Four Types, Four Causes, and One Solution
Chronic neck pain takes a toll. It limits mobility and participation in daily activities. It weighs on emotions, frequently causing fear and anxiety. It impairs work performance and life enjoyment. It potentially leads to dependence on pain medications.
Millions of Americans suffer through the agony of living with chronic neck pain. Often, this pain results from neck injuries tied to an accident or trauma. When that accident or trauma happened because of someone else’s careless or reckless conduct, or because someone did not take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening, the neck injury victim has rights under Florida law to recover compensation.
In this blog post, we explore types of neck injuries and the impact they can have on victims’ lives. If you have sustained a neck injury and live with chronic neck pain because of someone else’s actions, speak with an experienced Florida neck injury attorney today.
Common Neck Injuries
Neck injuries are caused by trauma or damage to the structures of the neck, including muscles, soft tissue, and the vertebrae and discs in the cervical spine (the uppermost part of the spine). The most common symptoms of a neck injury are neck pain, muscle tightness and spasms, headaches, and numbness, weakness, or tingling in the arms or hands. Below is an overview of some of the most common types of neck injuries.
In our practice at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, whiplash is probably the most common neck injury our clients suffer. Whiplash typically happens to our clients who have been in motor vehicle accidents, especially those whose cars have been rear-ended by another vehicle. In that type of collision, the lead car and its occupants experience a sudden, unexpected acceleration, usually followed by a rapid deceleration. The driver’s and passengers’ mid-spines absorb the force of that acceleration and transmit it upwards, like the wave that travels the length of a bullwhip when it is snapped. And just like the tip of a whip, when the structure at the top of a person’s spine—their head –cracks, it releases that energy in a violent forward-and-back motion, causing damage to the soft tissues in the neck. Of course, auto accidents aren’t the only times whiplash can happen. Other potential causes of whiplash can include hard hits in contact sports and dangerous amusement park rides.
No matter how they occur, whiplash injuries leave victims contending with serious, and sometimes chronic, neck pain. But that’s not all. According to resources from the National Institutes of Health, other potentially long-lasting symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Neck stiffness;
- Injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries);
- Abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (paresthesias);
- Shoulder or back pain;
- Memory loss;
- Concentration impairment;
- Sleep disturbances
- Fatigue; and
Whiplash sometimes has an undeserved reputation as a “made up” injury. It is anything but. Anyone who has suffered from the lasting effects of whiplash can tell you that it takes a heavy toll on your quality of life. If someone else’s negligence caused that disability, then that person or company deserves to be held to account, and you deserve compensation.
2. Herniated Cervical Discs
The spine, which surrounds and protects the spinal cord, is made up of bones (vertebrae) and, in between them, spongy discs that act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to flex. Those discs contain a gel-like fluid that gives them their shock-absorbing qualities. When the outer covering of the disc ruptures and the fluid in the disc pokes out, this is known as a herniated disc. A herniated disc located in the upper part of the spinal column, known as the cervical spine, is called a herniated cervical disc.
Herniated cervical discs happen for a variety of reasons. Often, discs simply degrade over time. But a herniation can also result from an injury to the spine suffered in any kind of violent impact, such as a car accident, contact sports, or an accidental fall. According to the North American Spine Society, when a cervical disc herniates, it can press on nerves and/or the spinal cord, causing a range of symptoms, like neck pain and numbness or tingling in the shoulders and arms. These conditions will continue or may even worsen until the victim receives treatment, which can include surgery if less invasive forms of treatment do not prove effective.
3. Pinched/Damaged Nerves
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a blow that pushes or forces the head to the side can damage the nerves that supply feeling to the arm, known as the brachial plexus. These blows can happen in a car accident, or in other accidents like a bad fall or during contact sports. The resulting pinching, bruising, or stretching of the nerves can result in a painful condition known as a stinger or burner—a shooting pain in the neck or shoulder, often accompanied by tingling or pain in the arm or hand. Most, but not all such injuries cause only temporary discomfort. But if the nerve trauma is severe, the effects may last longer and require medication and therapy to correct.
4. Cervical Spondylosis (Arthritis of the Neck)
Cervical spondylosis happens to many people as they age as a result of deterioration of the joints and discs in the neck over time. But a blow or other injury to the cervical spine, or repetitive motion over time, can accelerate the onset and severity of this form of arthritis. As anyone who has lived with arthritis can tell you, this is a painful condition that can severely impact a person’s quality of life.
How Neck Injuries Happen
As the descriptions above suggest, there are a few very common ways that neck injuries occur. Some are long-term factors, others consist of situations in which a person sustains a blow or impact that causes damage to the cervical soft tissue and spine. These include:
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Workplace/industrial/construction accidents;
- Sports and recreation;
- Slips and falls;
- Repetitive stress; and
Of course, these are not the only ways neck injuries occur. No matter how you sustain a neck injury, you should seek legal help if the injury occurred because of someone else’s reckless or careless actions.
