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Neck and Back Injuries from Car Accidents

neck injury car accident

People can suffer from many different types of injuries when they are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Some injuries carry more complications than others. Any injury to a person’s neck or back is likely to cause significant difficulties in that person’s daily ability to function.

Recovery from neck and back injuries can be a grueling process. Many victims are unable to work while they are healing and going through rehabilitation. In some cases, severe back injuries can make people permanently unable to work again.

If you or your loved one suffered a neck or back injury in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Make sure that you talk to an attorney right away to get the answers and justice that you deserve.

Demas Law Group represents car accident victims with neck and back injuries all over the greater Sacramento area. You can have our attorneys provide a thorough evaluation of your case when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with us today.

How Our Attorneys Can Make a Difference in Your Back and Neck Injury Claim

Our dedicated back and neck injury lawyers will immediately launch an investigation into your accident to identify who is legally responsible (liable) and what you are owed for your losses. If your injury will require ongoing care and/or will preclude a return to work, we will consult with medical and financial professionals to develop detailed projections of your future costs and losses.

Our highly respected personal injury law firm is known throughout Northern California for our attention to detail in building strong and persuasive cases for our clients. Injured people and their families choose our firm because:

  • We have 25 years of experience and the extensive resources needed to handle even the toughest cases.
  • Our law firm is proud to have earned a 99 percent success rate on cases.
  • Our attorneys and staff treat clients like VIPs. We extend genuine compassion and personalized attention to clients and their families.
  • We stand by our “no win, no fee” guarantee. We do not charge fees unless and until we recover compensation for our clients.

Once we have collected all the evidence in your case, we will begin aggressive negotiations with all the insurance companies involved. If insurers refuse to provide appropriate payments, we will not hesitate to pursue personal injury lawsuits.

Common Types of Neck and Back Injuries

The core of the back and neck is the spine, a columnar stack of vertebrae rising from the pelvis to the skull, each separated by a doughnut-shaped piece of cartilage called a disc. The spinal cord runs from the brain stem down this hollow stack of vertebrae. Nerve pathways branch off through holes in the vertebrae to form the nervous system, which allows us to move and feel sensations.

Anytime you suffer a blow to the spine or it is twisted, wrenched, or compressed with extreme force, the potential for short- and long-term damage to bone, muscle, cartilage, and nerve tissue exists. An injury to the neck or back can cause immobilizing pain lasting for months or years. Pain may extend throughout your arms and legs, and it may be accompanied by muscle tightness, spasms, and decreased mobility.

Some of the most common back and neck injuries are:

Whiplash

Whiplash is a common neck injury. Whiplash injuries are caused by an abrupt hyperextension of the neck, or bending and stretching your neck beyond its normal range of motion. This can happen due to the sudden back-and-forth movement of the head and neck caused by the jolt or impact of a car collision.

This can damage muscle, ligaments, discs, vertebrae, and nerves. The most common symptoms of whiplash are:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Headache

If a neck injury includes nerve damage, it may be accompanied by dizziness and ringing in the ears, as well as continuing headaches.

The most common cause of whiplash is car accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. In a rear-end collision, the head and neck are violently whipped from a stationary position forward and then back again, sometimes with enough force to injure the brain and spinal cord. Even at speeds less than 15 mph, the impact of any crash can cause whiplash, or “cervical acceleration-deceleration injury.”

Herniated, ruptured, or slipped discs

Discs are the spongy cartilage shock absorbers between each vertebra in the spinal column. When the spine is subjected to force, these discs can rupture, tear, or bulge out, which collapses the distance between vertebrae and allows bone to rub against nerve roots — a painful situation.

A herniated disc in the neck can cause symptoms in the shoulders, arms, or chest. A herniated disc in the lower back may cause sciatica, pain that shoots down the leg(s). Sometimes the lower back pain is less severe than the pain in the legs.

In addition to pain, a ruptured disc may cause:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling (“pins and needles” sensation)
  • Severe deep muscle pain and muscle spasms

Weakness in both legs and the loss of bladder and/or bowel control are symptoms of a specific and severe type of nerve-root compression in the spinal canal called “cauda equina syndrome” or CES. This is a serious problem that requires immediate medical help.

Spinal compression fractures

Under the force of sudden impact or sustained pressure, the vertebra and other bony structures of the spine can break. The result is literally a broken back. Fractures to vertebrae are known as compression fractures because the bone in the spine falls (compresses), resulting in decreased height. A “burst fracture,” which includes compression in the front and back of the vertebrae, can be unstable and cause progressive deformity and bowel/bladder disfunction (known as “neurologic compromise”).

Symptoms of spinal compression fracture include:

  • Sudden back pain
  • Worse pain while standing or walking
  • Less intense pain while lying on one’s back
  • Limited spinal mobility
  • Loss of height
  • Crowding of internal organs
  • Deformity (thoracic kyphosis, commonly referred to as a “dowager’s hump”)
  • Loss of muscle and mobility due to lack of activity

Spinal compression fractures often go undiagnosed. Sometimes a patient’s pain is believed to be from muscle strain or other soft-tissue injury, or simply due to advancing age.

