Chester County Back Injury Attorney
Back Injuries and Car Accidents
The Mayo Clinic lists automobile accidents as one of the leading causes of back and spinal injuries, responsible for more than 40 percent of these injuries each year. Back pain will impact a whopping 80 percent of the population at some point, whether that pain is from an auto accident, a work injury or a sports injury. Overall, pain in the lower back is the leading cause of disability across the globe, and in the United States alone, more than $50 billion is spent annually on the treatment of back pain. The spine is a delicate, complex structure, and is simply not built to withstand the impact of a car crash.
Unfortunately, neck and back injuries are common among those who have an automobile accident. During the impact felt at the time of a car accident, the ligaments and muscles in the back can be strained. The resulting injuries can include herniation of the discs, compression fractures, spondylolisthesis, and whiplash. Some back injuries are made worse if the injured person is moved, therefore a person complaining of a back injury should not be moved at the scene of an accident until emergency personnel arrive. After you have received medical treatment for your back injury, your next step should be to contact an experienced Chester County back injury attorney who can assess the facts of your accident, and help you determine whether you are entitled to compensation.
The Different Types of Back Injury from an Automobile Accident
While a simple muscle strain could heal on its own, some back injuries can be much more serious, causing pain and mobility problems months, or even years, following the accident. Below is a more detailed description of the various types of back injuries caused by automobile accidents:
- Whiplash is one of the most common neck/back injuries seen following a car accident. Unfortunately, although whiplash is very real, many people hear the word and immediately think whiplash pain is a scam. Whiplash occurs most often during a rear-end collision. The force from the impact of a rear-end collision pushes your head forcefully backward, then forward—like the motion of a whip cracking. The headrest tends to stop the motion of the head and neck in a front-end collision, although it is possible to end up with whiplash following such an accident. Generally speaking, the symptoms of whiplash will appear within 24 hours, however they may not appear immediately following the accident. In many cases, adrenaline has flooded the body following a car accident, masking the symptoms of pain, therefore it is important to see a physician following your car accident, even if you think you are fine. Whiplash injuries can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, headaches at the base of the skull, fatigue, blurry vision and dizziness. Some people who receive a whiplash injury can experience memory problems, ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating, insomnia and irritability.
- Compression fractures can occur in the middle and lower back following a car accident. While the lower body is held in place by a seat belt, the upper body may be thrown forward forcefully (if no shoulder harness is worn), pulling the vertebrae apart. Compression fractures can result in serious spinal cord injuries when the injured vertebrae move out of place. The primary symptom of a compression fracture is moderate to severe pain in the back area which worsens with movement, but a person with a compression fracture may also experience numbness, weakness, tingling and loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Spondylolisthesis is a stress fracture in the bone which causes the vertebrae to shift out of place. The displaced bone can press on the spinal nerves causing numbness, weakness and pain in the legs or buttocks, and can make it very difficult for the injured person to walk. More extreme cases of spondylolisthesis can result in loss of bladder and bowel control.
- Disc herniation can occur during a car accident when the soft center of the disc pushes through a crack in the exterior of the disc. This causes the surrounding nerves to experience irritation. Some people who experience disc herniation following a car accident will have pain in the arms or legs, weakness, numbness and tingling. Others may have few initial symptoms of disc herniation.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Auto Accident Back Injury
If your auto accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, then you may be able to file a back injury claim and receive compensation from the insurance company of that driver. The settlement value of your specific back injury case will depend on the facts surrounding your accident. Normally, however, your back injury claim will be eligible for economic as well as non-economic damages which are grouped together under the term “compensatory damages.”
You could be entitled to past and future medical expenses, which can include your physician expenses, hospital expenses, rehabilitation expenses and prescription medication expenses. If you have suffered a serious spinal injury resulting in paralysis, you could be entitled to the cost of your future medical care.
If your back injury has kept you from returning to your normal job, or if you may never be able to work again, you may be entitled to lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Damages for lost wages are calculated by looking at your salary history, while lost earning capacity is a much more complex formula including an assessment of your projected earnings.
You may be entitled to non-economic compensatory damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium (deprivation of a normal, loving relationship and companionship with spouse and children. Under certain circumstances, you may be awarded punitive damages for your back injury, however it must be shown that there was more than negligence which caused the accident, rather the other driver exhibited willful, reckless actions which led to your injuries. Punitive damages are meant to punish the other person as well as deter this kind of behavior in the future.
Contact Our West Chester Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has sustained a serious back injury in an accident in Chester County, Philadelphia, Lancaster, or anywhere in the State of Pennsylvania, it is crucial you speak to an experienced West Chester injury attorney in order to ensure your rights are protected.
The Chester county back injury attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been injured in accidents. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.