Brad Nakase, Attorney
Car Accident: Back and Spine Injuries
At some point in your lifetime, you are bound to be involved in a car accident, collision, or personal injury. In general, most Americans are involved in at least three to four accidents within their lifetime.
Each year, over 4.5 million people are injured in car accidents, many of which result in injuries to the spine and soft tissue.
Every back injury differs, some being more severe than others. Back injuries can range from mild strains to permanent disabilities. Whether or not your back injury is severe or not, you deserve fair compensation for your suffering.
To receive fair compensation, you must first know how to build a strong claim for your insurance as well as how to avoid things that can work against you. This article is meant to guide you in filing an insurance claim and how to handle it.
Common Back Injuries from Car Accidents
Even though back injuries have been reduced by the innovations of car safety procedures such as seatbelts and airbags, bag injuries are still fairly common. The most common injuries reported from car accidents are usually to the neck and back.
Understanding the Areas of the Back
The human back can be hard to understand with its networks of tendons, muscles, and ligaments as well as the vertebrae, discs, and spinal cord.
To understand the back better, you must first understand each part. Vertebrae are the bones in your back, and they have an opening that allows the spinal cord to pass through. Facet joints can be found above and below each vertebra.
Disks function as the cushions between each vertebra. These allow for the shock to be absorbed more easily.
Finally, the spinal cord is the most crucial part of your back. The spinal cord is a long bundle of nerve fibers that connect almost every part of your body to your brain.
The spine itself can be divided into these sections:
Depending on how forceful the impact was in the accident, various parts of the back can be injured.
Because the spinal cord runs through the entirety of your back, back injuries can cause an immense amount of pain and possibly even disability. Spinal cord injuries include:
Diagnosing and Treating Back Injuries
After an accident, your doctor will examine and evaluate your back. They will look specifically at how you can sit, stand, bend, lift your legs, and walk. You must inform your doctor that you were in an accident so that they can look for these things. Depending on what the doctor finds, they will either send you home to rest or order additional tests.
Frequent Tests Done for Back Injuries
Medical/Surgical Back Treatments
When first treating car accident victims, doctors use non-invasive methods to reduce pain and improve movement. Most doctors start with medications that reduce pain, back spasms, and swelling.
Commonly Prescribed Medications
Physical Therapy and Exercise
For mild injuries such as strains, sprains, and tearing, doctors will advise you to get rest, go to physical therapy, and practice gentle exercises. Most of these injuries will heal within a month.
Alternate Back Treatments
There are alternative treatment options that will help to receive symptoms in a non-invasive manner. However, be wary that insurance companies are not usually keen on paying for alternate treatments. Alternate treatments can include:
Pursuing the Other Driver for Compensation
If you currently reside in a no-fault insurance state, file your claim with your insurance even if you were not at fault.
Your personal-injury-protection coverage will allow for reimbursement of any costs relating to your injury. This coverage includes any medical treatment, chiropractic care, out-of-pocket expenses, or lost wages.
The overall cost of soft-tissue injuries is not to go above the limits of your personal-injury-protection coverage. However, if you are suffering from severe back injuries, you can pursue the other driver for compensation if they were at fault.
If you live in a state where no-fault laws do not limit you, first file a claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
When they say ‘damages,’ it relates to any costs associated with injuries or damage from the accident.
Property damages pertain to car repairment, car rental, or car value if it is totaled.
You can also file property damage claims for any items lost or damaged in the accident such as clothing, phones, etc.
Managing the Insurance Adjuster
Once you file an insurance claim, you will be provided a claim number and a claim adjuster. Whether the adjuster is treating you with overt kindness or is treating you horribly, you need to act professionally.
The adjuster is trained to get things out of you that they may use as leverage against your claim. Be tedious when giving any recorded statement and never consent to a statement when under medication, angry, or not in the right mind space.
Take careful consideration when signing your medial release papers as well. While adjusters need current medical bills and records concerning the accident, any other medical records are not required. You are liable to get a release limited solely to back injury.
If you are concerned at all about either a personal statement or a release, contact a personal injury attorney before moving forward.
Once you fully recover from your injury, you can calculate your total claim. Calculate your claim by adding up all of your bills and expenses and add a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.
Come prepared to back up all of your damages. The adjuster will try to pick apart your claim but stay strong and be persistent.
They won’t just write a check and hand it over. You first have to prove that the other driver was at fault for your injuries.
The Power of Having Good Evidence
To prove that the other driver was at fault, you need evidence. Some forms of evidence include:
When to Seek Legal Assistance
Usually, soft-tissue injury claims can be settled quickly with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Your compensation will cover any expenses paid for your injury, whether it be medical or out-of-pocket.
Each state has its own designated deadline called a statute of limitations. This statute sets a time frame for how long you have to either settle a claim or file a lawsuit. Some lime limits are as short as a year.
If you have yet to settle or file before the statute runs out, you lose all rights for compensation. You mustn’t wait to seek an attorney.
Sever back injuries such as ruptured disks can be both expensive and disabling. These injuries should allow for compensation in long-term expenses and future losses.
However, insurance companies are famous for offering low settlements to victims not represented by attorneys. They know that most people neither have the energy nor the time to fight their offer.
There is too much at stake to face the insurance company by yourself. To get fair compensation for your injury, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. It costs nothing to see what an attorney can do for you and your case.
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If you or someone you love need an aggressive and compassionate attorney who will listen and aggressively protect your interest, we invite you to call attorney Brad for a free consultation.
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Low Back Pain Fact Sheet – Nat’l Institute of Neurological Disorders