Neck Injuries from a Car Accident – Soft Tissue Damage

Neck Injuries from a Car Accident – Soft Tissue Damage

The violent forces of a crash and traumatic blows that a car occupant can suffer often result in a wide range of neck injuries, including sprains, strains, herniated discs, fractures, and spinal cord damage. However, many car accident victims who suffer neck injuries often have difficulty recovering compensation for their medical expenses and lost income arising from their injury.

Turn to a car accident attorney to secure financial relief if you suffered a neck injury in a crash caused by another driver. A car accident lawyer can walk you through your legal options, prepare you for the claims process, and advocate for your rights when insurers refuse to compensate you for your injury.

Common Types of Neck Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents

According to a recent study, approximately 869,000 auto accident-related cervical spine injuries occur annually in the United States.

Those car accidents can cause these neck injuries:

  • Ligament sprains/tears. Ligaments connect two or more bones to a joint. A ligament sprain occurs due to excessive stretching, which can cause the ligament to become inflamed or tear.
  • Muscle and tendon strains/tears. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Like a sprain, a muscle/tendon strain arises from excessive stretching of the tissues that can cause inflammation or tears.
  • Whiplash. An injury from damage to soft tissues and nerves in the neck. Whiplash occurs when a force on the head or body causes the head and neck to rapidly move forward and back or side to side, like the motion of a whip. Whiplash injuries can cause chronic pain, stiffness, and neck and upper shoulder weakness.
  • Nerve injuries. Include pinched nerves (when nerves become trapped in inflamed tissues), bruised nerves, and sheared or torn nerves.
  • Cervical vertebrae fractures. Traumatic forces in a car accident or on a car occupant’s body can also cause the cervical vertebrae to crack or shatter.
  • Spinal disc herniation. Spinal discs sit between each vertebra to cushion the spinal column. Discs contain a hard outer covering and an inner spongy or jelly-like substance. When the outer surface wears down or becomes damaged, the inner spongy tissue can poke out, potentially compressing the nerve bundles that exit the spinal cord. Compressing these nerves can cause chronic pain, numbness, and weakness in the hands and arms.
  • Spinal cord injuries. Traumatic forces or other injuries, such as vertebrae fractures, may damage or sever the cervical spinal cord, causing temporary or permanent paralysis that usually affects the entire body from the neck or upper shoulders down.

What Do Neck Injury Symptoms Mean After a Car Accident? | The Flood Law Firm

How Do Car Accidents Cause Neck Injuries?

The traumatic forces involved in a car accident can cause neck injuries in several ways. First, a violent collision can force a car occupant’s head and neck to rapidly jerk back and forth or side to side. This jerking motion can cause strains and sprains, inflammation that leads to pinched nerves, or whiplash injury.

A car occupant may also suffer a neck injury in a car accident if their neck suffers a hyperextension or a bending of the head-neck joint beyond its usual range of motion.

Hyperextension may occur from the impact of an airbag, from hitting one’s head or neck on a side pillar, or in a rollover accident where the car lands on its roof and causes an occupant to fall out of their seat and land on their head and neck. Hyperextension might also occur if the car accident crushes the vehicle, trapping occupants inside with their heads and neck twisted in an awkward position.

A traumatic force or impact on the neck can also cause injuries such as broken vertebrae or spinal disc herniation.

Finally, a car accident can cause a neck injury if an occupant experiences a penetrating injury. Flying debris or a piece of the car may pierce an accident victim’s neck and cause tissue damage.

Symptoms of Neck Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Symptoms of neck injuries will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury.

If you suffered a neck injury in a car accident, you might experience:

  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
  • Chronic neck and upper shoulder pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty turning the head and neck
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the hands, arms, or upper back
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Paralysis in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Odd twisting or positioning of the head and neck

Neck Injuries from a Car Accident

Treating and Recovering From Neck Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents

Treatment for a neck injury caused by a car accident will begin with acute care focused on stabilizing your neck to prevent further damage. For example, paramedics who respond to the accident scene may put a neck brace on you or place you on a flat board to keep your neck and spine straight.

After that, treatment will depend on the nature and severity of your neck injury. Doctors may perform diagnostic testing to confirm the damage, including physical examination and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

For most soft-tissue neck injuries, treatment options may include:

  • Rest, cervical collars, and alternating heat and cold while the injury heals on its own
  • Massage therapy performed by a licensed massage therapist
  • Medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, or muscle relaxers
  • Injection therapy, including corticosteroid injections or nerve blockers
  • Physical therapy

For more severe neck injuries, doctors may recommend surgical intervention. Neck injury victims may undergo surgery for acute injuries such as fractured vertebrae or after more conservative treatments have failed to relieve pain or restore strength and range of motion.

