In 2015, 70 percent of the motor vehicle accidents that occurred in the U.S. involved colliding with another moving vehicle. Also, the National Safety Council states that in 2016 there were 3,144,000 injuries sustained during car crashes. These injuries consisted of disabling and non-disabling conditions. In the United States, automobile and motorcycle accidents account for approximately 40 percent of new spinal cord injuries (SCIs) annually.
Any traumatic blow to the spine during a car accident can cause a spinal cord injury. This sudden blow could fracture, crush, compress or dislocate one, or more of the vertebrae. Unfortunately, damage usually continues over the days and weeks following the car crash. This damage is caused by the inflammation, bleeding and fluid accumulation that is occurring in and around the spinal cord.
Furthermore, due to the excess adrenaline an individual releases during stressful situations, the onset of back pain may not be evident immediately; therefore, delayed back pain after a car accident is common.
Possible causes of neck and back pain after a car accident include:
- slipped discs;
- bulging/herniated discs;
- back sprain/strain; or
Symptoms Associated with Back Injuries Following a Car Accident
The symptoms an individual experiences depends on the location of the injury and the type of injury sustained.
Common symptoms of a back injury include:
- difficulty moving;
- tenderness or pain;
- pain that increases with movement, sneezing, coughing and/or laughing;
- difficulty standing upright;
- muscle spasms;
- pain that radiates down one leg or both legs; and/or
How a Spinal Cord Injury Results from a Back Injury
When a back injury occurs during an automobile accident, if the nerve fibers that pass through the area become damaged as well, the corresponding muscles and nerves below the injury may be impaired.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
If damage occurs to any section of the spinal cord or the nerves located at the end of the spinal canal, changes in sensation, strength as well as bodily functions can occur below the injured area.
An injury to the nerve fibers in the lumbar (lower) or thoracic (chest) region can negatively affect an individuals:
- leg sensory and movement;
- bowel control;
- bladder control;
- sexual function; and/or
- ability to move his or her torso.
A cervical (neck) injury may affect the same areas as those listed above as well as the individuals:
- arms; and
- ability to breathe.
Other symptoms commonly associated with a spinal cord injury include:
- an intense stinging sensation or pain (caused by damage to the nerve fibers);
- muscle spasms; and
- exaggerated reflexes.
The severity of a spinal cord injury is usually called ‘the completeness’ and classified as either:
- Incomplete – the individual has some sensory (feeling) or motor (movement) function below the injury.
- Complete – the individual has lost all sensory as well as motor function below the injury.
Familiar terms that are used to describe the extent of an individual’s disability include quadriplegia (i.e., tetraplegia) and paraplegia. Quadriplegia refers to an individual whose legs, trunk, hands, pelvic organs, and arms are affected by his or her SCI. Paraplegia refers to an individual whose legs, pelvic organs and trunk are affected by the spinal cord injury.
Seeking treatment directly following a car accident is crucial because the time between injury and treatment may determine the extent of the injury as well as the expected length of recovery.
The 2017 Estimated Annual Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury in the United States
The classification of an SCI (ABC or D) is determined by the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS).
Costs associated with a spinal cord injury in USD:
- The average annual expenses associated with the first year of suffering from an injury that led to paraplegia totals nearly $540,000 with each year thereafter costing approximately $71,000 (AIS ABC).
- Those suffering from high tetraplegia (C1-C4) $1,102,000 for the first year and around $200,000 each subsequent year (AIS ABC).
- Individuals suffering from low tetraplegia (C5-C8) nearly $800,000 for the first year and approximately $120,000 each year after that (AIS ABC).
- A motor function disability at any other level costs approximately $360,000 for the year following the onset of the injury and about $44,000 for each year that follows (AIS D).
How Much to Expect from a Back Injury Settlement
If an individual is successful in proving his or her case, the amount of compensation is determined by his or her specific circumstances; therefore, each case is unique. The only way to know if you have a case and find out what your case may be worth is to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer. If you choose to hire an attorney to represent you, you could receive a back-injury settlement award for the damages you have suffered due to the fault of the other driver(s).
Contact a Back Injury Attorney For Help
If you are in West Virginia and you have sustained a back, neck or spinal cord injury, contact Johnstone & Gabhart LLP today. Please fill out our online form or call the office at 304.343.7100, or toll-free at 877.416.5457 to schedule your free initial consultation. We are happy to review your case and determine if legal action can be taken. Our personal injury law firm proudly serves clients in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky.