Any injury that involves the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves and joints in your neck can have a significant impact on your physical abilities and quality of life. Even minor neck muscle strains can make it difficult for the individual to carry out basic physical tasks, especially due to the accompanying levels of pain. Serious neck injuries, such as bone fractures, can have life altering consequences including numbness, reduced physical ability and even paralysis.
A neck injury often leaves the victim with chronic pain, reduced mobility and makes it challenging for him or her to perform work duties, or sometimes, even normal, everyday activities such as caring for a child or accomplishing household tasks such as cooking, cleaning or yard work. When a victim’s cervical vertebrae are injured due to traumatic events such as car accidents, slip-and-fall, trip-and-fall accidents or on-the-job accidents, he or she may suffer partial or total loss of function in various body parts. In severe cases, victims may also become paralyzed. It is critical that neck injury victims and their families clearly understand their legal rights and options.
Common Causes of Neck Injuries
The neck is an important yet vulnerable body part that is particularly prone to pain and injury from accidents and other traumatic events. Any injury that places stress or pressure on the neck has the potential to result in severe pain. Some of the most common causes of neck injuries include:
- Car accidents, especially rear-impact collisions
- Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents
- Lifting heavy objects
- Getting hit by falling objects
- Repetitive activities such as working at a computer
- Sports such as football, horseback riding and hockey
- Diving into waters of unknown depths
- Acts of violence
If You Have Suffered a Neck Injury
Whenever a neck or back injury is suspected, you should take it very seriously because there is a definite risk of paralysis and/or other long-term effects. If someone has suffered a neck or back injury, he or she should be kept stationary because any sort of a movement may cause further damage to the nerves of the spinal cord, which carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body. This type of damage may lead to paralysis below the site of the injury. Neck injuries are commonly caused by accidents or falls that bring about direct trauma to the face, neck, head or back; landing on one’s head; extreme or abnormal twisting of the body trunk; or a major blow to the head, neck or chest.
Types of Neck Injuries
The pain you experience or the extent of the neck injury itself may be contingent on the location of the injury. Depending on the type of injury you have sustained, damage or strain to your neck may result in neck pain as well as other symptoms such as headache, shoulder pain and numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. Some of the types of neck injuries commonly sustained after a traumatic incident include:
- Whiplash: This type of injury occurs after an accident that causes your head to move around violently. It is the most common form of neck injury suffered after a car accident. Here, the damage to the soft tissues of the neck, including muscles, ligaments and nerves, can lead to a variety of symptoms such as neck pain and stiffness, headache, numbness or weakness in the neck and limbs.
- Repetitive strain: Poor posture or maintaining an awkward position while working on the computer can cause the neck muscles to become strained. This type of muscle strain, over time, can lead to chronic neck pain.
- Strains and sprains: Some types of injuries may cause muscle strains and ligament sprains in the neck. Such an injury usually results in chronic pain and can be worsened by activity. These injuries require rest and pain medication. They heal only over time.
- Nerve pinch injury: This is another common type of neck injury that involves a pinched or compromised nerve in the neck that can produce sharp, shooting sensations in the neck and arms.
- Disk injury: These types of injuries can occur due to activities such as heavy lifting. Here, the neck’s nerves might become irritated causing pain that travels from the neck into the legs.
- Vertebral fracture: Some traumatic incidents can cause the vertebra in the neck to break. This is always a medical emergency because a vertebral fracture can lead to spinal cord damage as well as paralysis and death.
- Spinal cord damage: When a neck injury results in spinal cord damage, it disrupts the vertebral bones that are designed to protect the spinal cord. Since the spinal cord is composed of essential nerve elements, injury to this area can lead to partial or complete paralysis or even death. Car accidents and falls are the most common causes of spinal cord damage involving the neck.
The symptoms of neck injuries may range from headache and neck pain to tiredness, trouble with balance, ringing in the ears, nausea, insomnia, numbness in the extremities, memory loss and excessive sweating.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A variety of diagnostic equipment along with physical examinations aid emergency room doctors and other physicians to identify and treat neck injuries. If you have taken a fall or have been injured in a car accident, it is crucial that you seek and obtain immediate medical attention. If you have suffered a neck injury, it is important that you get the necessary treatment right away in order to make a quick and full recovery. Neck injuries can be diagnosed using x-rays, CT scans, MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Electromyography and Myelography.