Who May Have Liability for Neck Injuries
Some neck injuries just happen. They’re nobody’s fault, and you struggle through them the best you can, ideally with appropriate medical care and treatment. But some neck injuries should not happen. They occur because someone else acted in a careless or reckless way that led to you suffering harm. Below, we take a look at some of the common scenarios in which neck injuries happen and identify the parties who may have legal liability for your injury.
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Any number of parties can face legal liability for causing harm to others in a motor vehicle accident. They include drivers who cause accidents, the employers of drivers who get into accidents in commercial vehicles, auto manufacturers who make defective parts that cause accidents, and even road crews and local governments that fail to design, build, and maintain roads in a safe condition. In short, anyone who violates a duty of care to others on the road by acting in a way that could be reasonably expected to cause harm to others, may owe compensation to those they harmed.
(Note, however: in Florida, every driver is required to carry no-fault insurance, which is the primary insurance covering injuries sustained in an accident. But the other driver may still be required to pay damages if the accident inflicted severe injuries or fatalities. Consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to learn more.)
2. Workplace/Industrial/Construction Accidents
Most Floridians who sustain a neck injury on the job are covered by workers’ compensation insurance overseen by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ comp pays medical expenses and certain other expenses related to workplace injuries, including neck injuries from working conditions or a workplace accident. To learn more about your and your employers’ responsibilities when you sustain a neck injury on the job, read this guide.
Workers’ comp covers you no matter who is at fault for your accident. It exempts your employer from paying you damages for a workplace injury, even if it was your employer’s fault. But not all expenses are covered by workers’ comp, and your employer isn’t always the only party whose actions might have caused your injury. Other parties who might have liability to you for causing a workplace injury even if you receive workers’ comp benefits may include manufacturers of workplace tools and equipment, and in rare circumstances co-workers who intentionally caused you harm. Speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney to learn more.
3. Sports and Recreation
We all accept a certain amount of risk when we play sports. But parents of children who play sports know kids aren’t usually able to assess those risks in the same way adults can. Parents place their trust in adults to ensure their children remain relatively safe when they take to the field or the court for a game. When a child sustains a serious neck injury in an athletic event, some parties may face legal liability for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the youth athlete’s wellbeing. They include coaches, referees, and organizers who fail to keep control of games and practices or fail to train and observe appropriate first aid practices, facilities managers who fail to maintain safe venues for sporting events, the parents of players who intentionally harm others. To a lesser extent, similar parties may also face liability to adult athletes who suffer a severe neck injury while competing in organized sports. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more.
4. Accidental Falls
Falling is a serious hazard for many Floridians, particularly people 65 and over. When a person falls and sustains a neck injury on someone else’s property (public or private), Florida law may hold the property owner or occupier liable for damages. The circumstances of the incident that caused someone to fall and injure their neck will dictate whether and to what extent an owner/occupier faces liability. Speak with an experienced Florida premises liability attorney to learn more.
The Solution: A Lawyer Can Help
People sometimes think that a neck injury isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. And sure, it’s true that unlike some catastrophic injuries, neck pain is manageable. But it can still cause serious disruption in your life. And if it wasn’t your fault, you deserve compensation for the difficulty it has caused you.
An experienced Florida neck injury lawyer can help you recover that compensation. But before you consult with a lawyer, it’s important first to seek appropriate medical care and treatment. Figure out the nature of your neck injury, what it will take to treat it, and how likely it is you will make a full recovery. Follow your doctor’s orders. Then, talk to a lawyer.
What can a lawyer do for you? First of all, an experienced neck injury lawyer can investigate the root causes of your injury to evaluate whether someone else has potential legal liability to you for damages. As we explained above, there isn’t always someone else to blame for a neck injury. Then again, it’s also not always crystal clear to non-lawyers who might be at fault for causing what looks like a random accident. Let a lawyer evaluate the cause of your neck injury and tell you whether there is someone from whom you may seek compensation.
If that person or company exists, then a lawyer can also pursue them (or, often, their insurance company) for payment. Many cases resolve after an experienced lawyer opens negotiations with such a party. When a settlement cannot be reached, a lawyer can also take your case to court, where a judge and jury can decide what you deserve to be paid.
Take Neck Injuries Seriously
A neck injury is not something you need to suffer through. It can take a severe toll on your wellbeing. Seek appropriate medical treatment, and then contact a skilled Florida personal injury attorney to determine whether you have the right to seek compensation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA | Main Office
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900