A spine injury from a car accident can be devastating and life-altering. There are three regions in a person’s spine — the cervical spine (which includes the neck and upper back), the thoracic spine (the mid-back), and the lumbar spine (the lower back). Critically, if the nerves in any of these areas are damaged during the impact of a collision, a victim can suffer paralysis from the neck or waist down. If you’ve suffered a spine injury in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for both your economic damages and your pain and suffering by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Common Car Accident Spine Injuries
The impact of a car accident can take a significant toll on a victim. When a driver or passenger is jolted, strikes any component of the vehicle’s interior, or is thrown from the car, the physical damage can last for years — or even the rest of the victim’s life. Even a low-impact collision can lead to serious injuries. Some of the most common types of car accident injuries that affect the spine include the following:
- Whiplash — Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. It happens when a person’s head is quickly thrown backward, then forward, during the impact of a collision. This motion can result in injury to the spine, nerves, ligaments, muscles, and tissues in the neck.
- Herniated discs — A herniated disc occurs when the soft center part of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the exterior casing. This can irritate nearby nerves, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in an arm or leg.
- Spondylolisthesis — Spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae slip out of place and push on the bone below. This injury typically affects the bones in the lower back.
- Spinal stenosis — Any narrowing that occurs in the spaces in the spine can result in pressure being placed on the spinal cord, causing numbness, weakness, and pain.
- Spinal fracture — A spinal fracture is a dislocation or fracture of the vertebrae that can occur anywhere on the spine.
- Paralysis — Paralysis is the inability to make voluntary muscle movements. It can affect any body part and result in a victim being wholly or partially paralyzed. Quadriplegia affects all limbs, while hemiplegia involves two limbs on one side of the body. Other varieties of paralysis can include monoplegia, which affects one limb, and paraplegia, which impacts both legs.
Car accident spine injuries often require extensive medical treatment and time lost from work. The type of medical treatment that you will need can depend upon the specific spine injury you suffered. For example, while whiplash or a herniated disc may respond to physical therapy, more serious injuries might require surgery. Although there is no cure, treatment for car accident victims who have suffered paralysis can include occupational therapy, mobility aids, muscle reactors, physical therapy, and amputation.
Compensation for Car Accident Spine Injuries
A car accident victim who suffered a spine injury may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury action if they can establish that someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness caused their injury. Monetary recovery can include both the economic and non-economic damages incurred by a victim. An award of economic damages covers unreimbursed medical expenses, future medical treatment, lost wages, future lost earnings, and out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic damages compensate a victim for the pain and suffering they experienced due to their accident-related injuries.
Since a spine injury can have permanent effects and result in lifelong disability, the damages awarded in these cases are often substantially greater than in matters involving non-permanent injuries. They can include compensation for things like ongoing rehabilitation, the use of assistive devices, and structural modifications to the victim’s home. In addition, pain and suffering damages can often comprise the largest portion of a personal injury award in cases involving a spine injury. This category of damages is meant to address the physical pain, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life suffered by the victim.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered a spine injury in a car crash, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side who will fight to obtain the monetary compensation you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has represented clients in car accident cases for over three decades and works diligently to achieve the best possible results in each unique case. Contact us today for a consultation.