What Are The Most Common Serious Back Injuries?

back injuries

Imagine you are driving in Hoffman Estates near NOW Arena or Paul Douglas Preserve. Someone slams into your car and you have a severe back injury.

Anyone who has a back injury in an accident knows how painful and debilitating it can be. You could have difficulty walking, standing, driving, sleeping, and more. In addition, you might be entitled to compensation if someone’s negligence caused your back injury. Whatever back injury you have, a serious back injury lawyer in Hoffman Estates can help you Claim Your Justice.

Common Serious Back Injuries

Some accident-related back injuries are much more severe than others. Whatever your back injury is, you should seek immediate medical attention after the accident for a diagnosis and treatment.

Bulging Or Herniated Disc

A common serious back injury after an accident is a bulging or herniated disc. This happens when a disc between the vertebrae is damaged because of excessive force. A spinal disc is sometimes described as a small, thin jelly donut with a soft inside and a hard outside.

A herniated disc means the inside of the disc pushes out through the tough exterior. This may inflame nearby nerves and cause arm and leg numbness and tingling, and even muscle weakness.

However, some people with injured discs do not have debilitating symptoms. Therefore, back surgery is not always required for a herniated disc. Instead, your physician will review treatment options, including medication, epidural shots, rest, and physical therapy.

Spinal Cord Injury

This is the most severe accident-related back injury. When there is damage to the spinal cord or nerves, there may be long-term damage, including loss of sensation and strength or even paralysis. People who have spinal cord injuries are often plagued by infections, too.

This grave injury will require months or years of rehabilitation and care. So, if someone was negligent in the accident, you should work with an attorney to get appropriate compensation.

Fractured Vertebra

A fractured vertebra is also sometimes called a compression fracture. This is a gap or crack in the vertebra. This condition can happen from a car accident.

Lumbar Spine Injury

Your lumbar spine is your lower back and just above the sacrum – the lowest spine area. The lumbar spine includes the largest vertebrae. A severe car accident can damage the muscles in your lumbar spine, causing pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. The vertebrae are referred to as L1 through L5.

Thoracic Spine Injury

This is the spine in the middle and upper back. It is located between your neck and lumbar spine, offering support to your ribcage. Thoracic spine injuries are severe in car accidents. A high-speed car crash may fracture the thoracic spine and lead to permanent nerve damage. The vertebrae are referred to as T1 through T12.

Cervical Spine Injury

This area of the spine is at the neck level and just below the neck. Cervical spine injuries are severe in car accidents. A high-speed car crash may fracture the cervical spine and lead to permanent nerve damage and upper extremity pain and limitation of movement. The vertebrae are referred to as C1 through C7.

Facet Joint Injuries

Facet joints are located between many vertebrae. The nerve roots pass through the facet joints to different body areas. For example, the back’s facet joints allow you to twist or bend in different directions without injuring the spine. However, when facet joints are damaged, they pinch the nerves and cause pain.

Issues with facet joints can happen from back trauma. There may be muscle spasms in the back and pain on the outside of your back. The pain can radiate up and down the spine.

What Should You Do About Back Pain After A Car Accident?

Back injuries often happen in car accidents. The violence of a collision can damage your vertebrae, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Therefore, it is critical to be checked by a doctor immediately. Even if you do not go to the ER directly, set an appointment with a back specialist the same day. Prompt medical treatment for your back injury will get you on the road to recovery faster. In addition, your doctor will determine if there are regular daily activities you should avoid or work restrictions not to aggravate the injury.

For example, carrying your child up the stairs could worsen your back injury. Aggravating the issue can cause a longer recovery and even worsen the damage.

Your physician could order an MRI or x-ray to look for vertebra or disc damage. Your doctor may perform a discography or other type of study to find the problem bone or disc if there is a problem.

Delayed Back Injury Pain

Back pain does not always present acute symptoms. After an accident, your body may flood with endorphins, which mask back pain temporarily. A severe back injury is an excellent example of a car accident injury that may take time to manifest.

After an accident, be aware of any pain or discomfort in your back or spine. Also, note if you have tingling in your hands, feet, arms, or legs. After a severe car accident, it is a good idea to go to the doctor to be examined. If you delay treatment and wind up with a severe back injury, the insurance company will argue your injury is related to something else.

