After a car accident, victims sustain injuries from head to toe; due to the nature of motor vehicle accidents, and the back and forth motion caused when colliding with another car, neck and spine injuries are some of the most common (and most severe). Herniated disks, strains, and whiplash injuries can all cause a victim widespread chronic pain. In catastrophic accidents, broken vertebrae or Spinal Cord Injuries may occur on impact. Some of the most serious injuries sustained in a road-related accident are direct impacts to the head, neck, and spine. Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury are the most severe and have permanent implications on the life of victims who sustain these injuries.
When a car accident victim sustains an injury to the neck, back, or cervical spine, they’re placed at-risk for serious complications such as numbness, migraine, chronic pain, and in the worst case scenarios they can suffer partial or total paralysis in any number of areas on the body. Sustaining this type of physical injury, as well as suffering the financial devastation of lost wages and medical expenses the insurance company refuses to pay for, can cause mental anguish that can further prolong physical recovery.
What’s the Personal Injury perspective on injuries sustained in a car accident?
From a Personal Injury perspective, a client who sustains an injury in a car accident, especially neck or Spinal Cord Injury must be represented by an accident lawyer that has experience with hundreds of previous cases. Cases that have been seen to a successful verdict are also important, as it provides a picture of what the lawyer is capable of achieving on behalf of a client. There are many firms that will attempt to take on catastrophic injury claims, only to be forced to settle for less than the client deserves because they were unable to handle the difficulty of the case. The insurance companies hope these are the lawyers they’ll encounter, and are dismayed when they’re up against a lawyer who’s Board Certified. Board Certified lawyers never take less than the client deserves, and the insurance companies know it.
Within this writeup, we’ll answer the following questions about common, but severe injuries sustained in car accidents:
- What are the different types of neck and back injuries?
- What are the different types of Spinal Cord Injury?
- After an accident, what makes a good Personal Injury client?
- What does a Personal Injury lawyer need during Discovery that can bring about a successful verdict or settlement at the conclusion of the case?
- The importance of experienced legal representation
What are the different types of neck and back injuries?
As we’ve discussed in multiple articles on The Law Resource, there are multiple factors that go into the type of neck or Spinal Cord Injury (“SCI”) a victim sustains. When it comes to neck injuries, there are more than a few types of serious injuries that can leave a victim with widespread, sometimes even chronic pain (such as CRPS).
In the list below, though not exhaustive, we explore several of these injuries:
- Whiplash injuries: this type of injury can occur after an accident that causes the head and neck area to move-or “whip”-around violent. This injury is considered by medical professionals to be the most common type of neck injury, specifically after a motor vehicle accident in which the victim is rear-ended, causing them to jerk forward in a violent back-and-forth motion.
- Pinched nerve injuries: a “pinched” nerve in the neck can cause burning, sharp, or extreme shooting pain down the victim’s back and into the arms. When treated effectively, these injuries tend to heal on their own fairly quickly.
- Sprain injuries: Car accidents can cause sprains in the muscles of the neck. These injuries are further aggravated by over exertion or too much activity during the healing process (returning to work or activities too soon). Doctors recommend anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and reducing physical activity to allow a sprain to heal properly.
- Neck and back muscle strain: it’s important to wear a seatbelt and maintain proper posture while driving at all times. Not only is it illegal to drive without a seatbelt, seatbelts can prevent unnecessary death in the event of a car accident (no matter which party is at-fault, lack of wearing a seatbelt is a serious issue). For example, when a car is rear ended, lack of posturing the body correctly can cause a painful muscle strain at the moment of impact.
- Disk injuries: these injuries frequently occur in work-related accidents that require the employee to lift heavy objects repeatedly. Heavy lifting on a regular basis can cause the nerves in the neck to become irritated and for these “jelly-like” cushions to slip out of place. Disk injuries with no known cause are usually attributed to the normal aging process.
