In the moments, hours, and even days following a car accident, determining the severity of a spinal injury can be difficult. Minor back injuries like sprains and strains typically resolve on their own, while more severe injuries can require surgery and chronic pain management.
One serious condition that can be caused or exacerbated by a car accident is spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within the spinal canal. It is most common in people over the age of 50 and typically can be attributed to age-related conditions like osteoarthritis, herniated discs, or thickening of the ligaments. However, it can also be caused or exacerbated by a traumatic injury.
Any damage or dislocation in the spine can put pressure on the spinal cord, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, and problems with walking and balance. Spinal stenosis can occur either in the neck, which is called cervical stenosis, or in the lower back, which is called lumbar stenosis.
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Protecting Yourself After a Car Accident that Results in Spinal Stenosis
Many people who sustain back injuries in a car accident choose the wait-and-see approach to seeking medical treatment. They are optimistic that the injury will heal without medical intervention and that the pain will go away. Unfortunately, this is not always the case; a spinal injury can worsen over time, or remain the same but turn into a chronic issue.
Seeking a medical evaluation with a qualified Austin physician is the first and best way to protect yourself both physically and financially. One reason for this is that insurance adjusters will use any lack of urgency in seeking medical care as an excuse to devalue or deny your claim. They will say that if you did not go to the emergency room or to a doctor soon after the accident, then the injury is not severe enough to warrant financial recovery from the at-fault party.
Your case can also be complicated by preexisting conditions. It is possible to have asymptomatic spinal stenosis that does not cause you issues or discomfort until a car accident injury aggravates the condition. Insurance adjusters will attempt to use your medical history to claim that you were not hurt in the collision. With age often comes back and neck issues, and thus the older you are, the easier it will be for an insurance adjuster to say that the car accident was not the root of your issues. A promptly obtained medical evaluation can support your claim that the accident caused an asymptomatic or manageable condition to become more acute and painful.
All medical records pertaining to your health, not just the most recent, may be presented as proof of whether or not the accident caused you harm. Even if the spinal stenosis predated your incident, the trauma from the accident could have caused it to worsen. In that case, you may have grounds to make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance or, if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit.
Along with obtaining medical care, the best way to protect yourself is to hire an experienced personal injury accident lawyer who will help you preserve and document evidence to prove that you are entitled to recovery.
Common Damages in Spinal Stenosis Cases
In addition to medical costs for treatments such as surgery, pain management, and physical therapy, many car accident victims who develop spinal stenosis are forced to take time off of work without pay to recover. Some may suffer from a reduced capacity to carry out their duties, while others may never be able to return to work. When you factor in property damage, the tangible losses that result from a car accident injury of this nature can mount up quickly.
There are also intangible losses such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life, which are harder to put an economic value on, yet no less real. An Austin personal injury accident lawyer can help you quantify your losses in order to secure financial recovery that can counterbalance the hardships the accident has brought to your life.
How an FVF Personal Injury Accident Lawyer Can Help
In a spinal stenosis car accident case, your lawyer will need to gather evidence to prove that your spinal stenosis was caused or aggravated by an acute injury. This entails reviewing your medical records to understand what, if any, history of back and neck problems you have. Images can be extremely helpful in building your case. In the absence of these visual records, your lawyer may consult with a medical provider who is familiar with your issues and can say whether the accident likely exacerbated a condition that would have otherwise remained asymptomatic.
Our Austin car accident and personal injury lawyers at FVF want you to be in the best position to receive financial recovery for your losses. That is why we offer no-cost, no-commitment case evaluations. The statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits is two years, and that leads many car accident victims to mistakenly delay taking action. But the sooner you begin documenting your case, the stronger it will be. It’s important to strike while the iron is hot and speak with a personal injury attorney you trust.
At FVF, we want our clients to be well informed and feel confident that they are receiving the support they deserve during a trying time. We pride ourselves on being compassionate and transparent about your options. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step toward financial recovery.