Car accidents with injuries are, unfortunately, a common event in New York. Approximately 11,400 New Yorkers are rushed to the emergency room each month following a car accident. One thousand are hospitalized due to the severity of their injuries.
Back injuries are one of the most common injuries resulting from an auto accident. Because your back plays a key role in your body’s movement, even a minor back injury can significantly disrupt your life and cause serious pain.
The compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at The Coppola Firm offer free consultations to best assist you. Call our law firm today at 716-839-9700 to speak with a member of our legal team.
How Do Car Accidents Cause Back Injuries?
The force of a car accident is a primary contributor to back injury, along with a sudden jolt or jarring of the vehicle. The violent motion that occurs can be quite damaging to your back, muscles, ligaments, soft tissues, and facet joints, leaving sprains, strains, fractures, and other types of injuries. Even minor car crashes or fender benders can leave a driver or passenger with severe pain and injury.
Injured Your Back in a Car Accident? Seek Medical Attention As Soon As Possible.
In the aftermath of a car crash, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you feel back pain, discomfort, or something else just does not “feel right.” A healthcare professional can examine you and ask questions to rule out or diagnose any back or neck injuries, some of which may be serious.
If you have been in a car accident, there is a chance you have sustained an injury. Even if you do not think you are hurt, it is still a good idea to get examined just in case. Often, a hidden injury occurs with the severity of the back injury surfacing days or weeks after the crash. Your healthcare provider can share with you what warning symptoms or red flags you should watch out for when you return home.
What are Common Symptoms of a Back Injury?
In the aftermath of a collision, you may start to experience symptoms. Common indications of back injury include:
Any compression fractures, swelling, back sprains, and other complications after a crash can cause extreme pain. Some back pain is so severe it is debilitating. Even minor back pain can get worse.
Tingling or Numbness
Your spinal cord connects to your extremities. If injured, you may suffer pinched nerves, which can cause tingling or numbness in areas of your body.
Discomfort During Walking, Standing, and Other Daily Tasks
With a back injury, physical activity, even the simplest of movements, can lead to mild or severe pain.
Muscles tense up to protect areas of the body which can lead to stiffness.
Pinching in the Neck, Shoulders, and Back
With various kinds of back injuries, you might feel pinching, which can affect your neck, shoulders, and back, even if that is not the area that feels hurt.
Other symptoms you may experience include sudden sharp pains, burning pains, muscle spasms, headaches, or dizziness.
9 Types of Common Back Injuries Caused By Car Accidents
Car accidents cause many types of injuries. Some of the most common are:
A common type of injury that occurs during a motor vehicle collision is whiplash. Characterized by rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, whiplash most often occurs in rear-end collisions but can happen in other types of accidents as well. Symptoms typically emerge in the days following an accident. While many victims heal after some time, some whiplash injuries can cause chronic pain and leave long-lasting adverse effects.
2. Lumbar Injuries
The lumbar spine is the lower back area of your body and contains the five largest vertebrae. These bones provide your body with the stability it needs. If the lumbar area is injured, it can be severely painful. Injuries to the lumbar spine can also make movement limited and cause excruciating pain.
3. Thoracic Injuries
Injuries to the thoracic spine, which is your upper back, tend to be serious. If these areas suffer sprains or fractures, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. In severe cases and depending on where the injury occurs on the back, victims may suffer paraplegia or a loss of bowel and bladder control.
4. Herniated Discs
Discs are responsible for protecting your spine and cushioning each of its vertebrae. Often confused with bulging discs (another painful injury), herniated discs put pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. Herniation can cause intense pain, numbness, weakness, and interfere with your mobility.
If a vertebra is displaced by a stress fracture or slips forward over the vertebra beneath it going out of alignment, this condition is known as spondylolisthesis. After an accident, primary types of spondylolisthesis can occur: traumatic and degenerative. Pain levels can vary. Victims may feel weak or numb, while some might find walking difficult because of the intense pain caused when the vertebrae push against the spinal canal.
6. Discogenic Pain
Car accident victims who damage their spinal discs often feel sharp pains or shooting sensations, referred to as discogenic pain. Some people have pain in their legs accompanying it.
7. Back Strain
Back strains occur when your soft tissue is stretched too far, leading to damage in your tendons. Only a physician can diagnose this type of injury since routine imaging does not detect strain injuries.
8. Degenerative Spinal Disorders
A traumatic spine injury can result in a degenerative disc disorder condition that occurs months or years after the accident. Problems associated with degenerative spinal disorders include spinal osteoarthritis, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, bulging and herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis, pinched nerves, sciatica, and degenerative scoliosis.