What Is The Value Of A Back Injury Claim?

Every back injury is different, so it is difficult to say what your case may be worth. Some sources say the average settlement value for a back injury in a car accident is between $10,000 and $100,000. Other sources have data that if there is back surgery, the average settlement exceeds $200,000.

Between $10,000 and $50,000 is typical for a back strain or sprain. However, you should have a back injury lawyer in Hoffman Estates review your accident claim for more information.

Compensation for your back injury claim usually includes your economic (medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering and permanent disfigurement).

Economic damage is sometimes referred to as special damages and includes:

  • Past and future medical expenses

Your back injury medical bills will vary based on the injury severity. Some treatments necessary for back injuries are disc surgery, steroid injections, MRIs, physical therapy, and massages. You may also need long-term medical care for a severe back injury with nerve damage or paralysis.

  • Lost income and reduced earning capacity

You are entitled to money for your lost earnings in your back injury claim. Also, you should receive compensation for lost wages in the future. Lost income is usually determined by showing your pay stubs, W-2s, and related financial information. You also should show how much work time you missed and the vacation and sick time used.

Proving your lost future income from your back injury requires economic experts who can show what your earnings should have been without the back injury.

Non-economic damages are often called general damage and include non-monetary damages related to your back injury. These damages are subjective and include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering

The insurance company may use a pain multiplier to figure out how much to award for your pain and suffering from a back injury. This means the economic compensation for lost wages and medical bills is multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. So, for example, if your monetary damages are $20,000 and the multiplier is 3 for pain and suffering, you could receive $80,000.

Having an attorney help, you value pain and suffering is vital to your health and future. Unfortunately, most non-attorneys do not understand what pain and suffering in a back injury case are worth. Back injuries can be excruciating, so be sure you get sufficient compensation for what you are experiencing.

  • Emotional distress

Emotional distress damages may be added if you suffer mentally from your back injury. For example, you may be depressed from the pain and inability to do things you enjoy.

  • Loss of consortium

Sometimes a back injury is so severe, such as paralysis, your loved ones do not enjoy a routine loving relationship with you. This may include the loss of the ability to have sexual relations with a partner.

What Is The Difference Between Whiplash And Back Injuries?

Spinal injuries and whiplash have many of the same symptoms. However, whiplash is in a different category because it is an injury to the neck.

Auto accident victims with extreme neck bending forward and backward bending suffer a whiplash injury. This is a common injury in rear-end crashes. Whiplash causes damage to your neck nerves, discs, tendons, and muscles.

While whiplash is not as severe as other back-related injuries, it can be excruciating and limiting to your activities. See a doctor immediately if you have neck pain after a car accident.

Talk To Our Back Injury Lawyer In Hoffman Estates Now

You may have the most pain if you were recently hurt in a car accident and suffered a severe back injury, you may have the most pain. Being unable to move comfortably, walk, run, and do daily activities can be unbearable.

Our Hoffman Estates back injury lawyers know what it is like to have your life limited by a severe back injury. If someone was negligent in the accident, we could obtain money for your damages and pain.

Claim Your Justice attorneys handle back injury cases in  Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Grove Village, Schaumburg, Hanover Park, and throughout Chicagoland. Please contact Claim Your Justice at 847-434-3555 for more information about your case.

Disclaimer

This information is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an Attorney-Client relationship. An Attorney-Client relationship is created when you sign a written agreement with our law firm. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an Attorney-Client relationship has been established.

Serious Back Injuries You Can Receive Compensation For

back injury

When people are in an accident, one area that you hear them say they injured is their back. It may seem like the back is a relatively simple, singular, large part of the body. However, the back is actually made up of a number of complex structures, which can lead to a number of different kinds of injuries that can vary in their severity, seriousness, and how much they can disable you after an accident.

To understand the different types of back injuries, it is important to try to understand the anatomy of the back, and how your back actually works.

The Structures and Anatomy of Your Back and Spine

You may have seen skeletal models or pictures, showing the individual, bony structures that go up and down your back. These bones are there for a reason: They protect the delicate nerves that make up your spine. Your spinal nerves or the spinal column run through these bones, and these bones act like a shield so that you are not paralyzed from a slight impact to your back.

