The forceful collision between two vehicles can cause serious neck and back injuries. What makes these injuries less prominent is that sometimes there are no immediate signs of harm. The pain of the injury may not appear until hours, or days, after the accident. Neck and back injuries are of special concern due to complications that develop if not addressed. Only medical professionals with MRI and CT scans can properly diagnosis a neck or back injury. Seeking medical treatment immediately following an accident is always a smart idea. Consulting with a neck and back injury attorney soon after your accident is another smart idea for protecting your financial future.
Types of Neck and Back Trauma
The neck and back are parts of our body we tend to take for granted—until they hurt. The ability to turn our heads and to lift objects depends upon the health of both the neck and the back. A traumatic event, like that of a car accident, can result in serious and sometimes life-long, neck and back pain. Here are a few examples of neck and back trauma that require medical attention:
Neck sprain – A sudden impact, like that of a rear-end collision, can cause a neck sprain. Described as a stretched ligament or muscle in the neck, a sprain is often quite painful. Sometimes referred to as whiplash, a neck sprain can result in a stiff neck, making it difficult to turn your head.
The pain of a neck sprain can also travel beyond the neck. Patients may experience patchy numbness in their hands or arms and dizziness. Shoulder pain in the upper back and ringing in the ears are other possible symptoms.
Seeking immediate medical attention for suspected whiplash is important for ruling out a spinal cord injury. Sleeping with a neck sprain is difficult and patients may need assistance with daily tasks. Treatment can involve medication, wearing a neck brace, and physical therapy.
Cervical fracture – The neck contains cervical bones. Also called vertebrae, they make up the spine in the neck and have labels of C1-C7. The cervical bones perform the important function of protecting the spinal cord, supporting the neck, and allowing for movement.
When there is a suspected fracture of the cervical bones, first responders must immobilize the patient. Once stabilized, an assessment of the patient’s injuries occurs to determine where and how many breaks exist. Treatment depends upon the severity of the injury and can include a neck brace, traction, or surgery. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can last for months and some cervical fractures can sometimes result in permanent injury.
Herniated discs – These soft, rubbery discs sit between the vertebrae of the spine. Serving as a type of cushion, the discs can rupture or herniate and push through the vertebrae. The result is pressure on nerves and pain in the lower back or neck.
Shooting pain and tingling or numbness in your limbs can affect your daily life. Herniated discs sometimes require surgery to remove the ruptured disc.
Broken back – A broken back is an extremely painful injury that requires immediate medical attention. Only a medical professional with access to MRI or a CT scan can properly diagnosis a broken back.
Recovery from such an injury is weeks, months, and possibly years, depending upon the severity. For a broken back injury involving the spinal cord, the damage may require surgery and be permanent.
Average Settlements for Neck and Back Injuries
The amount of settlement awarded for your injuries depends on several factors, so no true averages exist for settlements of judgments.
The severity of your injury and the details of your case, along with evidence, can play an important role in what you receive. The following examples demonstrate the possible outcomes of successful settlements that far exceed initial settlement offers. Each case is different, and the examples below do not predict nor do they guarantee the outcome of your particular case.
The insurance carriers cited the victim’s pre-existing neck and back issues, using the causation theory to defend this claim. While the client did, in fact, have significant pre-existing conditions, a personal injury attorney secured a $525,000 settlement.
Before filing a lawsuit, the insurance company’s initial offer was $45,000.
With this case, the client suffered a lower back injury due to a serious rear-end car accident. Treatment for her injury required surgery. The highest offer before litigation was $265,000.
A motorcycle collision left this client with a damaged disc in his neck. The client tried injection therapy and conservative treatment options without success. To get relief, the client underwent cervical fusion surgery to repair the damaged disc in his neck. The case settled one day before the trial was to begin.
The initial offer before litigation was $130,000.
This client was rear-ended while sitting at a railroad crossing. While the insurance company tried to prove the herniated disc pre-existed, it did not. An attorney successfully secured a settlement of $380,000 for the client’s back injury, which required surgery.
The right personal injury attorney will work hard to protect your best interests. Your case is unique to your situation and your outcome may differ from those listed above. With proper documentation and evidence of your accident, securing compensation for neck and back injuries is possible and worth pursuing.
Why Pursue a Settlement?
Insurance company representatives may offer you a settlement soon after the accident. While the offer may seem like a large amount, it most likely will not cover your future medical expenses. Neck and back injuries are painful and as such, often require pain medication. Lying in your hospital bed, groggy from your medications, is no time to make important decisions.
