If you or a loved one has suffered a back injury in a car accident, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. We are experienced Spokane personal injury attorneys serving clients in Spokane, Spokane Valley and in Idaho.
The human spine is a complicated and sensitive structure. It consists of seven neck or cervical vertebrae, 12 vertebrae in the middle of the back known as thoracic vertebrae and five lumbar vertebrae in the lower back known as the lumbar spine. Those vertebrae protect the spinal cord that begins at the base of the brain and extends down about 19 inches. From the spinal cord, there are 31 pairs of spinal nerves. Between each vertebra is a joint called a facet joint, and in each facet joint is a disc that works as a cushion between the vertebrae. A system that complex isn’t made to withstand a motor vehicle crash.
Back injuries after a car accident:
Back injuries commonly result from motor vehicle collisions. An impact will strain spinal muscles and ligaments while the facet joints absorb its force. Injuries can result in the form of:
- An acceleration-deceleration injury (whiplash)
- Herniated discs
- Vertebral compression fractures
A whiplash spinal sprain or strain is likely to heal with conservative treatment over six to eight weeks. A more serious injury can cause pain and discomfort that can last a lifetime. What comes to issue is that you might not know if your injury involves a simple soft tissue strain or a more serious injury until such time as you’re examined by a doctor. He or she will assess how serious your injury is through your symptoms.
The most common cause of a whiplash injury from a motor vehicle collision is a rear-end impact. Symptoms will manifest themselves within seconds or days. They might include:
- Neck pain and loss of range of motion
- Headaches starting at the bottom of the skull
- Blurred vision that could be a sign of a concussion
- Ringing in the ears
Your spinal discs take the brunt of the force of an impact in a motor vehicle crash. Inside of every disc is a jelly-like substance that provides even more cushioning. When a disc herniates, it ruptures, and the jelly-like substance inside of the disc leaks out and puts pressure on a spinal nerve. Depending on what part of the spine the herniation is at, most people will experience tingling, numbness or pain in the arm, buttocks or leg. Pain from a disc herniation can be severe. It might only be relieved with surgery.
Vertebral compression fractures
At the instant of impact, the upper body is violently thrust forward while the lower spine is held in place by a seatbelt. The force can be enough to compress and fracture a vertebra. Back pain from a compression fracture can be moderate to severe. If the fracture affects the spinal cord, the victim might experience tingling and numbness from the level of the spinal cord injury on down along with bowel and bladder control issues. Only trained emergency response personnel should move a spinal cord injury victim.
This condition involves a traumatically displaced vertebra. Because the bone is out of position, it might put pressure on spinal nerves or the spinal cord. The victim might experience pain in the buttocks and legs along with difficulty walking. This condition might also require surgery.
Steps to take after a back injury:
Symptoms of back injuries might not be felt for hours or even days after a motor vehicle crash. If you experience any symptoms, arrange to be examined by a doctor as soon as you feel them in order to rule out a serious injury. You might even be contacted by the insurer of the person who caused the crash “just to see how you’re feeling.” Then he or she will ask for a recorded statement with your version of events. You’re under no legal obligation to give a statement or help that insurer in any way. The insurer will only try to use it against you in the future. Politely refuse to give a statement, and call us right away for a free consultation and case evaluation. If you retain us to represent you for your back injury, you’ll never hear from that insurance company again. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.