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While spinal stenosis can be congenital or develop with age, it frequently results from trauma such as in a car accident. Spinal stenosis that is caused by a car accident should be taken seriously, and is worthy of discussion with an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the long-term implications of this condition. Handled improperly, your spinal stenosis settlement will be much lower than it should be.
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It is important to understand that spinal stenosis can even result from car accidents that happen at low speeds, though it more commonly results from serious car accidents. The symptoms of spinal stenosis, which can be debilitating, will depend on where in the spine the stenosis is occurring.
Spinal stenosis is a generic term that refers to the narrowing of the spinal column, which is the area of your spine that houses your spinal cord and the other nerves. Car accidents can cause structural injuries in the spine that lead to immediate spinal stenosis. As the space in the spinal column narrows, pressure can be placed on your spinal cord and nerve roots, leading to pain, numbness, or even paralysis in some cases. This pain can be felt in your upper and lower extremities, such as your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis can range from mild to severe, and occasional to constant. Potential symptoms of spinal stenosis in the neck, or cervical spine, to watch for following a serious car accident include:
Symptoms of spinal stenosis in the lumbar spine, or lower back, that you should watch for after a serious auto collision include:
If you have any spinal stenosis symptoms after a car accident, it is a good idea to seek medical care immediately, and consider talking to an experienced spinal stenosis injury lawyer who understands these injuries.
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Spinal stenosis can be difficult to diagnose immediately after your accident because the symptoms are not always obvious right away. Despite that, it is important to get a thorough medical exam as soon as possible after an accident if you are having any symptoms at all.
Most people, including some personal injury lawyers, don’t understand that X-rays are not typically capable of showing spinal stenosis. This is because X-rays only show the bones in the spine, and spinal stenosis is what is occurring inside the spinal column as a result of soft tissue and ligaments that an X-ray cannot see. People who go to the emergency room with spinal stenosis symptoms often leave without an accurate diagnosis, since emergency rooms are only concerned about making sure any life-threatening issues are addressed promptly, and spinal stenosis usually does not qualify. Even if the emergency room or urgent care releases you after a car accident, it is important to follow up with a specialist, such as a pain management doctor or spine specialist who will conduct further testing to see whether your symptoms are being caused by spinal stenosis.
Generally speaking, the best way to diagnose spinal stenosis after a car accident is through an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Unlike X-rays, MRIs can show injury to the ligaments of the spine, such as the intervertebral disks, which is a very common cause of spinal stenosis after a car accident. Many doctors will also do other tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and myelograms, to get a good view of the damage, and nerve conduction studies to see whether the nerves are actually being compressed. Any personal injury lawyer you contact should include this level of medical assessment on their list of “must-dos” for you; otherwise, you might miss out on valuable medical evidence.
Because spinal stenosis can range from mild to severe, treatment for spinal stenosis after a car accident can vary. In most cases, doctors will recommend conservative treatment, like physical therapy or chiropractic care. This can help adjust the spine and strengthen the muscles around the spine, which can alleviate the pressure being caused by the spinal stenosis.
If physical therapy or chiropractic care does not work, pain management doctors will often attempt to use steroids to decrease the inflammation in the spine that is causing the symptoms. Steroids can be taken orally, but serious spinal stenosis symptoms generally require a more invasive epidural steroid injection, which involves injecting a strong steroid into the spinal canal in order to target inflammation more aggressively and accurately.
If physical therapy does not work, then your doctor might recommend surgery. The purpose of spinal surgery is to alleviate the pressure that is being placed on the spinal cord or the nerve roots and stabilize the spine. This is often referred to as a decompression surgery or a fusion surgery, since the spinal cord is decompressed and the vertebrae fastened together with plates and screws while the bones can permanently fuse together.
While surgery can provide substantial relief to people suffering from serious spinal stenosis symptoms after a car accident, the surgery is very expensive. Also, because the fusion of the two vertebrae limits their ability to move, the additional pressure vertebrae above and below can cause additional stress on other intervertebral disks, resulting in accelerated degeneration and, in some cases, more pain management care, more rehabilitative care, and even more surgery.