Examples of surgical procedures for neck injuries include:

  • Repairs of fractured cervical vertebrae and removing bone fragments or other foreign objects
  • Repairs of torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles
  • Laminectomy. A procedure that removes part of the vertebrae and other tissues to make room for the spinal cord and the nerve bundles that exit the spinal column
  • Spinal fusion. A procedure that fuses two or more vertebrae to stabilize the cervical spine
  • Discectomy. A surgery to remove a damaged or herniated spinal disc and replace it with an artificial disc

A cervical spinal cord injury will usually result in permanent paralysis, often in the form of quadriplegia. A person with quadriplegia will require intensive lifelong care and assistance with many tasks of daily living.

What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident to Protect Your Legal Rights to Compensation?

To preserve your legal options for recovering compensation after suffering a neck injury in a car accident:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have not already done so. Delaying treatment of your neck injury may give the insurance company a basis to argue that your injury arose from degenerative changes or other trauma rather than a car accident.
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and instructions, including restrictions on physical activity.
  • Keep copies of your medical bills, invoices, and other expenses you incur due to your neck injury.
  • Gather your pay stubs or income statements if you need to take time off work while recovering from your neck injury.
  • Keep a diary or journal to record the physical pain and limitations you experience from your injury.
  • Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to get help from a legal advocate who will fight for financial recovery for your injuries.

Financial Compensation Available for Car Accident Neck Injuries

Depending on the type and severity of neck injuries, you may have the right to recover compensation for expenses incurred after the car accident.

Financial relief in a car accident case can provide you with money for:

  • Medical and rehabilitation costs, including hospitalizations, surgeries, pain management care, medications, durable medical equipment purchases, and physical therapy
  • Long-term care and support you may need for severe impairments or disabilities that result from your injury
  • Loss of income if you miss work while recovering from the accident
  • Loss of earning capacity and employment benefits if you become permanently unable to work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced enjoyment and quality of life

Insurance Companies Will Try To Minimize Your Financial Recovery for Your Neck Injuries

Many neck injuries, including strains, sprains, and whiplash injuries, don’t appear on diagnostic scans such as X-rays or MRIs. As a result, insurance companies often treat car accident neck injury claims with skepticism. Many insurers believe that car accident victims either exaggerate a neck injury’s severity and debilitating effects or have not suffered an injury. Insurers frequently deny or minimize compensation for neck injury claims.

Some of the strategies that insurance companies use to avoid liability for neck injuries after a car accident include:

  • Pressuring accident victims to accept a settlement as soon as possible after the accident
  • Accusing car accident victims of faking or exaggerating their neck injuries or threatening to report them for insurance fraud
  • Asking an accident victim how they feel and disputing the severity of the claimant’s neck injury if they say they are fine or good
  • Delaying the car accident investigation or not timely responding to calls and emails
  • Assigning liability for the accident to the claimant
  • Sending investigators to surveil neck injury claimants for evidence that contradicts claims of physical impairment, such as observing claimants playing sports or performing housework
  • Monitoring accident victims’ social media profiles
  • Requesting access to a claimant’s medical history, where the insurance company can look for evidence of prior injuries or degenerative conditions
  • Having the claimant submit a written or recorded statement where the adjuster can ask questions designed to elicit answers that the insurance company construes against the claimant

You can protect yourself against the insurance company’s efforts to avoid compensating you for your neck injury by working with an experienced car accident lawyer.

An attorney can help you secure the financial recovery you need for your injury by:

  • Investigating the car accident to secure evidence for your case and identify the driver or other parties you might hold liable for your injuries
  • Documenting your injuries and losses, including working with your doctors and other medical experts to help prove the nature of your injury and impairments
  • Preparing and filing your insurance claims and communicating with adjusters on your behalf
  • Negotiating for a fair settlement that pays you the money you need for your recovery
  • Taking your case to court and advocating for you at trial if necessary

Deadlines for Filing a Car Accident Claim

Under Connecticut’s statute of limitations on injury claims, you must file your car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver or other liable parties within two years of the accident. The court can dismiss your case without considering the merits of your claim if you file a lawsuit after the deadline, and you could lose your right to seek compensation in civil court.

You may have a shorter deadline to file if you get into a car accident with a state or local government vehicle. Depending on the government agency involved, you may have a year or less to file a notice of your claim. Timely notify the government of your car accident claim to ensure you retain your right to recover compensation for your neck injury.

Because you have limited time to pursue your neck injury claim, you should speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you can file your claims in time.

Understand Your Legal Rights After Suffering Neck Injuries in a Car Accident

Car accident victims who suffer neck injuries often find it difficult to recover fair compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and other personal losses. Although you may have little objective medical evidence of your neck injury, you deserve a financial recovery when your injury has a debilitating effect on your ability to work and your quality of life.

Understanding your legal rights for pursuing compensation after a car accident will put you on the right track. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Connecticut can advocate for your financial recovery and demand accountability from an at-fault driver or the insurance company.

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Brian Flood

Partner

Brian has dedicated his entire legal career to helping accident victims. By choice, he has never represented the interests of an insurance company.

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