Can I Recover Compensation for Neck Injuries
October 11, 2021
Neck injuries affect many victims across the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic, neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability. Hundreds of thousands of families endure lost wages, ongoing medical bills, and pain and suffering that may never fully go away. Injury victims must understand their legal rights.
By learning more about the causes of neck injuries, common medical treatments, and how a neck injury can affect your life, you will be in the best possible position to protect your legal rights after any accident.
The Common Causes of Neck Injuries
There are many ways the neck can be injured. It is a small structure that carries a huge amount of weight from the skull and brain. This design leaves the neck is incredibly vulnerable to injuries in a variety of ways. Here are some of the common causes of neck injuries across the United States.
Car accidents are one of the most common ways that neck injuries occur. According to the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, there are three million new cases of whiplash every year in the United States. Whiplash is most likely to occur in a car accident (especially if the victim gets hit from behind). The force of the collision forces the neck back and forth, and it cracks like a whip. This can lead to pain, stiffness, soreness, and discomfort.
Some minor cases of whiplash resolve on their own after a few days of rest. Other car accident victims face life with ongoing pain that never really goes away. In either event, you must see a doctor right away. Neck pain that does not get prompt treatment can develop into more serious conditions.
While it can hurt badly, whiplash is one of the milder neck injuries that a car accident can cause. Many injuries are far worse, and they can leave a victim with permanent disabilities.
The neck houses the spinal cord. The bony vertebrae surround and protect it, but it is still soft, and it can sustain serious damage in a car accident. The most serious spinal cord injuries can kill people. Even if the injuries are survivable, the victim could have complete paralysis of most of their body.
Paralysis will require a lifetime of disability payments, medical care, rehabilitation, in-home care, and massive pain and suffering. These cases often incur millions of dollars in financial losses. These victims must work with an injury lawyer who has experience handling paralysis cases. An experienced lawyer will know what losses a victim suffered, how to prove the full value of these losses, and how to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that cervical fractures increased by 30 percent in the U.S. over 15 years. This might be due to a huge increase in cycling injuries, which increased by 300 percent during that same time.
Neck fractures are especially common in contact sports like football, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling, but other sports also show troubling trends. Swimming and gymnastics also carry the risk of fracture when diving or falling from the high bars. Participants must take sensible precautions and follow coaching advice about the best methods of preventing injuries.
In some cases, a doctor can actually cause a neck injury. Imagine that a patient must have brain surgery. If it is a lengthy procedure, and the patient is positioned incorrectly for hours, their neck could sustain permanent damage. Surgeons have a legal duty of care that requires them to use reasonable caution when positioning a patient for surgery.
Hospital employees must also use reasonable caution when transporting patients. Improper technique or failure to use the appropriate equipment (such as a neck brace) could exacerbate existing neck injuries – or even cause entirely new ones. In this case, the victim could have a legal claim for medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is negligence on the part of a professional healthcare provider. If the patient does not receive treatment with due care, victims can hold the medical provider financially responsible for any injuries that occur. Medical facilities—such as hospitals—can also bear responsibility for negligence on the part of any employee. This means that medical malpractice can stem from the conduct of nurses, surgical assistants, transport staff, and others who work for the hospital.
Medical malpractice claims are challenging, both technically and legally, so consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer if you suspect anything wrong with your treatment. Medical malpractice accounts for a relatively small number of neck injuries. Nonetheless, it can leave patients with lifelong pain, and they are entitled to compensation for all their financial and emotional losses.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. If they do not, and guests suffer injuries, the landowner can be liable for the accident. This means that there is a legal obligation to fairly compensate the injury victims for the financial and emotional losses they suffer because of the injury.
Slip and fall accidents can occur in private homes. Often, however, they occur in large public areas. Think of a slippery water park or a crowded concert hall. Neck injuries could occur if the floor is slippery or unsafe. Another common scenario is a slip and fall in the produce section of a grocery store. In all of these cases, the owner could be liable for neck injuries that occur on their property and ordered to compensate the victim for their losses.
Medical Treatment For Neck Injuries
Usually, neck injury treatments might include:
The first step to treating any medical problem is proper diagnosis of the condition. Your neck injury could involve the bony vertebrae of the spine or the neurons in the spinal cord itself. It could involve the discs between the vertebrae, which can cause excruciating pain if they slip out of place. A neck injury might involve the muscles that allow the neck to hold the head in place.
