Traumatic injury to the neck or back can occur in motor vehicular collisions, tractor-trailer wrecks, falls, and during work-related activities. These injuries may only be to the soft tissues of the spine – the muscles and ligaments – and are diagnosed as a whiplash or muscle strain. Often, injuries to these structures will fully heal, and the painful symptoms resolve in 6 to 12 weeks. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Scar tissue may form on the injured muscles and ligaments, causing pain and restrictions with movement long after the healing has occurred. The injured soft tissue may also develop myofascial pain syndrome - a chronic pain disorder of the injured muscles. These conditions will require ongoing treatment and medications.
Traumatic injury to a disc separating the vertebra of the spine sometimes occurs. Depending on the location of the injury, in addition to pain in the neck or back, pain may extend or radiate from the neck into the shoulders, arms or hands, or from the back into the hips, legs or feet. This is called radicular pain, and it is caused by injured disc material contacting the nerve root that leads from the spine to the arms or legs. Your doctor may refer to this condition as a herniated disc, disc protrusion or bulging disc. This type injury may be treated conservatively with therapy and medication or may require surgical intervention. Regardless of the method of treatment, the symptoms rarely resolve completely, often require additional medical follow-up, and result in some extent of permanent disability.
The nature and extent of damages that can be recovered depend on many factors. These include whether the injury results in permanent and chronic pain, whether the injury results in permanent physical functional limitations, whether future medical care will be necessary, and whether your ability to return to work has been impaired. Proving damages requires a number of different expert witnesses. Often treating physicians are involved to explain the specifics of the acute injury and the course of treatment and rehabilitation that was required to treat the injury. Rehabilitation medicine experts and/or pain experts may be required to testify concerning future medical care, services and specialized equipment needed to meet the medical and disability needs of the person. A vocational expert may be needed to prove earnings capacity loss due to the injury and disability. Finally, an economist is required to calculate the present phase of the economic loss sustained due to the injury.
Lawyers with our firm have represented many clients with neck and/or back injuries resulting from car wrecks, tractor-trailer wrecks, falls and work-related activities. We have worked with many expert witnesses that are necessary to prove damages in these cases. If you, a loved one or friend has suffered a neck or back injury, call us. Let us put our experience to work for you.