The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an estimated 3.9 million annual emergency room visits related to injuries. Back accidents are often the most severe types of injuries that result from car accidents.
One common back injury many people suffer after an auto collision is a herniated disc. A herniated disc is a ruptured or a slipped disc in the spine. When left untreated, spinal cord injuries can lead to chronic pain, disability, or even paralysis if there is spinal cord damage. Therefore, it’s necessary to get prompt medical attention for the best recovery outcome.
A herniated disc can occur in any part of the spine including cervical (neck), lumbar (lower back), and thoracic (mid-back). The injury can cause victims to suffer neck, back, arm or leg pain. They may even experience numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the vicinity of the herniation. Surgery is often recommended when a herniated disc causes nerve impingement.
Furthermore, many victims believe they are uninjured immediately after an accident. The adrenaline rush from the shock of the collison often masks the initial pain or discomfort. However, pain may set in days or weeks later.
If you believe you’ve suffered a herniated disc from a car accident, contact a Denver car accident lawyer immediately. We can help you recover losses like medical bills, wages, and pain and suffering.
What Is a Herniated Disc From a Car Accident?
Following a car accident, a herniated disc can occur when the force of the collision causes your spinal bones to slip or rupture. The impact causes your vertebrae to slip into the spinal canal and put pressure on your nerves. As a result, a herniated disc can irritate your spinal cord. This can be a very complex injury since the spinal cord is a very sensitive bundle of nerves that is connected to every part of your body.
Steps to Take for Herniated Disc After a Car Accident
Get Prompt Medical Attention
Time is of the essence when it comes to getting a medical examination. To properly treat a herniated disc, you need prompt care. The sooner you get a proper diagnosis, the sooner you can get the appropriate medical treatment. As a result, you will also have better chances of a functional recovery without any permanent damages. In addition, you want to be sure that doctors have ruled out any other serious injuries.
Get Appropriate Medical Treatment
Following medical examinations, get the necessary referrals for appropriate treatment. You may need to undergo diagnostic imaging for a herniated disc. That’s because a doctor needs to know what’s causing your symptoms before administering a treatment plan. With correct diagnostic tests, your doctor can prescribe the best course of treatment and make the proper referrals.
Be sure that you are getting the correct testing to diagnose your conditions. For example, X-rays can help rule out other issues like broken bones or spine alignment issues. However, X-rays alone are insufficient to diagnose a herniated disc. If you only get an X-ray, you may walk away with an untreated herniated disc that worsens.
Keep Strict Track of Medical Documentation From the Get-Go
Early documentation of a herniated disc will help you avoid any future problems with insurance companies. This will help establish the fact that the accident was the actual cause of your injuries.
Let’s say your injury turns out to be something more serious than a herniated disc. In that case, you’ll have early documentation of your symptoms which again, will help you avoid issues. Insurance companies sometimes deny claims or refuse to pay for medical treatment. But with documentation of early treatment, it will be easier for you to create a clear chronological relationship between the accident and your medical care. Such evidence will support your claim and increase the chances of the insurance company covering your medical bills.
Do Not Delay Seeking Medical Care
Again, demonstrating a clear temporal relationship between the accident and the medical documentation will support your claim. In addition, this evidence will help you attorney obtain a full and fair settlement on your behalf.
Insurance companies are more reluctant to pay for your medical treatments if you delay too long after the accident.
Don’t Attempt to Grin and Bear It Out
This is not a time to try to tough it out. A herniated disc is a very serious injury that can lead to permanent pain or disability if not treated right away. Many people don’t want to “complain” or think they don’t have time to seek medical care. Then in a few weeks, the discomfort they thought would go away turns out to be a very serious injury.
A herniated disc that goes untreated has the potential to cause nerve damage. Herniated discs have the potential to put significant pressure on a nerve and create damage by cutting off nerve impulses. Compressed nerves can lead to significant conditions, like loss of sensation in lower extremities or incontinence.
Talk to an Experienced Denver Car Accident Attorney
We strongly advise you to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who has helped injury victims. Most experienced lawyers have helped victims suffering from a herniated disc as a result of an auto collision. When you call our Denver car accident attorneys, we provide a free initial consultation. In addition, we take the time to listen so that we understand your story and your needs.