There are several key reasons for not accepting the initial offer and for pursuing compensation:
The limitations of Florida’s No-Fault Law – While Florida requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, the minimum amount of allowed coverage is $10,000. With rising medical costs, this amount barely covers a basic hospital stay. Serious neck and back injuries can result in future surgeries, extensive physical therapy, and the need for personal care. Depending upon your injury, the costs can sore beyond the thousands and into the millions of dollars.
Lost wages – A neck or back injury can not only slow you down, it can prevent you from doing your job. Even desk jobs involve proper posture and turning your head. Driving your car to work may suddenly become impossible due to a neck brace. A warehouse job where you once lifted heavy boxes is now impossible.
Losing your job and the ability to provide for your family is stressful and heartbreaking. Many people work hard for years at a career they enjoy, only for an accident to force them to the sidelines.
Accountability – Of all the key reasons for pursuing a settlement, accountability is perhaps the most important. No one should pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses or suffer financial stress due to the carelessness of another driver. Holding the negligent driver responsible for their actions may help to assure they will never driver recklessly again.
There’s no quick fix to your life after a traumatic car accident. Neck and back pain can follow you throughout your life and long after the initial injury. Pursuing a settlement is your opportunity to seek legal action against the responsible party. Many personal injury attorneys agree to represent clients with a guarantee of, “if we don’t win, you don’t pay.” This means there are no fees unless they secure compensation for you. Ask yourself what do you have to lose by pursuing litigation and what do you have to lose by not taking the chance?
What a Personal Injury Attorney Can Do
When an insurance company representative contacts you, their motivation isn’t about your future. Having someone on your side who understands the games the representatives’ play is essential for protecting you and your family.
Recovering from a painful neck or back injury takes an incredible about of time. The last thing you want—or need—to do is to deal with the details of your case. A personal injury attorney can represent your interest while keeping you informed of the progress of your case.
Deciding whether you even have a case is your first step. As soon as possible, discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. If you remain in the hospital, ask them to visit you there. Time is of the essence due to the Florida statute of limitations. The sooner an attorney reviews your case, the sooner they can decide upon the best course of action for you.
The initial case evaluation with most personal injury attorneys is free, making it a great way to explore your options. Friends and family may pressure you to accept the insurance company’s initial offer. Don’t give in to pressure from anyone. Your financial future is too important to simply agree with others.
An experienced Florida personal injury attorney understands state law and knows how to negotiate with insurance companies. Their skills most likely go beyond any basic knowledge you have of the litigation process.
Pursuing the best outcome for you requires patience and trust. A highly skilled personal injury attorney will do everything possible to settle the case out-of-court. Should they be unable to reach a fair settlement, they should be unafraid to go to trial.
Never Underestimate Neck and Back Injuries
A traumatic car accident conjures images of visible injuries, such as broken bones and bleeding. Neck and back injuries are extremely serious and not always visible to the naked eye. Seek medical attention immediately following a car accident to identify and treat those problems before their most serious effects emerge.
The sudden and forceful jolt of a rear-end accident or that of a head-on collision can easily injure your neck and back. The pain associated with these injuries may not appear right away. Accept medical transport to a hospital for tests and a proper diagnosis.
The ability to look around you is something that is easily taken for granted. Hurting your neck and your back greatly impacts how, and if, you can move your body. Simple tasks like taking a shower or dressing are slow and painful, often requiring assistance from family.
Recreational activities like swimming, tennis, or golf can come to a halt or possibly stop forever. Riding a bicycle or dancing with your friends are other examples of activities that are difficult after a neck or back injury. Even cooking a meal is often impossible due to the bending and reaching for ingredients and pans.
The reckless behavior of another driver can quickly result in a lifetime of physical, financial, and emotional pain for you. Whether they are driving while drunk, distracted, or driving aggressively, their actions are inexcusable.
If your quick trip to the store turned into a tragedy for you, consider pursuing your legal options. What happened to cause your severe neck and back pain was due to no fault of your own and it isn’t fair. The only fair avenue of approach is securing the compensation you deserve.
No one knows why people choose to take risks while behind the wheel of a vehicle. The problem is that people do take foolish risks every day, placing everyone around them at risk for harm. There is little regard for the safety of others when a driver fails to share the road.
Focusing on your health during this trying your time is your top priority. The legal details, witness statements, negotiations, and court filings are best left to a trusted personal injury attorney. A positive attitude, patience, and perseverance, along with the support of friends and family, can guide you through this difficult time. By letting an experienced neck and back injury attorney handle your case, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.
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Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900