The spine is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and trauma to any part of the back can cause lifelong problems. In fact, back injuries are the leading cause of prolonged disability, with victims losing a substantial amount of time from work and other activities. Some back injuries are so severe that they cause paralysis, requiring the victim to use a wheelchair for mobility. But that’s the exception, not the rule. Even less severe back injuries warrant compensation for the pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life when it’s been caused by somebody else’s negligence.
If somebody else caused your back injury, we can help you obtain the financial compensation you’re entitled to. Please call the Orange County personal injury lawyers at Crockett Law Group to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights.
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Types of Back Injuries
Back injuries can generally be lumped into one of three different categories: (1) sprains and strains, (2) herniated or bulging discs, and (3) fractures.
Spains and Strains
Sprains and strains of the back usually respond well to conservative treatment, like chiropractic adjustments or physical therapy. It’s important to note that sprains and strains are technically different. A “sprain” refers to an injury to a ligament, whereas a “strain” refers to an injury to a tendon or muscle. A “ligament” is the fibrous tissue that connects bones to each other. A “tendon” is the fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. A “muscle” is the fibrous tissue that has the ability to contract.
Herniated or Bulging Discs
Herniated or bulging discs are serious injuries to the spine that can cause a tremendous amount of pain when they exert pressure on spinal nerves. Disc injuries are objectively diagnosed with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) after conservative treatment fails to relieve the pain, usually after at least 6 weeks. A spinal disc is made up of two parts, an annulus, and a nucleus. The annulus is a tough outer layer of cartilage that encases the nucleus, a gel-like inner layer made up of softer cartilage.
When a disc bulges, the nucleus presses against the annulus, causing the disc to bulge outward. When a disc is herniated, the nucleus not only presses against the annulus, but it pushes completely through and squeezes out of the disc. Sometimes you’ll see a disc herniation referred to as a disc protrusion on an MRI, but they’re the same thing. Disc herniations or protrusions are generally more serious than disc bulges. When conservative treatment is unsuccessful, epidural injections or surgery may be required.
Spinal fractures are generally classified into one of three distinct categories:
Any of these three types of fractures can become dislocated if the vertebra moves significantly. It’s first important to note that there are three columns to the spine:
- Anterior (front)
- Posterior (back)
A compression fracture can occur when a part of the vertebra collapses under pressure. A wedge fracture, for example, is a type of compression fracture that affects only the anterior column. Flexion-distraction fractures, sometimes referred to as seat belt fractures, occur when the upper body is suddenly pushed forward while the waist and lower body remain stationary. These fractures usually involve the posterior and middle spinal columns. A burst fracture occurs when the vertebra is completely crushed in all directions. A burst fracture is the most severe type of spinal fracture because the bone spreads out and thus it could potentially damage the spinal cord.
Can You Get Lower Back Pain from a Car Accident?
Yes, you can absolutely experience lower back pain as a result of a car accident. In fact, lower back pain is the most common type of injury that occurs after a car accident. Sometimes you don’t notice any back pain right away because adrenaline is masking it, but then you wake up the next morning with pain in your lower back.
This is because even a seemingly minor car accident can cause an excessive amount of stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your lower back. This is commonly referred to as a sprain or strain. A car accident can also put an undue amount of stress on your spinal column that results in a disc moving out of place and putting pressure on your nerves or spinal cord.
How Do You Know If a Back Injury Is Serious?
Car accidents are traumatic, and when your back hurts it’s anxiety-provoking to wonder whether the pain is serious. The best way to find out is to see a doctor that specializes in spine injuries that can examine you and determine whether your back injury is serious. An x-ray will show whether there is a fracture or dislocation, which are the most serious types of back injuries.
If the x-rays are negative, most strains and sprains will resolve within a few months with physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, or a combination of these modalities. If the pain persists for a few months, a doctor can determine if a back injury that’s resistant to conservative treatment is serious by ordering a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI.) The MRI results will show whether there are serious soft-tissue injuries such as bulging or herniated discs that are responsible for the pain.
What Should I Do If I Hurt My Back in a Car Accident?
If you hurt your back in a car accident, it’s a good idea to go to the emergency room from the scene to see if immediate treatment is necessary. Sometimes back pain doesn’t begin after a car accident until the following day, in which case you should go to an emergency room or an urgent care center as soon as you become aware of any pain. It’s also a good idea to contact an Orange County back injuries lawyer to discuss a possible lawsuit to collect money damages as compensation for your injuries. Deadlines can be short, so it’s a good idea to call as soon as possible.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Back Injury?
Minor back injuries usually resolve within a few months, but more serious injuries to the spine can require years of treatment and there may never be a full recovery. Some back injuries may require several surgeries and an extensive amount of in-patient rehabilitation. Catastrophic injuries to the spine can cause paralysis that may or may not be temporary, and it may take many years of therapy to achieve even a small amount of mobility. Promptly getting the proper testing and treatment for your back injury is the best way to ensure the fullest possible recovery in the shortest amount of time.
How Much Compensation Will I Get For a Back Injury?
There are two types of compensation available to accident victims that have suffered back injuries, economic and non-economic. Economic compensation is reimbursement for out of pocket medical costs, current and future lost earnings, and other reasonable expenses incurred due to your back injury.
For serious back injuries, just the economic damages can get a very large amount of compensation, but the largest awards are usually for non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and mental anguish. It’s sometimes possible to collect money for close relatives that lost “services” and companionship from a back-injury victim. It’s not unusual for compensation for back injury victims to be a million dollars or more.
Contact an Orange County Back Injury Lawyer Today
Contact our Orange County back injuries attorney to find out how to get the highest possible amount of compensation. We’ll review the facts of your case, explain the process, and develop a strategy to suit your matter. Call (800) 900-9393 to schedule a free consultation.