If You Have Neck, Back, or Spine Damage Caused by a Vehicle or Work-Related Accident, You’re Entitled to Compensation
Accidents involving the neck, back, and spine can lead to devastating injuries. Whether the injury occurs in the workplace or during a vehicle accident, it can have a big impact on the victim’s ability to work and his quality of life.
Acute and Chronic Injuries
Neck and back pain can either be acute (temporary, coming on quickly, then lessening within a few weeks) or chronic (lasting over six weeks, and sometimes even years). The damage done isn’t always immediately obvious, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Common Types of Injuries
Sprains and Strains
Accidents often lead to sprains and strains, including whiplash. Whiplash most frequently occurs during a car crash. This common neck injury is caused by an aggressive and sudden back and forth motion of the head. The tremendous strain placed on neck ligaments and muscles can lead to bulging discs within the cervical spine (the neck). This causes all sorts of problems, including chronic pain, muscular stiffness, and headaches. The symptoms of whiplash are frequently delayed, and loss of feeling in the arms and hands (as a result of damage to the neck or spinal column) is a classic indicator of whiplash injury.
Sprain and strain injuries are frequently accompanied by tears, separations, and fractures of the shoulder. The clavicle (collar bone), humeral head, and scapula (shoulder blade) are particularly vulnerable to fractures. The clavicle and sternum (breastbone) connect to form the sternoclavicular joint, which may be dislocated. These injuries may require X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs for proper diagnosis.
Spinal Column and Vertebral Injuries
A herniated (or ruptured, or slipped) disc occurs when the tender interior portion of the disc’s cartilage breaks through the disc’s harder exterior, extending into the spinal canal. This creates nerve irritation, pain, tingling, and numbness, which radiates into the arms and legs. Herniated discs may lead to sciatica, whereby pain radiates down the long sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back into the lower legs. Vertebrae can be broken by compression fractures, allowing the spine to compress.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, occurring most frequently in the cervical (neck) or lumbar (lower) regions of the back. This narrowing causes compression of the nerve roots in lumbar stenosis, or the spinal cord in cervical stenosis, with the latter being especially dangerous. Common symptoms of stenosis include pain in the back, shoulders, arms, and hands, with pain and numbness radiating into the buttocks and legs.
Spinal Cord Damage
Spinal cord injuries are sudden and irreversible. Sideways pressure on the head and neck can lead to contortion of the spine, and the force of impact may cause significant bruising or tearing of the spinal cord. Damage to the spinal cord is frequently categorized as either a “complete” or “incomplete” injury. Complete spinal injuries are ones in which there is typically no muscle control or sensation below the injured portion of the spine, and no function or feeling in the tailbone area. These injuries are typically permanent. Incomplete injuries involve partial paralysis, reduced sensation, or weakened muscles. Through medical intervention and rehab, it may be possible to recover 50% or more of original functionality.
In addition to the paralysis of limbs, victims are vulnerable to infections, pneumonia, and other health complications due to the atrophy of muscles and loss of bone mass. Spinal cord damage is frequently accompanied by rib and torso injuries, including broken or fractured ribs and soft-tissue damage. When consecutive ribs fracture, this is considered a flail chest injury, and it can lead to pulmonary contusions, or bruises on the lungs. Victims experiencing this type of injury should seek medical attention immediately, since the fatality rate is 50 percent.
You Deserve Compensation
If you’ve been injured at work or in a vehicle accident, you’re entitled to compensation. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.