Sitting, standing, driving, walking, carrying, lifting, and sleeping; all activities those suffering from a back injury know they can no longer do without pain or difficulty. Unfortunately, because your back encompasses your spine, supportive ligaments, muscles, and controls your flexibility and mobility, an injury to your back can affect almost every area of your life. If you work a physical job, it may disable you all together, and even if you work an office job, the pain and discomfort of sitting for long stretches of time may be too much to bear. Accordingly, if you injured your back in an accident, are you entitled to compensation for the effect such an injury has had on your life?
Classification of Back Injuries
Generally, physicians classify back injuries based on the area of your back that is injured. There are three primary areas of your back, and each area also refers to a certain area of your spine: Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar. There is also the sacral region of your spine, which includes your tailbone. Your cervical, or C-spine, encompasses your upper back and neck. Your thoracic spine includes mid-back injuries, and your lumbar spine includes lower back injuries. Depending on the nature of the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may have injured one or all of the areas of your back. For example, if you are in a car accident and suffering from whiplash, the injury is to your neck and upper-back, that is, your cervical spine.
Most Common Types of Back Injuries
As those who suffer from back injuries know, the most common area of the back injured is the lumbar spine, and the most common types of back injuries include:
- Sprains and strains;
- Herniated disks;
- Degenerative disks;
- Fractured vertebrae;
- Spinal stenosis;
- Pinched nerves; and
- Inflammation due to various causes, including pregnancy.
Not every type of back injury is caused by an accident, as many back injuries are degenerative in nature. Further, many of these injuries may not be preventable, although a regiment of exercise can strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine. However, what happens if you already suffer from a weakened spine due to arthritis and you are injured in a car accident that causes severe damage and herniation? Are you entitled to compensation if the condition was partially pre-existing? The answer is yes.
The “Eggshell Plaintiff Rule”
There is a concept in the law known commonly as the “eggshell plaintiff” or “eggshell skull” rule, which is a doctrine that states a defendant is liable for all injuries suffered by a plaintiff as the result of the defendant’s negligent conduct, including those injuries that are uncommon, unforeseeable, or exacerbated due to a plaintiff’s prior medical conditions. For example, say an elderly woman suffering from osteoporosis, a weakened bone condition, is sitting in her vehicle when she is rear-ended at a red light. Although the driver who rear-ended the plaintiff in this case only did so when traveling 10 miles per hour, because the elderly woman already had a serious bone condition, she ended up suffering from major herniation and a fractured vertebra as a result of the accident.
Even though such severe injuries were not a foreseeable result of a low-speed accident, and the plaintiff was already suffering from a pre-existing condition, she is still entitled to full compensation for those injuries or conditions that were made worse due to the defendant’s negligence. A defendant cannot absolve himself from liability simply because the injury was pre-existing, provided there is medical evidence that supports a plaintiff’s contention that the injury was made worse as a result of the accident.
Florida Personal Injury Compensation Law
If you have been injured in a Florida accident, especially if you are suffering from a back injury, you are entitled to seek compensation for more than just your medical bills. In fact, you may seek the following from the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company:
- Past and future lost wages, including loss of a career and earning capacity;
- Past and future medical bills;
- Past and future medical related expenses, including medications, medical equipment, and any accommodations needed, such as a handicap ramp in the home;
- Pain and suffering, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life, such as the inability to play soccer or participate in activities you used to love.
When seeking compensation, it is essential you have proper “before and after” documentation so that the court will be able to see that the accident had an effect on your activities. For example, records of gym membership before and after the accident or sworn testimony from your teammates that you used to be able to play soccer but have not been able to do so since the accident. Further, if a preexisting condition was exacerbated as the result of an accident, it is important that you have medical documentation from before and after the accident to show that the condition truly worsened. If you do not have such documentation, then you may not be able to meet your burden of showing the court that the pain you are experiencing was because of the accident and worse than the pain you were experiencing prior to such.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one suffered a back injury as the result of another’s negligence, whether in a car accident, physical altercation, or trip-and-fall, it is important to seek both treatment and compensation immediately. Because back injuries are common even when no accident is involved, it is important to get the proper medical documentation to show that you were not suffering from a serious injury before the accident. It is also essential that, because of how fully a back injury can affect your life, you understand you are entitled to seek compensation in all of those areas. If you believe you are entitled to compensation for your back injury, contact the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. They have the experienced personal injury attorneys you need to fight for your rights in the greater Tampa Bay Area. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.