Back Injury From a Car Accident? Know Your Legal Options

    Have you been in a recent or even semi-recent car accident? Complications stemming from car accidents are common and range from neck issues to headaches to back injuries. Back injuries are among the most common lasting personal injuries sustained from car accidents. Car accidents account for a massive 39% of all spinal cord injuries, so if you have found yourself suffering from back pain after a crash, you are not alone. This is a common experience and if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you are likely entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering.

    Common Back Injuries From Car Accidents

    Many different types of back injuries are common in car accidents due to the intense strain and trauma endured in a collision. Most of these back injuries result from whiplash from the body suddenly accelerating and coming to a stop, even within the confines of a seatbelt. 

    Injuries can occur in soft tissues such as muscles or tendons, or in the bones themselves, which may be fractured or broken. Severity can vary greatly depending on the position of the crash victim and the speed and orientation of the crash. Common types of car accident-related back injuries are listed below.

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    1. Lumbar or Thoracic Vertebrae Injuries

    Spinal fractures in the lumbar spine and thoracic spine (the middle back and lower back) describe instances when any of the vertebrae break, crack, or become damaged in any manner. There are many different types of injuries:

    • Burst fractures, which occur when multiple parts of the vertebrae are crushed
    • Flexion fractures, which occur when a vertebra breaks due to being overly flexed or  strained 
    • Compression fractures, which occur when cracks appear due to too much pressure
    • Dislocations
    • Herniations
    • Strains/sprains of supporting musculature

    With most everyday movements, it is actually quite difficult to damage this part of the human body (the spine or vertebrae). Bones are made to act as a supporting structure for the body and are quite resilient. However, in the intense forces exerted on the body in a car accident, bone-related back injuries are more common. 

    Treatment plans for this type of spine injury in the thoracic or lumbar region may involve surgery, installation of various prosthetics, casting in order to allow healing to occur properly, or even medically mandated breakage in the case of improperly healed bones. 

    2. Discogenic Pain

    Damage can occur to the spinal discs, which is referred to as discogenic pain. The pain can often be distinguished through shooting sensations and sharp pain sensations. Pain originating in the discs can often radiate because it pinches nerves that receive and send sensations around the body, so pain, numbness, or tingling can be felt in areas like the extremities or buttocks. Pain can be modulated on a positional basis, and it may exacerbate or alleviate by sitting, standing, lying down, or with certain movements. 

    Disc damage often occurs over time, often related to another injury that causes discs to bear weight and strain incorrectly by compensating for some other part of the body. However, intense force and sudden stopping caused in car accidents may cause disc damage by sheer brutal force. 

    Treatment is often surgical in the case of disc injuries and may involve the installation of prosthetics or other surgical interventions. Corticosteroids can also be injected to manage the pain, or anti-inflammatory medications prescribed to alleviate pain and to allow the body to heal on its own. 

    3. Back Sprains and Back Strains

    Sprains and strains refer to damage sustained in the back in areas other than the bones. Sprains and strains are soft tissue damage. Even though the damage is not to the bones, sprains, and strains can still cause significant pain and impairment. Treatment can be difficult because imaging will not pick up signs of the damage in many cases, making it difficult to pinpoint the specific cause and isolate the muscle or tendon. Injury is caused by the soft tissue stretching too much, either suddenly or gradually, though the injury is much more common if the causal movement is too sudden. 

    Among all types of back injuries, soft tissue injuries are the most common because the bones in your body are actually quite resilient. It is far more likely that you will cause strain or sprain on your soft tissue and ligaments than break a bone. The prognosis will depend on the type of soft tissue damaged. Cartilage and tendons are tougher to heal than muscles. Damage to cartilage or tendons may require surgical intervention, whereas most cases of muscular damage can be treated with physical therapy techniques.

    4. Facet Joint Injuries

    Your facet joints sit between your various spine bones, and nerve roots run through them into places around the body. Damaged facet joints can cause intense pain because of the nerve roots that run through them. These joints allow you to make certain movements without triggering intense pain or damaging your spine, such as bending and twisting. If your facet joints are damaged, you may feel muscle spasms or tenderness on the outside of your back. 

    5. Degenerative Spine Disorders

    Back injuries can cause or exacerbate long-term issues such as degenerative spine disorders. There are many types of degenerative spine disorders, and it is not uncommon for car accident victims to discover an issue after being in an accident. Car accidents can lead to the discovery of arthritis, sciatica, herniated discs, and many more conditions. This means that car accidents can have an impact not only on short-term issues but on your long-term quality of life. 

    Degenerative spine disorders can be diagnosed following a comprehensive examination and are usually assessed secondary to the more immediate traumatic damage to the back following a car accident. If you are experiencing significant issues from a car accident that occurred a long time ago, you should contact an Orthopedic specialist. 

    Treatment will vary depending on the type of spine disorder and can include medications, surgery, physical therapy, and pain management treatments. 

    What Should I Do if I Want Compensation for an Injury?

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    The odds are that if you have suffered back injuries from an auto accident, you have been in a major crash that may have involved negligence or illegal activity from another driver. Or perhaps you were driving a company vehicle that was not properly maintained. Whatever the circumstances in your personal injury case, you will want to be compensated for your injury. We will outline below steps to take in gaining compensation for your personal back injury case.

    Step One: File a Personal Injury Insurance Claim

    If you have not already, you should file an insurance claim related to your personal injury. It is important that you seek out medical attention even after minor accidents because if you have suffered a back injury, your history of seeking medical attention will influence the success of any claim for damages. 

    Gather information from all drivers involved and take pictures of the scene of the accident. All evidence that you can provide later will assist your case. Be thorough and note the weather conditions and state of the road for your own information. Make sure not to make any statements to other drivers that could be used against you. 

    Make sure to contact your insurance company to report that you have been injured in an accident. If you believe that the other driver is clearly at fault, you can also contact their insurance company, but make sure to keep in mind that you are speaking to a representative of the other driver’s interests, not your own. 

    Step Two: Follow Through With Medical Attention While Seeking Legal Counsel

    Seeking medical attention is extremely important in personal injury cases. The success of your personal injury legal claim will depend heavily on keeping a thorough medical record and establishing that you have sought out care for your back injury. Make sure to follow any prescribed care instructions and retain documentation of all visits and interventions undertaken. 

    The more medical attention records that you can provide, the better your chances of success in a personal injury claim related to motor vehicle accidents. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion on your back injury. In some circumstances, pain and complications from an accident can be delayed but may be detectable by a medical professional. Seek out care immediately following an accident in all cases so that in the eventuality you suffer delayed complications, you still have a record of seeking out medical care and can connect the complications to the car accident. 

    Personal injury lawyers from the Palermo Law Group can help you navigate the process of obtaining damages in a personal injury claim. There is no substitute for the help of an attorney, especially in cases involving back injuries from car crashes. 

    Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer

    Debilitating and chronic pain from back injuries can have a severe negative impact on the quality of life of victims. That’s why for years, the attorneys at Palermo Law Group have been helping victims of car accident injuries in Oak Brook and throughout the Chicagoland area as they pursue monetary compensation for their damages. Back injury cases can be complicated because it is common for back injury complications to be delayed. Make sure that you acquire professional legal counsel as soon as possible following a car accident. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation.



    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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