Each of these areas performs a different function. Injuries in these areas require different types of treatment, so medical professionals need to diagnose the general neck injury in detail. Diagnosis often occurs through imaging studies. This might include an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. Your doctor might also take blood tests.
The treatment of neck injuries varies greatly, depending on the severity of the neck injury. Very serious injuries might require surgery. Others could require injections to monitor pain or improve movement. Some neck injury victims must wear collars or other medical devices to keep the neck in place while it heals. Often, medical treatment will require some form of ongoing rehabilitation to improve and maintain neck function.
There are many different rehabilitative services that can help neck injury victims regain function in key areas of their lives. Physical therapy can help patients improve their range of motion, build strength, and decrease their pain. Chiropractic services can also improve movement and reduce pain. In the case of severe neck injuries that cause paralysis, a patient might even require occupational therapy to relearn key tasks, such as eating and dressing.
Your treatment team will make recommendations about your specific needs. Follow through on all recommendations from your medical providers. If you do not get the care you need promptly, the defendant may try to get out of paying fair compensation for your neck injuries. It is common to have concerns about the time and costs associated with rehabilitative care. It is, however, an investment that protects your legal rights.
The Costs of Medical Care
Injury victims can’t always pay for the medical care and rehabilitative services they require—nor should they. Some can’t return to full-time work right away, so the medical bills pile up at a time when no steady paycheck can cover them. An injury lawyer can help ensure you get the care you need.
First, your own health insurance should pay for services covered under your policy. It does not matter who is at fault for the injuries – if you get care covered under your policy, your insurer should pay those bills. (If you later recover those fees in a settlement, the health insurer can seek reimbursement, but this only occurs if you actually receive payment for the same bills you paid.)
If you do not have insurance, there still may be options for getting the care you need. Some physical therapists and chiropractors will wait for payment. These providers work on a lien, which means that payment comes out of your personal injury settlement before the proceeds go to you. Whatever your situation, be sure to talk to your lawyer about options for getting the care you need.
How a Neck Injury Can Affect Your Life
Injury victims have the right to fair compensation for all the financial and emotional injuries they suffer because of someone else’s negligence. But what, exactly, is fair? Every case is different. Injury victims must understand every way the accident affected their lives to prove the fair value of their claims. Here are just a few of the biggest ways a neck injury could change your life.
Being Unable to Work
For many injury victims, being unable to work is the biggest change in their lives. Losing a paycheck and health insurance can create a huge financial burden. Negligent defendants must pay the full value of any wages they lost due to the accident—whether they were out of work for a day or a year. But being unable to work is not just a financial loss. Many workers feel a sense of pride in their work and in supporting their families. An injury can derail a promising career that was decades in the making. These emotional losses can also be compensable in a personal injury claim.
Ongoing Medical Care
Neck injuries can be some of the most painful of all injuries. Because of this, many victims require ongoing care for months – or even years – after an accident occurs. They are entitled to compensation for all the medical care they will require throughout their lives due to the accident. Experienced injury lawyers know how to work with expert witnesses to prove the value of future medical care. They estimate the type of care the victim needs, what it will cost, and how to adjust this total for inflation. This allows injury victims to get the compensation they need to cover all their medical care – even care they are yet to receive.
The Physical Pain of Your Injuries and Its Impact on Interpersonal Relationships
Injury victims also deserve money for their pain and suffering. This includes the physical pain of their injuries and recovery, but it also includes the emotional impact that an accident can have. Injury victims often find that their interpersonal relationships suffer due to serious injuries. They may be more angry and frustrated because they are in pain. A spouse or partner might become tired of caring for the victim during a lengthy recovery.
All of these emotional losses are also compensable through an award for pain and suffering. Often, pain and suffering is the largest component of a personal injury settlement, so be sure to work with an experienced accident lawyer to prove the value of these intangible losses.
Discuss Your Injury With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Dealing with injuries is difficult enough, and it can be even more complicated when other parties are at fault. An attorney by your side can make the recovery period after an accident significantly easier. Your personal injury lawyer will know whether someone else should pay for your bills and how to seek the full compensation you deserve.
“These lawyers are not only very efficient, but caring as well. I would not hesitate to refer them to anyone.”
MATTHEW T. / FORMER CLIENT