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The impact from even a relatively low-speed car accident can lead to a lot of sudden downward pressure on the human spine. That pressure on the spine can result in a serious spinal injury, such as a herniated disc. Disc herniation happens when the fibrous outer casing of a spinal disc ruptures and causes the soft center to bulge out. This herniation can in turn lead to a number of serious spinal conditions.
The human spine consists of a column of discs known as the vertebral column, which provides protection for the extremely sensitive spinal cord as it runs through the center. Nerves run from the vertebral column and transmit signals to the rest of our body. When the nerves at their base in the spine become pinched or compressed, that condition can lead to symptoms called cervical radiculopathy, which can cause pain, burning, numbness, weakness, and tingling behind the shoulder blades, down the arms, and into the hands and fingers.
The only way to determine what settlement would be appropriate for cervical radiculopathy after a car accident is to fully understand the extent of the injury, the short- and long-term medical costs associated with treating the symptoms, expected recovery, impact on quality of life, impact on wage earning capacity, and insurance coverages and amounts. Settlements for cervical radiculopathy related to car accidents can range from thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars, depending on the circumstances. Before you consider settling your case with an insurance company, it is a good idea to know what your options are, and to have a full understanding of how the cervical radiculopathy is going to impact the rest of your life.
Because cervical radiculopathy can range in severity, frequency, and permanence, most people must endure significant medical care before they really understand what to expect for their car accident settlement. The usual treatment for cervical radiculopathy begins with medication and physical therapy. If this turns out to be ineffective, some physicians will order epidural steroid injections to treat the inflammation and the resultant pain. The epidural steroids are designed to alleviate pressure from the nerve that is being compressed, which can then alleviate the cervical radiculopathy symptoms. Often times, any relief provided by the epidural steroid injection is only temporary, and the injection must be repeated up to three times per year. In cases where conservative measures are not effective, surgery might be the only effective treatment option.
For people who recover with minimal treatment, the value of their cervical radiculopathy car accident settlement is lower than for those who require more invasive care. In most cases, you can expect at least six weeks of treatment after the car accident to determine whether your cervical radiculopathy will improve. If it does not, and you require injections or surgery, you your cervical radiculopathy car accident settlement should be higher, due to the permanent nature of the injury.
It is very difficult to pinpoint a precise length of time that cases will take to settle. While some cases are resolved in a matter of months, many take much longer than that. Cervical radiculopathy can vary vastly in its severity and recovery times. These factors will impact the length of your case, along with several other factors described below.
Cervical radiculopathy can take many forms and be felt in a variety of locations throughout the upper body. There are 7 vertebrae that, joined together, are called the cervical spine (or neck). Between each of these vertebrae, which are the bones in the neck, are the intervertebral disks that can rupture in a car accident. Car accidents can cause multiple intervertebral disks to rupture, and can also worsen underlying issues that were already present (often causing no symptoms) in the cervical spine.
Where you feel the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy depends on where in the cervical spine the nerve compression is occurring. For instance, a damaged nerve ending located near the fourth and fifth cervical vertebra will usually refer symptoms of pain, numbness and weakness to the deltoid muscle in the upper arm or shoulder while a damaged nerve root located near the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae will refer symptoms of pain, weakness and numbness to the biceps and wrists down to the thumbs.
It is important to understand that the severity of cervical radiculopathy can vary tremendously from person to person, as can the appropriate course of treatment. Even in surgical cases, pain and symptoms can persist for a lifetime, and even require more surgery in the future. Your expectations for an appropriate car accident settlement for cervical radiculopathy should depend on the severity of your symptoms and the treatment needed to resolve them.
If you have been in a car accident and you suspect a possible spinal problem or are experiencing cervical radiculopathy, you should seek prompt medical attention and communicate fully with your doctor so that they know all of your symptoms. The doctor will usually ask you to point out specific areas on the body that are experiencing pain, numbness, weakness or pins and needles sensations. The location of the symptoms indicates which nerve might be affected and allows the doctor to run any necessary tests to help determine the source of your cervical radiculopathy. The most common tests that can confirm the source of your symptoms include MRIs (which are much more revealing than x-rays) and nerve conduction studies.
Beyond diagnosing the cervical radiculopathy, the doctor will likely also ask you about any functional limitations you may have, and it’s important that you answer truthfully and completely. Not only will this help with the actual diagnosis, it will also help build your case by documenting how the cervical radiculopathy is impacting your quality of life, or even preventing you from being able to work.
Many people who have cervical radiculopathy after a car accident receive treatment at the emergency room and are satisfied when the x-rays show no real damage done. However, it is important to understand that emergency rooms often do not run the tests necessary to identify the source of cervical radiculopathy, such as a herniated intervertebral disk, unless they believe the symptoms are such that emergency action (such as emergency neck surgery) must be taken to prevent further damage. However, if the symptoms persist outside the emergency room, it is extremely important to follow-up with a spine specialist who will more thoroughly investigate the source of the pain. Failure to do this can result in delays of the diagnosis, which can result in a much lower cervical radiculopathy car accident settlement.
Proving all the long-term consequences associated with cervical radiculopathy typically requires involvement of experts, such as medical doctors, economists, and vocational experts who might testify about how cervical radiculopathy can impact your future earning capacity. And because of the potential severity of this type of injury, it is important to get an understanding of who might be legally liable to pay to compensate you for these losses and how much insurance or other assets they have that can be recovered. FVF can help walk you through this process and make sure you are making informed decisions along the way.
Insurance companies have adjusters whose primary concern is their bottom line, which means paying you as little as possible. The lawyers at FVF have handled hundreds of cases involving cervical radiculopathy from car accidents. We understand how to prove the long-term effects cervical radiculopathy can have on all aspects of your life, which is necessary to maximize your car accident settlement. FVF can help set you up with the medical help you need to fully diagnose your symptoms and determine the extent of your injuries.
Our consultations are always cost- and press-free, and you will learn your options so you can make informed decisions so you can maximize your recovery.
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