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Back Injury in a Car Accident

What to Do If You Suffer a Back Injury in a Vehicle Accident

July 15, 2020

Few things are more debilitating than back pain. Considering the range of motions connected to the back, it should come as no surprise that an injury in this area can cause not only chronic pain but long-term impairment.

Back injuries are a common outcome in car accidents, but insurance companies often make low settlement offers on collisions in which they occur. The amount they offer is generally not enough to pay the costs associated with an injury that may require extensive medical treatment and years of rehabilitation.

Because of the far-reaching effects of a back injury, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer if you have been hurt in a car accident. Taking the steps below can also help you build your claim and protect your rights.

The Karl Truman Law Office serves clients throughout Kentucky and Indiana from offices in Louisville ((502) 222-2222) and Jeffersonville ((812) 282-8500). Please call today for a free evaluation of your case.

1. Stay Still Until Help Arrives

Immediately after the accident, it is important to be cautious with how you move. Adrenaline, shock, and other factors can all cover up the symptoms of a serious injury. Getting out of the car and trying to walk could aggravate the injuries you may have sustained, including a back injury.

Unless staying in the car puts you in immediate danger, just call 911 and wait for help. Paramedics will examine your neck and back for signs of spinal cord injury, then work with firefighters to come up with a plan to extract you from the vehicle.

You may be fitted with a cervical collar and placed on a backboard. After assessing your injuries, rescue personnel may recommend transporting you to the hospital. It is important to comply with all the directions given to you by emergency workers.

2. Seek Medical Care

If you are not taken to the hospital directly from the scene of the accident, you should still go to the emergency room or see your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will perform a physical exam of your back for signs of injury and may order tests such as an X-ray and MRI.

Many different back injuries can occur due to car accidents, including:

  • Herniated discs
  • Sprained ligaments
  • Straining of the ligaments, muscles, or tendons in the back
  • Fracture of the thoracic spine (upper back)
  • Fracture of the lumbar region of the spine (lower back)
  • Displacement of the vertebrae, compressing nerves in the spinal cord (spondylolisthesis)
  • Bruising, severing, and other trauma to the spinal cord

Whiplash, a common injury sustained in car accidents, principally affects the cervical spine and soft tissues in the neck. However, symptoms may affect the upper back, so it is important to be evaluated for whiplash when you see the doctor so an appropriate treatment plan can be created.

3. Begin Treatment

After the exam and review of your scans, your doctor will discuss treatment options for your back injury. The nature and severity of your injury will determine the treatments that may be necessary.

Some back injuries heal over time with rest. Others, however, may require more extensive intervention such as:

  • Prescription medications to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and relax the muscles
  • Cortisone injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery, in cases where discs are herniated or displaced

Damage to the spinal cord may necessitate more comprehensive treatment, including occupational rehabilitation, training with adaptive devices, and more.

As you receive treatment, purchase medications, and more, be sure to keep track of all bills and receipts. These will demonstrate the expenses you have incurred as a result of your back injury.

4. Assess Your Recovery

Some back injuries and even spinal cord injuries improve over a period of months. In other cases, however, patients see minimal to no improvement, even after treatment and rehabilitation.

No matter the state of your condition, it is crucial to continue with the followup care prescribed by your doctor. As you receive treatment, continue to document not only the financial cost of your injuries but all of the ways that the back injury has impacted your life, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Issues performing everyday tasks
  • Impact on your ability to perform the functions of your job (including wages you have lost and the prognosis for you to return to work)
  • Anxiety, depression, and other effects on your emotional and mental state
  • How your home and family life is affected

With the exception of lost wages stemming from your back injury, the issues above constitute noneconomic losses associated with the accident. You may be entitled to compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages, but the financial recovery is dependent on your ability to present evidence of these damages.

5. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Although it may be tempting to wait to connect with a lawyer until you have a clearer picture of how your back injury heals, a delay may not be in your best interest:

  1. Statute of limitations: In Kentucky, you only have 1 year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations in Indiana is 2 years, but the clock starts ticking when the accident occurs.
  2. Timely investigation: No matter the statute of limitations, it takes time to build a car accident claim. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more time he or she will have to investigate the cause of the accident, determine liability, enlist experts, and take other steps on your behalf.
  3. Calculating damages: You do not have to wait for your back injury to “stabilize” before talking to a lawyer. An experienced accident attorney will communicate with your medical providers and arrange for expert testimony on how the injury may affect your life. The facts of your case combined with specialized calculations will enable your lawyer to determine the amount to pursue in damages.

Based on these factors, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will file your claim on time, gather appropriate evidence to support your case, and investigate the circumstances of the accident promptly.

Learn How the Karl Truman Law Office Can Help

At the Karl Truman Law Office, our car accident lawyers pursue not only maximum compensation on behalf of clients but peace of mind. We know that a back injury affects every person differently, and we tailor your case to reflect the financial, physical, emotional, and mental losses you have sustained.

If you or a loved one has suffered a back injury in a car accident, please contact the Karl Truman Law Office for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in and around Louisville, Kentucky (call (502) 222-2222), and Jeffersonville, Indiana (call (812) 282-8500).