It’s not uncommon to experience back pain after a car accident, but what may seem like minor aches and pains may be a sign of a serious injury. Car accidents can damage the spine’s delicate network of soft tissues, connective ligaments, and nerves, leaving victims with life-altering injuries. If you’ve suffered a back injury because of someone else’s negligence, keep reading to learn about injuries and if you can get compensation after your car accident.
The Spine Is Vulnerable During a Traumatic Car Accident
The spine is divided into three regions: cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar (lower back). The most delicate areas are the neck and lower back. Injuries to the upper back are rare, as the ribs and other bones help immobilize this part of the spine, protecting the delicate nerves and soft tissues from damage. However, the neck and lower back absorb the brunt of the impact during a car accident, and without ribs to stabilize the bones of the spine, these areas can sustain serious injuries.
Generally speaking, the spine is made up of several components:
- Vertebral bodies: The bones that make up the spine, protect the spinal cord, and support your body.
- Spinal cord: The communication highway that sends messages from the brain to the other parts of your body.
- Nerves: Bundles of nerves branch off the spinal cord and into your limbs and other body parts.
- Discs: Doughnut-shaped shock absorbers that sit in between your vertebral bodies.
- Muscles and ligaments: Soft tissues that strengthen and support your spine.
Unfortunately, a car crash can impact multiple components in your spine. For example, you may experience fractures to your vertebral bodies, damage to your discs, and muscle swelling that puts pressure on your spinal nerves.
Common Types of Back Injuries after a Car Accident
Car accidents, however, “mild” can have devastating effects on the back and spine, which isn’t designed to absorb the impact of one vehicle crashing into another. When the unthinkable happens, there are a few common injuries that can happen as a result:
During a collision, forces can push the jelly-like inside of a disc through its fibrous exterior, resulting in a herniated or ruptured disc. The rupture can cause pinched nerves or put pressure on the spinal cord, causing pain and numbness in the back, neck, arms, or legs.
Whiplash occurs when the head and neck whip forward and back forcefully, causing damage to the soft tissues in the neck. Common symptoms include stiffness, headaches, numbness, and fatigue. It is one of the most common injuries after a car accident.
Back Sprains and Strains
A back sprain occurs when the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue stretch, and a strain is when these tissues tear. Persistent pain and muscle spasms are typical with back sprains and strains. While some mild sprains and strains heal in a matter of months, more serious soft tissue injuries can take a year or more to resolve.
Spondylolisthesis or Slipped Vertebra
Trauma can sometimes push your vertebrae out of alignment. When a vertebral body is pushed out of place, doctors call it a spondylolisthesis. While a mild slipped vertebra may be painless, a more severe slippage can cause chronic pain and require surgery.
The forces of a car collision sometimes break bones, including the vertebral bodies. Common fractures include compression fractures, broken spinous processes, and fracture-dislocations.
Degenerative Spinal Disorders
Age-related processes that cause chronic back pain can be made worse by a traumatic car accident.
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Signs Your Pain is an Undiagnosed Back Injury
After a car accident, adrenaline floods your brain. This hormone puts you on high alert and allows you to make decisions and react under traumatic circumstances. However, adrenaline can also mask feelings of pain and discomfort, which means many back injuries go undiagnosed after a traumatic car accident. In fact, it may take several days before you realize that you have a serious back injury.
If you’re experiencing pain in your limbs, tingling, numbness, or discomfort that won’t go away, see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will examine your back and may order imaging studies like x-rays and MRIs that can help identify the source of your pain.
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However, if you’re having difficulty walking or have bowel or bladder incontinence after a car accident, go immediately to the emergency room. You may have a serious condition, such as cauda equina syndrome, that requires immediate medical attention.
Back Injury Victims Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you make a claim to the insurance company seeking compensation for your back pain, you’ll need to speak with an insurance adjuster. This person works for the insurance company, and their job is to close your case as quickly and cheaply as possible. This may mean they use manipulative tactics to get you to agree to a low settlement.
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Before you agree to anything, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer. They can guide you through the insurance claim process, and help you understand what’s a fair settlement for your injuries. And if the adjuster tries to deny your claim because you had a preexisting condition or because it’s “only whiplash,” you’ll have someone on your side to fight back.
Depending on the nature of your claim, the at-fault driver and their insurance company may owe you compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. However, it can be difficult to accurately calculate back injury damages, since you may need ongoing treatment or multiple surgeries in the future.
When you work with an experienced injury lawyer, our lawyers can help you estimate your full range of damages. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we frequently consult with physicians, long-term care planners, and other experts before we make or respond to a settlement offer. To learn more about our detail-oriented approach to back injury cases, contact us today.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Demanding Justice for Alabama Car Accident Victims
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that people hurt by the negligence of others deserve justice. If you’re struggling with life-changing back pain after a car accident, you deserve resources, peace of mind, and space to heal. With decades of experience, our team of attorneys strives to get our clients the compensation they need after traumatic car accidents. Call 251-888-8888 today or contact us online for your free consultation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.