But of course, bones do not move, which is why each bone is separate—specifically, each one is a vertebra. To keep the vertebrae from rubbing against each other and causing pain as you move, there are soft, jelly-like substances between each one, called discs. These discs allow you to flex your back, and move it in any position that you want.

The vertebrae are held to other vertebrae by ligaments, which attach bones to each other. Ligaments are everywhere in your body, not just your back (in fact you may have heard of popular athletes suffering anterior cruciate ligament injuries in their knees). Ligaments also connect your bones to muscles.

Because they connect your skeleton to itself and to your muscles, ligaments are always moving and can be easily stretched or torn in an accident.

When a ligament is injured in the back (lumbar) or neck (cervical) area, it is called a sprain or a strain (sometimes, these injuries are called “whiplash,” but they certainly can be more serious than what that word implies).

Sprains and strains often do not show up on traditional scans or X-rays, certainly not on ones that are done at the typical emergency room. Additionally, it can sometimes take a few hours, even a full day, before the victim feels pain.

Just as these injuries are slow to manifest themselves, they can be slow to heal—although not considered the most serious back injury, sprains and strains can be debilitating, painful, and though they may improve over time, in many cases, they never fully heal, and the victim will have pain that can vary between daily and intermittent.

Fractured Vertebrae

Since vertebrae are bones, they can break or fracture. Vertebra can be damaged by being pulled apart, being “squeezed” due to an impact such as a fall, or when there is compression of some kind on the spine.

Fractures to vertebrae usually can be seen on traditional X-rays, and often are diagnosed in hospital emergency rooms right after an accident.

Just like anywhere else in your body, the severity of a spinal fracture can vary. Thankfully, smaller fractures can heal on their own, with some rest and immobility, and most fractures do not affect the spinal nerves or the use or function of the body.

But more significant fractures may displace parts of the vertebra and may require surgical intervention. Very serious fractures can move the vertebrae enough that they threaten the spinal cord, and thus, carry a risk of paralysis, and surgical intervention may be needed.

Ruptured and Herniated Discs

Remember those jelly-like discs that allowed your vertebrae to move around freely, and kept your vertebrae from rubbing against each other? They can be injured also. Often, in an accident, the vertebrae in your spine can have so much force put on them, that they can squeeze the discs in your back too much, and the discs can either jut out of place, or they can rupture, spilling part of what is inside of them.

In either case, you can be in serious pain because of how close those discs are to your spinal cord. If a disc juts out just enough to touch or rub against your spinal cord, you can be left with serious, ongoing pain. The pain may also show up as numbness, tingling in your extremities, or feelings that your extremities are burning.

In more serious cases, the discs can impinge on your spinal cord so much that you may lose bladder or bowel control. You may experience weakness in your muscles or shooting pain.

Even if the ruptured or herniated disc does not intrude on the spinal cord, the disc can be flattened enough that vertebrae in your back start to rub against each other, causing you pain as they grind against each other, wearing down. In the long term, osteoarthritis or bone spurs in the back can result from a lack of cushion from the discs.

There are some surgical options for disc injuries, such as having a disc removed, and then fusing the surrounding vertebrae together, or implanting an artificial disc. Short of surgery, the victim may need to get epidural steroid injections, which can, for extended periods of time, alleviate pain, but they are not a permanent solution or repair to the ruptured or herniated discs themselves.

It is true that your discs naturally flatten, or jut out of place, over time, as you age, especially if you engage in a lot of physical activity. Your doctor can assist you in determining whether your herniated disc is a result of your accident or some other cause.

Paralysis and the Kinds of Paralysis

Of course, the worst back injury someone can have will result in paralysis. Paralysis is where a vertebra or a disc has been so moved out of place because of an impact, that it “cuts off” or completely severs the nerves in your spine, which are how your brain tells your body to move or perform other vital functions.

Think of paralysis as being a bridge that is missing a piece or a roadway that has been blocked by a large boulder. The signals that need to move along the “roadway” of your spinal nerves cannot get from Point A to Point B.

The location of the injury can determine what areas of the body are affected. Paraplegia is when only the legs or lower body is affected, and full quadriplegia is paralysis everywhere below the neck.

