- September 16, 2022
- Strong Law
- Car Accidents
You May be Entitled to Compensation for Spinal Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe, life-changing, and devastating injuries a person can suffer, and they can easily occur from the forces involved in a car crash. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), of the 17,730 new spinal cord injuries that occur each year in the United States, almost 40% are the result of car accidents. The spinal cord contains the major bundle of nerves that carries impulses from the brain to the rest of the body, so injury to the spinal cord can result in loss of function and partial or total paralysis. Victims may be left dealing with mounting medical and rehabilitation bills at a time when they are unable to work and need continued care.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal injury in one of the many crashes on Washington State roadways, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. However, personal injury laws in Washington are complicated, not every spinal injury is apparent right away, and insurance companies are out for profit and will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible.
For these reasons, once you get medical attention and report the accident to your insurance company, you should contact a car accident attorney Strong Law to make sure your case is handled correctly, and your settlement covers all your losses and the care you may need into the future. Call us today at 206-741-1053.
How Car Accidents Can Cause Spinal Injuries
The spinal cord is a complex organ through which sensory information is relayed between the body and the brain. The spinal cord is surrounded by rings of bone known as vertebrae, and this makes up the spinal column.
In a car accident, the force of impact can propel an accident victim forward, and they may strike another surface, such as a steering wheel, windshield, or pavement if thrown from the vehicle. The force and trauma can cause a sudden blow to the spine which may then move beyond its normal range of motion. Vertebrae can fracture and discs can become herniated or dislocated, putting pressure on, or piercing the spinal cord and damaging sensitive nerve tissues. The accident can also cause victims to suffer from whiplash, where the head is violently jolted back and forth, or they may hit their head and suffer head and neck injuries that may also cause the spinal column to compress and be damaged. Once the spinal cord is damaged, the effects on the body may be severe.
Common Spine Injuries from Car Accidents
The spinal cord, brain, and spinal nerves form the central nervous system (CNS), and a spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when any part of the spinal cord is damaged. Injuries to the spinal cord can cause damage to the nerves and interfere with the transmission of information between the brain and body parts. A spinal injury from a car accident can damage the CNS and interrupt the nerve flow necessary for motor function and sensory skills. The effects on the body vary depending on the area where the spinal cord is damaged, and damage to the spinal cord can cause victims to lose all or some of their ability to control movement and feeling below the injury site.
A spinal injury that causes loss of mobility or sensation is called paralysis. The severity of paralysis is referred to as “the completeness” of the injury and is classified as either incomplete or complete. The injury is incomplete if the victim has some sensory or motor function below the point of injury and complete if all sensory and motor functions are lost.
Paralysis from a spinal cord injury can also be referred to as paraplegia or quadriplegia:
- Paraplegia commonly occurs when the injury is lower in the back, and all or parts of the legs, trunk, and pelvic organs are affected by the injury.
- Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, is common when the injury occurs higher in the back, such as in the cervical spine or the top of the neck. When it occurs, all or parts of the arms, hands, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs are affected. Tetraplegia eliminates the ability to move below the site of the injury. The paralysis will affect all four limbs, and all or parts of the arms, hands, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs are affected.
Common types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Fractured Vertebrae: A vertebral fracture is a partial or complete break in one of the small triangular bones that make up the spine. The blunt force trauma of a crash can cause small cracks in the bone’s surface, called hairline fractures, or completely shatter the bone. There are 33 vertebrae in the spine and breaks in any area can pinch or compress the spinal cord, causing damage.
- Herniated or ruptured or bulging discs:The discs are cushions between the vertebrae, and each disc has a soft, jelly-like interior and hard exterior. These discs can be torn in an accident or bulge when whiplash causes the neck to toss quickly forward and back. A herniated disc, or ruptured disc, occurs when the pressure of an outside force causes a crack in the disc’s exterior that allows the interior liquid to leak into the spinal canal. This results in swelling and pressure on surrounding nerves and nerve roots and can cause numbness, tingling, or shooting pain.
- Whiplash: Also known as a neck sprain, whiplash occurs when the force of the car accident thrusts the head and neck forward and backward. This is a neck injury that impacts facet joints and soft tissue as the motion stretches and tears the structures in the cervical spine, connective tissue, and ligaments.
- Pinched nerves: This may occur when swelling or other damage from a car accident caused the tissue surrounding a nerve to press on the nerve. The pressure can disrupt the nerve’s function and cause it to send pain signals to the brain.
- Spinal Stenosis:Spinal stenosis happens when damage from a car accident causes the spaces in the spinal canal to begin to narrow, placing pressure on the spinal column and the nerves.
- Spondylolysis:This is a term for degenerative conditions in the spine that may be brought on by injury in a car crash.
What Spinal Injuries Can You Get from a Car Crash?
Spinal injuries caused by car crashes can be life-changing and may worsen and cause more serious problems over weeks, months, or years because of damage to the surrounding tissue. Therefore, it is so important to recognize signs that you may have received a spine injury and seek medical care after a car accident. Lack of treatment can cause injuries to become more severe.
Some of the many symptoms of spinal cord injuries include:
- Loss of sensation, movement, and feeling, typically in the extremities
- Numbness, tingling, pain, or intense stinging
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Coughing and trouble breathing.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Back or neck pain and stiffness
- Dizziness or confusion
- Headache at the base of the skull
- Weakness or paralysis anywhere in the body.
The spinal cord, like other parts of the nervous system, is complex and difficult to repair when damaged by the trauma of a car accident. Symptoms require medical attention, no matter when they develop. Your doctor should review the facts of the car accident, then order a variety of tests such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and evoked potential testing. All symptoms should be documented.
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries from Car Accidents
Spinal injuries are not only painful and life-changing, but they are also very expensive. Victims of car accidents that were caused by another party’s negligence or fault are entitled to compensation that includes coverage for their monetary losses such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of future income, costs of modifying a home or vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair, and household medical care. In addition, you may also receive compensation for damages that are not monetary, such as pain and suffering and emotional anguish and anxiety from dealing with the aftermath of your spinal injury.
No one should be put in financial peril because of someone else’s negligence. If you have suffered a spinal injury from a car accident, rather than attempt to negotiate with an insurance company and try to get compensation on your own, let an attorney committed to getting the maximum possible compensation advocate on your behalf.
The skilled and experienced car accident lawyers at Strong law are fully prepared to help you get compensation for your injuries and losses through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. We know the complexities of Washington law, the courts, the system, and how to deal with the insurance companies and their attorneys for a fair settlement.
Remember, insurance companies are out for profit and will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible, and once you accept their offer, you will not be able to receive anything additional, even if your injuries worsen in the future.
We are aware of the tactics they use and know how to negotiate on your behalf and advocate for you in court if a trial is necessary. Our team of car accident lawyers will take care of all legal hurdles and requirements necessary to win your case while you work to restore your physical health.
The attorneys at Strong Law can be reached at 206-741-1053. Give us a call so we can answer your questions and start working for you today.