Even if you do not think this treatment is working, you should continue working with a physician you trust. Starting with conservative treatment is not only often considered the standard of care but can be crucial to demonstrating the severity of your injuries to a jury. If you have documentation that treatments that are used to correct milder cases have not worked, you have stronger evidence for your case.
Trying to value any car accident settlement can be challenging because each case is different. But there are several very important factors that will be considered, including the severity and extent of the spinal stenosis, how the injury is impacting your life, what treatment is necessary to alleviate your symptoms, whether you have prior spine injuries, whether the other driver or drivers were clearly at fault for causing the accident, and the resources, such as insurance, available to compensate you for your injury.
Having an experienced and determined personal injury lawyer to advocate for you is crucial when it comes to maximizing the value of your settlement when you make a claim for compensation, especially at trial. In many injury cases, there is pressure to give in to the insurance companies, especially when it comes to valuing the impact of chronic pain and reduced mobility. However, even mild or moderate cases of spinal stenosis can have permanent consequences, financial and otherwise. For example, ongoing pain management care, such as steroid injections, can be costly and be necessary in the long-term. In these cases, it is important to fully understand the costs associated with that medical care, and the impact the symptoms will have on your quality of life and ability to work. In serious cases of spinal stenosis, where surgery becomes necessary, the costs of medical care over your lifetime can be very high.
To maximize your spinal stenosis car accident settlement, you generally cannot rely on the insurance company to make a fair settlement offer without presenting a strong case for the value of your injuries and the consequences of the actions of the other party (or parties) on your accident. In Texas, injured plaintiffs may be able to seek compensation for their medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and physical impairment from the negligent driver that caused the car accident, even if the other party is found only to be partially responsible. As long as you are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you are in a position to seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
To get the best settlement, you really should work with a personal injury lawyer who understands car accident cases. The lawyers at FVF have decades of experience helping clients with spinal stenosis car accidents, and we are here to help.
It’s difficult to predict how long any car accident settlement will take. While some cases are resolved in a few months, others may take a year or longer. However, there are some factors to consider that may affect the length of your case.
The nature of your injuries and the recommended treatment. Spinal stenosis can occur naturally as you age or as a result of a previous injury. However, in some cases, it will only exhibit symptoms or cause health issues after serious trauma, like that sustained in a car accident. This can make your case more complex, as you will need to very clearly document that your symptoms appeared as a result of the accident. You will also need to understand what kind of recovery period you can expect and what kind of treatments and procedures your doctor predicts you will need in the future. All of these can extend the time it takes to resolve your case.
The litigation process and jury trial. If your lawyer is unable to obtain a fair settlement, they may recommend that you bring your case before a jury. Taking a case to trial nearly always extends its timeline.
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Developing spinal stenosis following an auto accident is a very serious and potentially life-altering injury. It makes sense to consider hiring a personal injury law firm with experience and resources. The auto accident lawyers at FVF have more than 70 years combined experience and have recovered millions of dollars for clients who had injuries resulting in spinal stenosis because of car accidents.
Insurance adjusters are trained to try to pay you as little as possible to settle your spinal stenosis case. The lawyers at FVF have been doing this a long time and know-how to fight back and win. Do not let an insurance company tell you how much your spinal stenosis case should settle for. Instead, be proactive, take the time to prove your case, and dramatically increase your spinal stenosis car accident settlement.
Whether or not you hire a lawyer, taking some time to have a cost- and pressure-free consultation with the lawyers at FVF will provide you the education you need to understand your options so you can make informed decisions. We can help you recognize the importance of seeking medical treatment as well as the choices you have to receive and pay for that very important medical care.
We can also give you advice on how to best proceed to make sure you put yourself in the best position possible to maximize your spinal stenosis car accident settlement. If you choose to hire us, we will fully investigate the circumstances of your case, identify all parties responsible for causing your car accident, discover all available resources, and advocate for you so that you can secure an outstanding settlement or jury verdict.
FVF welcomes you to call and schedule your free consultation and case evaluation, and we do not get paid unless and until we win your case.
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