What are the different types of Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal Cord Injury can be one of the most catastrophic injuries a victim can sustain as a result of an accident. These injuries can be fatal if left untreated and are known to more frequently cause partial or permanent paralysis even with proper medical intervention. There are many types of “SCI”, some of which are quite rare. Below, we’ve provided the most common types of Spinal Cord Injury along with their causes:
- Cerebral fracture: the most severe motor vehicle accidents, falls, or blows to the head and neck can cause the vertebrae in the neck to fracture or break. This injury is considered to be a medical emergency and requires immediate transport to the emergency room by ambulance, where a patient can receive the proper medical attention right away. Spinal fractures can cause serious damage to the spinal cord, resulting in the victim being unable to breathe on their own. Cerebral fractures can lead to paralysis and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
- Spinal cord damage: this is the most severe injury sustained in the aforementioned accidents. When the spinal cord is damaged, there is only a limited window of time in which medical professionals can save the victim’s life. These injuries usually result in paralysis to some extent, leaving the victim unable to walk, and wheelchair bound. Recent advancements in Spinal Cord Injury have given hope to many victims who believed they would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.
After an accident, what makes a good Personal Injury client?
No matter what type of injury is sustained during an accident, it’s important to always show up to scheduled medical appointments during the recovery process, and let the lawyer on the case know if an appointment must be cancelled or rescheduled. Insurance companies will use a single missed appointment to try and prove a victim has recovered and no longer requires compensation, when in fact the victim may have simply been too injured to make it to their appointment on time. The lawyer representing the injured party understands this, and it’s important they’re always kept in the loop on the medical side.
Watch a quick video explanation of what makes a good Personal Injury client below!
The importance of experienced Personal Injury representation
Within the specialty of practicing Personal Injury, lawyers are highly familiar with car accident victims and the injuries they present with from the first consultation. It goes without saying, though, that not every Personal Injury lawyer is created equally or has the same amount of experience in every area of this specialty. The lawyer must be able to act aggressively when it comes to taking on the insurance company who may have lead the victim to believe they’re only entitled to a paltry sum for their serious injury. It’s important to remember that aggressive in the field of practicing law does not always mean “go to trial”. If necessary, an experienced lawyer won’t hesitate to take a case to court; however, the best lawyers are skilled in Alternative Dispute Resolution and will always opt for whichever method of ADR poses the best outcome for the client.
When it comes to neck and spine injuries, the insurance company should never be allowed to play “schoolyard bully” with the victim, and that’s why the lawyer is there. A Personal Injury lawyer with prior experience seeing cases to verdict at trial knows these bullying tactics to happen to nearly every client, and will protect them from being offered less than they deserve. A lawyer’s prior successes are invaluable to every future case. This experience is necessary to recover the maximum amount of financial compensation for the clients they represent.
What does a Personal Injury lawyer need during Discovery that can bring about a successful verdict or settlement at the conclusion of the case?
- Complete records: hospital records, specialist notes, imaging reports (CT, X-ray, MRI) and medical bills that show the extent of the victim’s financial injury (as related to the physical injuries sustained in the car accident) due to lost wages and medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance (and for which the insurance company refuses to pay for).
- Documentation: accident reports, police reports.
- Expert testimony: an expert in the field of accident recreation, a doctor, or mental health professional during trial can back a victim’s claim of pain and suffering with no room left for questions.
- Witness testimony: those who may have witnessed the accident can speak to the nature of the severity and the pain and suffering they witnessed firsthand.
- Accident Recreation and Demonstrative Aides: both of these can help a case reach a successful outcome. An Accident Recreation Expert can show how the injuries were sustained and how severely, while a lawyer who uses Demonstrative Aides can successfully provide the burden of proof necessary to explain how the client has suffered and continues to suffer from the injuries sustained during the accident.
Our writeups provide lawyer-backed, in-depth but general information on the area of Personal Injury law. Always consult with a Board Certified lawyer in your area when it comes to the specifics of a Personal Injury claim in which the victim may be entitled to compensation!