9. Spinal Cord Injuries
When a spinal cord injury occurs, any damage sustained in any part of your spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal can lead to permanent changes. Permanent conditions include loss of body functions, changes in strength, changes in sensation, or partial/total paralysis.
When identifying these nine or other types of back injuries, healthcare providers typically run diagnostic tests to diagnose back injuries using CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. Through tests, doctors can also check the cervical spine, ligaments, and other key areas of the back and neck for any facet joint injuries, soft tissue injuries, or injuries to nerve roots.
How Do I Treat a Back Injury From a Car Accident?
Motor vehicle accident victims suffering upper or lower back pain often take pain medication in tandem with other treatment methods. After you see your doctor, they will provide you with specific treatments to follow depending on the types of back injuries you have sustained.
As with most injuries, resting allows the body to heal. Too much activity can make an injury worse. You want to avoid that as much as you possibly can.
Ice and Heat
Ice treatments are usually recommended within the first two days of an injury. The cold generated from the ice helps to reduce inflammation and provide a bit of relief. Heat treatments help heal tissues by decreasing stiffness, boosting blood flow, and improving tissue flexibility. Good methods of applying heat include heating pads, hot packs, saunas, and whirlpool baths.
Physical therapy (PT) is often a highly-recommended form of treatment for certain back injuries. Professional PTs assist with stretching and strengthening of muscles and soft tissues. They also provide supervised exercises where warranted. Between the two, patients can get their mobility and strength back.
In the early stage of an injury, many people take ibuprofen (or another OTC medication) to relieve pain and swelling. If these medications do not help, you must speak to your doctor. They may prescribe stronger medications to help manage pain and symptoms.
Additional Medical Treatment
Other common treatments for back injuries involve massage, Theracane, or chiropractic care. Talk to your physician to see if they recommend any of these options for your specific injury.
Types of back injuries vary, so back treatments for car accident victims will depend upon the specific injury. If you are still in pain after conventional treatment methods, doctors may prescribe injections or even surgery.
How Long Will My Back Hurt After a Car Accident?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess how long your recovery time for your back will be after an accident, but on average, it is about six weeks. For some victims, the pain only lasts a few days. For others, it takes weeks or longer. Sadly, others suffer chronic, ongoing pain. A physician can give you the most accurate information.
Can I Get Compensation for My Back Injury After a Car Accident?
Personal injuries, such as minor fractures or lacerations, heal and fade away over time. Other types, such as back injuries, can significantly disrupt your quality of life by preventing you from performing work duties or enjoying leisure activities you love.
Many auto accident victims struggling with back injuries need extensive medical treatment, therapy, pain management, and medication. Medical intervention generally gets costly. Insurance may cover some of these costs, but it is not a given. Furthermore, insurance policy coverage may not be enough.
As a no-fault state, New York State requires people to first file with their own insurance company, even if another person caused the accident to occur. However, Section 5102(d) of New York Insurance Law also allows accident victims sustaining a “serious injury” to file a personal injury lawsuit to help them get the compensation they need.
While every case is different, settlements for a back injury typically range from $10,000 to $500,000, and even more in extreme cases. If you have suffered a back injury, you may be entitled to compensation covering medical bills, medication, lost wages, property damages, ambulance fees, rehabilitation, and pain and suffering.
Should I Hire a New York Personal Injury Lawyer After Hurting My Back in a Car Accident?
Yes, you should call an experienced New York personal injury lawyer and do it quickly. Back injuries can get expensive, and insurance companies are experienced in avoiding paying people or offering paltry settlements that do not cover medical bills or lost wages.
By speaking with an attorney right away, you can document the details of your case. If injuries are worse than you thought or chronic pain begins, you will already have your injury claim in order. New York State carries a three-year statute of limitations, starting on the accident’s date. While three years sounds like plenty of time, keep in mind it takes time to gather evidence and build a strong case. There also are much shorter deadlines for filing the required insurance paperwork.
At The Coppola Firm, we can help you meet filing deadlines, and we know how to handle insurance companies. While insurance adjusters may act kindly toward you, your best interests are not their priority. It is best to let a skilled attorney handle any interactions with insurance representatives as they have a history of trying to get victims to say something they can use to justify denying a payout.
Do Not Let a Bad Back Cost You Thousands
If you or a loved one suffered a collision and suspect a back injury, do not hesitate to call an injury attorney experienced with litigation regarding New York car accident injuries. The costs of treating a back injury can add up over the years. Furthermore, insurance companies often undercut how severe an injury really is to the victim and how it might affect their life in the present and future.
The experienced attorneys at The Coppola Firm want to help you. Our law firm offers free consultations for personal injury cases, along with free advice videos. Leading a woman-owned law firm, Lisa Coppola boasts more than 30 years of legal experience and is recognized as a New York Super Lawyer.