis, loss of reflexes, or loss of feeling in certain body parts. People with severe spinal cord injuries can also be left susceptible to infections, pneumonia, and a range of other issues.
What Kind of Compensation Will I Get?
With any car accident settlement, there are both economic and non-economic compensatory damages that can be paid out in the case of a serious injury, including a back injury.
Also known as “special damages,” economic compensatory damages are payments that reimburse direct financial losses resulting from a car accident. The bulk of this is usually made up of medical bills, both past and future, that have been incurred in treating a back injury. The amount can vary depending on the severity of the problem and how long care will be needed. Lost wages and income can also be included, as well as a predicted loss of earning capacity in the future. These will be calculated as a part of your legal proceedings.
In addition, you can also receive “general damages” which relate to non-monetary losses. It can be difficult to determine the monetary value for things like pain and suffering or emotional distress, but with proper documentation, settlements can be awarded for these. Another form of non-economic compensation is for loss of consortium, in which your spouse or children can be awarded a settlement for a loss of normal relationships as a result of paralysis or other serious injuries.
Depending on the severity and impact of your injury, settlements can range from just enough to cover costs to six or even seven figures.
Medical and Legal Assistance Are Equally Important
Proper legal representation will be a large part of helping you to secure a fair settlement and prove the impact your injury has had on your life. However, one of the things they will rely on when advocating for you is proper and trustworthy documentation of your medical issues. The sooner you visit a car accident doctor, the sooner you will be able to identify issues and begin properly treating them, and this proactive approach shows that you were concerned about a back injury from the car accident.
At AICA Orthopedics, a team of multidisciplinary specialists can perform the initial examinations needed, create individualized care plans, and provide comprehensive records of your condition. Call us today to begin your healing process!