Immediately after a serious accident, doctors may suggest emergency surgery to try to alleviate as much pressure on the spinal nerves as possible, as quickly as possible, to minimize the severity and extent of any long-term paralysis.

Contrary to popular belief, paralysis is not all or nothing; many people suffer partial paralysis, which may leave them with some function or feeling in the affected areas.

There is some evidence to show that getting immediate medical attention and therapy after a potentially paralyzing injury, can return some function to paralyzed areas. However, the research also shows that the therapy and treatment must be given quickly after the accident for it to be effective.

There is currently no complete cure for paralysis, and lifelong medical attention for paralysis victims can be very expensive, depending on the nature and extent of the disability and injury that is suffered. In many lawsuits involving paralysis, experts will be brought in to explain to the jury the lifelong expenses that the victim will incur because of the paralysis (which can grow into millions of dollars).

Get Legal and Medical Help

As you can see, there is a wide variety of anatomy in your back that can be injured, when you are involved in an accident. Your back is a complex structure which is why every back injury should be taken seriously.

In many cases, hospital emergency rooms are not equipped to do a full diagnosis. That is why you should get medical help and attention from a specialist immediately after an accident. Never ignore signs and symptoms immediately after an accident, as they could indicate more serious problems. As you have seen, many back injuries can more effectively heal when they are treated right away.

Contact Our Schaumburg Back Injury Lawyers

If you have a back injury of any kind, serious or minor, you need legal help. The insurance company will not simply admit you have a back injury–in fact, back injuries are injuries that insurance companies and defendants often fight the hardest.

Call our Schaumburg back injury lawyers at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555 to help you if you have suffered any kind of back injury.

What is the Average Payout for a Back Injury in Illinois?

back injury

If you suffer a back injury because of someone else’s negligence, you may be in a desperate situation. Bills are mounting, you may be out of work, and your life may have suddenly changed now that you can no longer – do as much or do as well – the daily things that you used to do. That’s why you may be wondering what you can expect as far as compensation when you make a claim against an insurance company or file a lawsuit after suffering a back injury in Illinois.

Jury Verdicts

The first thing to understand is how injuries are evaluated by insurance companies and defendants when they make settlement offers.

Insurance companies don’t just randomly make settlement offers to accident victims. They make their offers based on what amounts they have settled or juries in other trials have awarded claimants who have suffered injuries that are similar to yours.

Of course, every claimant is different, every case is different, and every jury is different. In fact, one jury doesn’t have to follow what another jury awarded, even if two injuries in two different cases are very similar. There is no book or law that dictates “a herniated disc should be paid $175,000.”

This means that over time, looking at averages, insurance companies will look to see what juries normally award for a given type of injury, and the insurance company will likely make you an offer that falls somewhere below that average. Your back injury lawyer in Palatine will have experience in settlements they have negotiated for clients. It is important to also know that there are data services that provide jury verdicts results. An experienced back injury lawyer will have access to these databases. You must remember that whatever a prior jury gave someone else, doesn’t mean that another jury will award the same thing in any other case.

You Will Be Scrutinized

The insurance company or defendant also may look at your conduct in the accident that occurred to see if you have responsibility for your own injuries. If so, they will reduce what they offer in settlement to you accordingly. In other words, if you were hit by a car, but you were drunk and walking in the middle of the highway, even though you may be catastrophically injured, the compensation you can expect will be reduced because of your own conduct.

There are other factors insurance companies and defendants consider, that don’t even have to do with your back. For example, they will ask whether you are a “sympathetic” plaintiff/claimant. In other words, do you seem genuine, are you likable, and will a jury, at trial, if your case ever proceeds to trial, like and relate to you? How has the injury affected you – do you have young kids, or a physical job, where a back injury could significantly alter the course of your life?

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

The defendant or insurance company will then evaluate what your damages could be at a trial. This is essentially an analysis of your damages, both economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages

In a back injury case, you likely have economic damages. These are the types of damages that you can add up.

For example, a medical bill is economic damage. You can look at the bill and tell exactly what your doctors charged. The same is true for lost wages. You can see how many weeks you were out of work because of the accident, and calculating your income, figure out exactly how much in wages you have lost.