A number of neck injuries may be treated simply with rest and pain medication. Severe injuries may require rehabilitative treatment. Some other injuries may require extensive rehabilitative therapy to bring back mobility. However, sometimes, surgery may be the only option. Surgical treatment options for neck injury victims may involve fusing two vertebrae to stop painful movement; removing the herniated or damaged part of a disc; removing bone that overlies the spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure; injecting bone cement into compressed or broken vertebrae; and implanting artificial discs between injured discs to help offer stability and remove pain.
Importance of Getting Prompt Medical Attention
It is critical that you get medical attention immediately after your neck injury and obtain a proper diagnosis. Follow the doctor’s orders in terms of taking rest. If the doctor recommends using a device such as a neck brace, make sure that you follow through with those recommendations and take the action that is required in order to make a quick and complete recovery.
It is important to get checked by a doctor even if you experience only mild symptoms on the day of the incident. Neck injuries such as whiplash tend to worsen as days go by. Sometimes, accident victims don’t even feel these injuries until days after the trauma has occurred.
Document each doctor’s office visit. Keep track of all your bills and payments relating to the neck injury including cost of medications, surgery, physical therapy and other rehabilitative care. By getting timely medical attention and treatment, not only are you establishing a record, but also ensuring that you are well on the road to recovery.
What is Your Claim Worth?
If you are pursuing a claim or lawsuit for neck injuries, it is important to know how to determine the value of your claim and prove your injuries. Sometimes, plaintiffs may have to overcome allegations that their neck injuries were pre-existing. If you are filing a claim, it is important to understand what your claim is worth. In addition to apparent costs associated with your medical treatment, neck injuries can have a serious adverse effect on your work, your social life, your ability to perform daily functions and the quality of life you have come to expect. There are a number of factors that must be considered before determining the value of your case including, but not limited to:
- The seriousness of your injuries
- Cost of medical treatment
- Number of days of work you had to miss due to the injuries
- Ongoing costs for treatment and rehabilitation
- Cost of medical equipment and medication
- Lost future wages
- Permanent injuries
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
How Pre-Existing Injuries Can Affect Your Claim
A pre-existing injury to your neck or spine can affect your personal injury claim. In these cases, it is important to prove that the injuries and symptoms that led to your claim were caused by the current accident or incident in question. However, if you can prove that this recent accident worsened your existing injuries, you can still recover damages for the degree to which your condition has been made worse.
Also, if you had a prior neck injury that you recovered from completely and the “new accident” causes you pain or aggravates the old injury, then you can recover damages as though this were a brand new injury. If you have a pre-existing injury, please do not give up or agree to a quick settlement. Our law firm has made significant recoveries for clients who have had pre-existing injuries. It is important that you work with your medical providers and injury attorney to ensure that everyone has a thorough understanding of the facts and the specifics of your case. This will ensure that you have the best possible chance of receiving maximum compensation for your injuries.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
A number of parties may be potentially liable for your injuries, damages and losses. Here are a few examples of the types of parties that can be held accountable for the injuries and damages you have suffered:
- Motorists: If you have been injured in a car, bicycle, pedestrian or truck accident, the at-fault motorist can be held accountable for your injuries.
- Property owners: If your neck injury was caused by a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident the property owner and/or manager where the hazardous condition existed can be held liable by filing a premises liability claim.
- Employer: If you suffered the neck injury on the job, you may be able to seek monetary support through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation typically covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.
- Third parties: In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, injured victims may file what is known as a third-party claim, especially in workplace accident cases, for significant money damages. Third parties are parties other than the employer whose negligence may have caused or contributed to the worker’s injury. Examples of third parties include, but are not limited to, general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners and managers, manufacturers of defective products, etc.
- Product manufacturers: If a dangerous or defective product caused your injury, the manufacturer of the product can held accountable by filing a product liability claim.
Damages That Can Be Sought
Minor neck injuries may heal quickly. However, most neck injuries take time to heal completely. Victims of these injuries must undergo medical treatment. Some may have to be hospitalized and undergo surgery in order to get better. Many patients have to go through several weeks or months of rehabilitative treatment in order to heal completely. Even with extensive treatment and rehabilitation, some victims may not recover completely. They may have suffered permanent injuries and disabilities, which may not allow them to ever work again or earn a livelihood.
The damages that can be sought in neck injury cases depend on the extent of injuries suffered. Victims can seek damages for medical expenses, lost income and benefits, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitative treatment and care, permanent injuries, disabilities, lost future income, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered neck injuries, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm recovered $5,600,000 and $2,550,000 for two neck accident victims. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com