Back Injuries from Car Accidents
Back pain is a fact of life for millions of Americans — but back pain that appears or gets worse after a car accident can mean that something is wrong. Because back pain can be difficult to locate and treat, those who suffer back injuries in a car crash may find themselves caught in a seemingly never-ending chain of doctor’s appointments, treatments, and attempts to rearrange their lives. Meanwhile, they have to fight insurance companies for the smallest scraps of compensation. Exhausted and in pain, many give up.
If this sounds familiar, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Working with an experienced New York City car accident injury lawyer like the team at Zlotolow & Associates gains you an ally who can fight for the compensation you deserve, while you focus on rest and recovery. Attorney Scott Zlotolow and his team have fought aggressively for our clients for over two decades. We don’t give up when the going gets tough. Schedule a free consultation today.
How Can I Tell if I Have a Back Injury After a Car Accident?
One of the reasons back injuries are tough to treat is because the symptoms of damage to the back don’t always appear as pain at the injury site. Instead, you may experience any number of other symptoms.
Common symptoms of a back injury after a car accident include:
- Pain and soreness. Pain and soreness in the back are by far the most common symptoms of a back injury. These may occur at the injury site or in other places. You may feel stiff, or you may not. If you experience back pain or soreness after an accident, see a doctor as soon as you can.
- Headache, dizziness, or feeling tired. Damage to the neck or back can cause symptoms such as headache or dizziness. A doctor can help rule out other types of injuries, such as a concussion, that can also cause these symptoms. It is important to get medical treatment after an accident to determine what happened and ensure you get appropriate care.
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the limbs. Some back injuries impinge, or press on, nerves that lead from the spinal cord to the arms, legs, and head. If this happens, you may experience pain, numbness, tingling, or limited movement in the areas of the body affected by the impinged nerve. A doctor can help trace the cause of this symptom to its root and recommend a method of treatment.
It’s wise after any car accident to see a doctor. Because many back and neck injuries from car accidents take a few hours or days to fully manifest, your doctor can help document when your symptoms started, what treatment was recommended, and how your body responded.
In addition to scheduling a doctor’s appointment (or seeking emergency treatment for severe or life-threatening symptoms), it’s wise to keep a journal related to your injuries. Write down what happened during the accident, take photos of your injury sites, keep track of doctor’s appointments and what happened during the appointment, and write down your symptoms and your feelings about your injury every day. These notes can help your doctor find the best course of treatment, and they can help your lawyer fight for the fullest possible compensation in your case.
Common Types of Back Injury After a Car Accident
Some types of back injuries are more common in auto accidents than others. Two back injuries that are often seen after a crash include:
- Whiplash. While whiplash symptoms often affect the neck and head, severe whiplash may affect the muscles, nerves, and soft tissue in the shoulders and upper back as well. Whiplash occurs when the head moves backward and forward quickly. It is a common result of the sudden impact involved in a rear-end car accident, as well as in other types of auto accidents.
- Herniated disc. Your spinal cord is encased in a stack of bones called the “vertebrae,” which make up the spinal column. Between each of the vertebrae is a pad of cartilage called a “disc.” These discs cushion the vertebrae and help absorb blows to the spine, as well as helping the back to move freely. When one of the discs slides or pops out of place, however, it can put pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves that pass through the gaps between the vertebrae. This condition is known as a “herniated” disc. It can cause significant pain and loss of mobility.
- Compression fractures. Compression fractures are damage to the vertebrae, which can easily result from the forces of a motor vehicle accident. A compression fracture occurs when one or more of the vertebrae collapse. While these fractures are most common in the thoracic spine (the upper and middle back), they can also occur in the cervical spine (neck) or the lumbar spine (lower back). While a compression fracture may take several months to heal, pain from the fracture can often be treated by a number of different methods, including medication, bed rest, a back brace, or physical therapy.
Some car accidents result in damage to the spinal cord, the bundle of nerves that runs inside the vertebrae and that connects the brain to every other part of the body. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are classified as “complete” or “incomplete.” In a complete spinal cord injury, the cord is severed and the body is paralyzed below the injury site. In an incomplete SCI, the cord is damaged, but not severed. The body may experience loss of feeling or mobility below the injury site but may not be completely paralyzed. However, both types of spinal cord injuries can be expensive to treat and require lifelong care.
How an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You After an Accident
If you’re struggling with back pain after a car accident, you may already find everyday tasks to be an uphill battle. Dealing with insurance companies can push you over the edge. Here’s what an experienced car accident lawyer can do for you:
- Help you understand exactly how the claims process works. If you’re new to the insurance claims process — as many injured people are — you may feel overwhelmed simply trying to understand what you’re being asked to do and why. Your personal injury attorney can answer your questions and tell you how to protect your legal rights while you seek compensation.
- Understand what you want to achieve from your claim. Do you want to ensure your medical bills are paid? Get back on your feet so you can go back to work as soon as possible? Find a way to hold another negligent party accountable for the harm they have caused? An experienced personal injury lawyer wants you to be satisfied with the results of your case — so he or she will ask what you want to achieve and recommend a course of action that helps you achieve it.
- Explain how to protect your legal rights and build your case. When you hire a lawyer, he or she will typically move quickly to start collecting evidence and creating an effective legal strategy for your case. Your car accident lawyer will also provide advice on how to protect yourself and help build your case, through documenting your injuries, keeping track of paperwork, and exploring all possible avenues for compensation.
- Stand between you and the insurance companies, so your claim is handled while you focus on healing. Experienced personal injury lawyers know that healing after severe car accident injuries takes time. That’s why they will manage communication with the insurance companies. Your lawyer knows what to say to build your case without sacrificing your legal rights or undermining your position should you have to go to court.
- Help you figure out how to manage urgent matters and answer any questions you have. Juggling multiple doctor bills? Trying to figure out what to say to your boss, who wants to know why you’re missing so much work? Need to get your vehicle fixed — now? Your car accident lawyer can help you file claims for property damage and understand your rights at work and with creditors. Choose a personal injury law firm with a commitment to communication, so you’re never left wondering about the status of your case.
Choose an Attorney Who Always Fights for More
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain after a serious accident, you need to speak to an experienced New York City car accident lawyer. Your attorney can help protect your legal rights, stand up to insurance companies, and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Zlotolow & Associates provide a free initial consultation to injured accident victims so we can review your legal options with no strings attached. Contact us today to learn how we can make a difference in your case.