Economic damages also include future medical expenses. For example, if your doctor says that you may need follow-up surgery, or your doctor says that you may need to miss 3 weeks of work every year, because of flare-ups in your back condition, these are future damages that the jury will be persuaded to take into consideration.

Non-Economic Damages

The defendant and insurance company will also look at non-economic damages. These are damages that you can’t count. These damages do not have bills and there is no exact calculation to measure them.

For example, there is no exact price tag on the amount of pain and suffering your back injury has caused you. There is no exact value to the loss of being able to hold your child, being unable to play your favorite sport, or not being able to go to work every day without pain.

Non-economic damages can include anxiety, depression, PTSD, or the loss of the enjoyment or quality of your life caused by your injury. You may notice that these aren’t necessarily injuries to your back – they are psychological or emotional. That’s okay, the defendant still must compensate you for these damages. For example, your depression after your accident isn’t part of your back. But it may certainly be caused by the limitations you now have, or the financial problems you now face, because of your back injury.

The insurance company will put a value on these non-economic damages, which will be based on what your back injury lawyer in Palatine details and explains to the insurance company about your life (and based on what you say in a deposition, should your lawsuit be filed in court).

Types of Back Injuries

The defendant or insurance company will also look at what type of back injury you have. There are a lot of different kinds of back injuries. Some may recover almost completely in time, while others can be permanently debilitating, for the remainder of your life.

Sprains and Strains

Like other parts of your body, the skeletal bones in your spine (called your vertebrae) are connected to each other, and to your musculature, by ligaments and tendons. And, like other parts of your body, those ligaments and tendons can be pulled, stretched, or even tear completely.

When these ligaments pull or stretch, these are called sprains or strains. Although they are sometimes called (in a derogatory way) “whiplash,” in fact these kinds of injuries can be quite serious. It is generally not recommended by a physician to surgically operate on a sprain or strain, and depending on your health, age, and the severity of the sprain or strain, the pain you have may be with you forever.

Disc Injuries

The vertebrae in your back are flexible, as you can tell because you can bend forward and backward. This happens because the bones aren’t rubbing against each other. There is a jelly-like cushion between each vertebra. These are your discs. In a serious accident, the discs can be pushed out of place, start to bulge or herniate, or even rupture. When that happens, they can push against the nerves in your spinal column.

Budging, herniated, or ruptured discs may need surgery. In other cases, they cannot be repaired surgically (or surgery is not recommended), but with therapy, the pain you feel can be minimized. Pain from disc problems can be very significant, and in serious cases, people can lose function, such as bladder control, if the disc pushes too hard on the wrong area of your spinal cord.

The vertebrae themselves can fracture, as they are bones. A fractured vertebrae can be very debilitating.

Paralysis

Of course, all these injuries are much more preferable to what many consider to be the ultimate back injury: paralysis, which can be fully or partially.

When a vertebra or a disc is pushed so far into the spinal column that the spinal nerves are “cut off” or damaged, you can experience paralysis. The degree of severity will depend on where in your back the injury occurred (upper or lower back). Also, to some degree, how quickly you get medical attention. There is some evidence that quick medical intervention and therapy are correlated with the extent of recovery. Your back injury attorney in Palatine has had a case like this and can help you maximize the amount of money you recover.

Your Age

If you have some idea what your back injury may be worth after accounting for all of these factors, you then need to account for your age. For example, if the medical evidence says that you will miss a month every year because of flare-ups in your back condition, those lost wages will have to be multiplied by how many working years you have left.

How Did You Recover or Heal?

Whatever type of injury you have, the insurance company or defendant will need to see how well or how fully you recover. Everybody claimant’s body is different. The value of your case will be higher, the less that you are able to heal or recover and get your life back to normal (in that case, of course, you would rather get as healthy as possible, even if it means the value of your case goes down). Sometimes, it can take time to see how well you will heal, or how well certain medical procedures help you before your back injury case can be valued.

The Settlement Process

Remember that the defendant or insurance company is trying to resolve the case by paying as little money as possible. It may take time to get the true value of what you have endured. Your back injury lawyer in Palatine can help you evaluate whether any offer made by the insurance company is fair or not, and what your chances are of getting more-or less-are, are by going forward with your case in court.

Call our back injury attorneys in Palatine at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555 to help you with your car or truck accident case.