You do not need a legal or medical background to know that some injuries present challenges when it comes to your remedies after a Georgia car accident. Your monetary damages are closely tied to the severity of your injuries, and certain types of harm are not as open and obvious. Back injuries are an example. The inner workings of the spinal cord are delicate, and it can suffer extremely severe trauma in the violent impact of an auto crash. Unfortunately, despite the potential for serious complications and permanent disability, a victim can have a hard time proving that they injured their back in a car accident.
Under the circumstances, you might think things look grim in terms of recovering compensation after sustaining spinal cord injuries that are not as visible to others. The good news is that there are strategies for overcoming challenges, and you can count on a Conyers, GA car accident lawyer to assist throughout the process. It is also helpful to review some basic information about proving back injuries in auto crash claims.
Statistics Reveal the Severity of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are currently anywhere between 252,000 and 373,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the US. Another 17,900 new cases are added every year through various types of accidents. In addition:
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of back injuries, with falls coming in second. Sports-related spinal cord trauma is also common.
- On average, victims of spinal cord injuries are 43 years old. This represents a 14-year age increase, as the average age at injury was 29 in the 1970s.
- Approximately 78 percent of new spinal cord injury cases every year involve male victims.
- The lengths of stay in a hospital and/or rehabilitation facility have decreased compared to the 1970s. However, victims will still be hospitalized for 11 days and may be admitted to a rehab center for up to 30 days.
- Around one-third of all individuals who suffer back injuries will be re-hospitalized within a year following the initial trauma. When these victims return to the hospital, their stay averages almost 20 days.
To learn more about spinal cord injuries and accident statistics, contact MG Law today.
Immense Losses For Victims Of Back Injuries
These statistics demonstrate the serious nature of spinal cord injuries, but you should also understand them from a basic medical point of view. The NSCISC describes how the neurological level and extent of trauma could lead to complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries. A complete injury means the nerves below the affected area of the spine cannot receive messages from the brain, leading to paralysis downward. Incomplete spinal cord injuries allow some communication, but function is still limited.
These medical consequences can lead to enormous losses for victims of spinal cord injuries. As mentioned, hospital or rehab center stays can be expensive; the average costs are up to $2,000 per day in a Georgia hospital- and around $1,600 per day for rehabilitation facilities. You may qualify to recover damages for these and other losses, such as:
- Surgery, physical therapy, and treatment from medical specialists;
- Costs of medical assistive devices, including wheelchairs, crutches, and hospital beds;
- Lost wages- if your spinal cord injuries render you unable to work;
- Lost business opportunities- for victims who cannot return to their normal occupations;
- Pain and suffering;
- Decreased quality of life;
- Emotional distress; and
- Many others.
You only qualify for compensation if you are able to prove your injury. An experienced injury attorney, such as those at MG Law, can help assist you with proving a back injury after a car accident so you can pursue compensation for your losses.
Your Rights As An Injured Victim
When your spinal cord injuries are the result of someone else’s careless acts, your claim for compensation will usually center on the concept of negligence. Therefore, you need to prove four elements to obtain compensation for these extensive losses. The elements are as follows:
- You must show that the responsible party had a duty to act with reasonable care, whether driving a car, maintaining property in a safe condition, or operating a business.
- You will need evidence showing how that person or entity breached this legal duty of care through careless misconduct.
- You must establish causation between the breach of duty and the accident that caused your spinal cord injuries, such that you would not have been hurt but for the breach.
- You must prove that you suffered losses as a result of receiving spinal cord injuries.
Note that there may be limitations on the compensation you can recover after suffering back injuries. For one, Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations that starts to run on the date of the accident. If you do not file a lawsuit before this deadline expires, you are forever barred from obtaining monetary damages. Plus, Georgia follows the law of contributory negligence, which accounts for your conduct in an injury-causing accident. If you were also negligent, your compensation would be reduced by the proportion of fault assigned to your actions.
Overview Of The Legal Process In Car Accident Cases
In most cases, you will begin the legal process by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. You might be able to work out an agreement to settle, but keep in mind that insurers are for-profit businesses. These companies have their own bottom line to protect, so they typically deny claims or offer a lowball settlement amount. A claims adjuster may blame the accident on you or suggest that your back injuries are not severe. Under the circumstances, you will need to sue in court to obtain fair, reasonable compensation for your losses.
Lower Back Injuries
Many types of back injuries from a car accident can afflict various regions of your back. One of the most common injuries is a lower back injury.
Lumbar Spine Injury
The spine consists of five sections: the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, and coccyx. The lower back generally refers to the lumbar spine region, specifically, five vertebrae (L1-L5). Like most neck and back injuries following a car accident, lower back injuries are often caused by the jarring or whipping motion from the impact. Lower back injuries can be acute or chronic and can range in severity from minor to moderate to extreme. As with the type and intensity of the injury, the recovery time for a lower back injury can also vary widely.
Although common, lumbar spine injuries can be painful, challenging to diagnose, and difficult to treat. A lumbar sprain is among a car crash’s most common lower back injuries. Lumbar sprains occur from the sudden, strong force when the car makes an impact in a collision, especially a rear-end crash. A lumbar sprain can injure the lower back muscles and tissues. It often causes general lower back pain that can be difficult to pinpoint. If you are experiencing lower back pain after a car accident, you must see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Other Lower Back Injuries
Other common lower back or lumbar spine injuries include the following:
- Spinal stenosis,
- Degenerative spinal disorder,
- A herniated disc, and
- Spinal cord injuries.
Lower back injuries are typically diagnosed through physician evaluation, x-rays, and MRIs. You should bring any symptoms of back pain to your doctor’s attention. Back injuries can manifest over time, worsen, or become irreversible without proper treatment.
Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain
Lower back pain can be acute or chronic. Lower back injuries can be complex and often affect other body parts. This is because everything stems from the spine, and spinal injuries can radiate pain to your extremities. Whether you are experiencing acute or chronic back pain, it is vital to seek medical treatment and guidance on how to proceed with seeking compensation from the liable party.
Acute Back Pain
Acute pain refers to sudden and often severe pain. Acute back pain is a common consequence of a car crash and generally does not last very long. With proper treatment, acute pain can resolve within days or weeks. Treating acute lower back pain involves figuring out the underlying cause and treating that injury.
Typically, the cause of acute pain is more readily apparent. For instance, if you develop back pain immediately after being rear-ended in a car crash, it is a good indicator that the collision caused the pain and injury. Acute pain is easy to trace back to the accident.
Chronic Back Pain
Doctors generally define chronic pain as pain that lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain can last a long time and may be difficult to diagnose.
Chronic pain can be caused by a sudden event, such as a car crash. However, it often manifests over time or as a result of an acute injury that does not improve.
Trust Your Claim to a Skilled Attorney
This information should be helpful in terms of understanding the challenges with providing back injuries after a motor vehicle crash, but there are many other details that apply in a real-life situation. As such, your first priority should be retaining experienced legal counsel to help with the process. Our lawyers at MG Law are prepared to fight for your rights and tackle the hurdles, so please contact us to schedule a no-cost case assessment. We can meet with you at our offices in Conyers, Covington, or Atlanta, GA. After reviewing your unique circumstances, we can determine how to proceed with your case.