We can help you determine how much the insurance company is responsible to pay, and if you are entitled to medical help or lost wages. In addition, we can help you obtain and review evidence to support your claim. Such evidence would include medical records, police reports, video surveillance, and more. Lasty, we can help you go over all relevant documents to help determine the value of your claim.
Contact Your Insurance Company
It’s important to contact your insurance company to report your injuries, regardless of fault. Many Colorado insurance policyholders purchase underinsured or uninsured (UIM) protection.
You can use UIM protection if the at-fault party does not have adequate insurance to fully compensate you. For example, let’s say the other driver hit you, leaving you with $80,000 in damages. However, if that driver only carries the minimum insurance required in Colorado, their policy would only provide you with $25,000. Consequently, you would be on the hook for the remaining $55,000. In that instance, if you have enough UIM protection, your insurance company would cover the difference.
Never Sign Anything Until You’ve Consulted With Your Attorney
Insurance companies may try to present a waiver, release or settlement to you. However, we strongly advise speaking with your lawyer before signing any settlements, releases, or waivers related to the accident. An attorney will have your best interest in mind and can advise you on the best course for the best outcome.
How to Seek Compensation for Herniated Disc After a Car Accident in Denver
Since Colorado is an at-fault state, you must file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. That means Colorado requires all drivers to have a minimum insurance amount. Additionally, drivers may have more liability coverage than the minimum requirements, but not less.
Colorado minimum insurance requirements are as follows:
- $50,000 for physical injuries or death of all persons in any given accident
- $15,000 for property damage per accident
- $25,000 for bodily injuries or death per person
Insurance coverage should pay for medical expenses and vehicle and other property damages. But, that’s not always the case. If you find yourself struggling to negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies, you may benefit from hiring a skilled Denver car accident lawyer.
If the at-fault driver caused you personal injury or property damage that exceeds the insurance limits, they may have to cover the difference out-of-pocket.
Symptoms of Herniated Disc After a Car Accident
If you experience symptoms of a herniated disc after a motor crash, you should seek medical care. Here are some symptoms of a herniated disc:
- A lasting ache or stiffness along the spine
- Sharp pain in the neck or back
- Chronic aching in the middle of lower back, especially after long sedentary periods
- Back pain that radiates from the lower back to the glutes, back of thighs, calves and into the toes
- Inability to stand straight without excruciating muscle spasms
How Do You Treat a Herniated Disc Injury?
While most herniated disc patients don’t need surgery, it may be necessary in some cases. Often doctors treat it with anti-inflammatory meds to relieve pressure from the spinal nerves. In addition, many injury victims undergo physical therapy or long-term rehabilitation treatments. Aside from surgery, some alternative treatment options include:
- Pain medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Spinal injections
- Physical therapy
If the injury does not improve with medical intervention or worsen after treatment, a doctor may recommend surgery. Herniated disc surgery procedures include:
- Discectomy: Removal of damaged discs to alleviate the spine.
- Laminotomy/ laminectomy: removing a small pice of the bone, or the lamina, which serves as a protective layer to the spinal cord.
- Spinal fusion: Common follow-up surgery to a discectomy or laminectomy, fusing two vertebrae on either side of the removed discs to help stabilize the spine.
- Artificial disc surgery: Replacing damaged discs with artificial metal or plastic discs.
A medical professional may use the following tests or a combination to diagnose a herniated disc:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- CT Myelogram
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Neurological check
- Range of motion test
- Leg raise test
- Vital signs check
- Gait monitoring
- Lumbar spine area exam
Each person’s recovery will be different depending on their unique circumstances and what type of treatment they underwent. Fusion surgeries are typically effective for long-term treatment but may not be very effective for eliminating back pain. In addition, a fusion surgery can increase the chances of arthritis due to fusing the vertebrae.
On the other hand, a discectomy surgery can help reduce symptoms in about 3-4 months. Similarly, a laminectomy surgery can reduce symptoms in about 2-3 months.
Get Help From an Experienced Denver Car Accident Lawyer
If you suffer from a herniated disc after a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney.
Contact us now for a free initial consultation or call (720) 500-HURT.