It is always important to tell your doctor about any accident you have been in that may be causing you pain so the true extent of your injuries may be properly diagnosed.

One of the most severe back injuries is a spinal cord injury, particularly when it results in paralysis. Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury involves a spinal cord being entirely severed and causes loss of all feeling and ability to control movement below the affected area. An incomplete spinal cord injury is a partial severance of a spinal cord, and the patient often retains some function below the affected area.

Examples of complete spinal cord injuries include:

  • Paraplegia (paralysis of the legs and the lower half of the body)
  • Tetraplegia or quadriplegia (paralysis of all limbs)
  • Triplegia (paralysis of one arm and both legs)
  • Monoplegia (paralysis of one arm or one leg)
  • Hemiplegia (paralysis of one arm and one leg on the same side of the body)

Incomplete spinal cord injuries include anterior cord syndrome, Brown-Sequard syndrome, and central cord syndrome.

Paralysis severity usually depends on the area of the spinal cord affected. The spinal cord has three major regions:

  • Cervical vertebrae — Injuries to the high-cervical nerves (C1-C4) in the neck often result in paralysis to the arms, hands, and legs. Low-cervical nerve injuries (C5-C7) can impact the control of arms and hands as well as the ability to control bowel or bladder movements.
  • Thoracic vertebrae — Wheelchairs are often required for T1-T5 injuries, but injuries to the vertebrae in the middle of the back (T6-T12) can leave victims able to walk with braces.
  • Lumbar vertebrae — Injuries to the L1-L5 lumbar nerves can result in a possible need for wheelchairs for some while others may walk with braces.

The sacral vertebrae (S1-S5) are the lowest portion of the vertebrae, and the coccyx or coccygeal region is the tailbone. While either area can be injured, neither has the type of long-ranging effects associated with the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae.

How Car Accidents Cause Neck and Back Injuries

In the event of a collision, the force of impact can force occupants’ bodies to move forward, backward, and to the side suddenly and without warning. When the head and neck are thrown about suddenly, the sensitive muscles and tendons can suffer serious damage.

Back injuries from twisting, turning, or the application of force to the back or spine can also cause serious injuries in an accident. This sudden, jerking motion often causes harm to the spinal discs, which can result in cracks, ruptures, fissures, and other painful ailments.

Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries

Most people who have suffered a neck or back injury will deal with lingering pain after the accident. The neck or back may become stiff or tender, and most symptoms will appear either immediately or during the days following the accident.

Some other common symptoms of neck injuries include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain

Symptoms of back injuries often include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Consistent ache
  • Impaired breathing

It is essential to seek medical attention as soon as you suspect you or a loved one has suffered a neck or back injury. You will want to make sure that you receive the best possible treatment for these types of injuries.

Treatment for Back and Neck Injuries

Unfortunately, treatment available for most neck and back injuries is limited. It basically consists of medication for pain and inflammation, stabilization and rest as the injury heals, and physical therapy to regain strength, stability, and mobility.

Surgery may be considered for patients with progressive nerve damage or severe weakness or numbness, or for those whose nerve-root pain has not been relieved by other treatment. Additionally, spinal fusion may be recommended for vertebrae fractures considered unstable, with neurologic injury, or that deform the angle of the spine or significantly collapse the spinal cord opening.

Many people with neck and back injuries are left with disabling chronic pain even after all medical treatment options have been exhausted.

If you have neck or back pain from an accident that has not been diagnosed and treated, you should see a doctor immediately. Not only is medical attention important for your health and well-being, it creates records of your injury and medical expenses for a potential personal injury claim.

You should also contact a personal injury attorney about seeking compensation for the costs of medical care you require and other losses you may suffer due to a neck or back injury. Schedule a consultation with our Sacramento back injury attorneys today to talk about your options.

Can I Pursue Compensation If I Had a Pre-Existing Injury?

Many people worry that if they had neck or back problems before an accident, they will not be able to pursue compensation for their injuries. The truth is: If the pain or symptoms of your pre-existing injury are made worse, or “exacerbated,” by your new injury, you can still file a claim for damages.

Such cases can be difficult to win without an experienced personal injury attorney. They depend heavily on medical documentation of your injuries before and after the accident. Contact us today to talk about your accident, and learn how we can help.

How the Back & Neck Car Accident Injury Lawyers at Demas Law Group Can Help

Insurance companies rarely provide victims who have suffered neck or back injuries with the compensation they deserve without a fight. In many cases, the insurers will try to aggressively get victims to accept settlements that are far less than what they are entitled to.

An experienced car accident attorney can negotiate with an insurance company for a fair and full settlement of your case. A lawyer can obtain the medical records and other evidence necessary to prove the real value of your injury claim.

Did you or your loved one sustain a neck or back injury in an automobile accident caused by someone else in Sacramento? You will want to have an attorney for help recovering all of the compensation you need and deserve.

The record of success for Demas Law Group includes a $4.5 million jury verdict for a client who suffered a back injury in an auto accident. Call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation about how we can help you.

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