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What to Do About a Neck Injury After a Car Accident

Oct 11, 2023 - Car Accident by

A person seated at a desk and experiencing neck pain after a neck injury

A sudden accident on a routine drive can change your life. Neck pain and whiplash-type injuries are extremely common after car accidents, and their effects extend far beyond the initial shock. Even a sudden jolt from a fender bender can cause an injury because our bodies, especially our necks, are fragile and cannot safely absorb the impact.

Although you may not feel intense neck pain right away, it’s important to seek medical care and talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash, sprain, muscle tears, and nerve damage can be difficult to treat and may get worse over time. And if you don’t see a doctor right away, the insurance company will almost certainly challenge the validity of your claim.

In this guide, we will cover common neck injuries that occur in car accidents, including their symptoms, causes, and the crucial steps to take right after an accident. Dealing with personal injuries and insurance claims can be complex. Our goal is to offer clear and practical guidance to help protect your rights and support your path to recovery.

Common Neck Injuries from Car Crashes

A complex network of ligaments, muscles, discs, nerves, joints, tendons, and bones work together to support your neck and skull while protecting the spinal cord. Because it can be hard to distinguish between different types of neck pain after a crash, it’s important to get a full medical checkup as soon as possible.

Below are common injuries that may occur after a car accident. Note that you may be suffering from more than one of the below injuries.

Whiplash

Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when the head is suddenly and forcefully jerked backward and then forward, mimicking the motion of a whip. Rear-end collisions commonly cause whiplash. This injury can also occur when our bodies instinctively tighten muscles to prepare for a crash. This reaction is common but increases the risk of injury for muscle strain and musculoskeletal damage.

Neck sprain

Neck sprains affect the ligaments that hold the neck bones together at the joints. When these joints are pushed beyond their normal limits as result of a traumatic injury, they can cause a stiff neck, decreased flexibility, muscle spasms, and headaches.

Neck strain

Neck strain occurs when the muscles in the neck are overly stretched or torn. Symptoms might differ from one person to another, but they often result in stiffness and a reduced range of motion in the neck.

Pinched nerves

Pinched nerves occur when excessive pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues. Common symptoms can include shooting or burning pain, tingling sensations, and muscle weakness. A pinched nerve can lead to long-term nerve damage if left untreated.

Facet joint injury

Facet joint injuries damage the small joints between the vertebrae in the spine that help with flexibility, movement, and stability. This type of injury irritates the joint capsule, causing the joints to grind together.

Cervical spondylolisthesis

Cervical spondylolisthesis is a condition where one vertebra in the cervical spine slips forward or backward over the one beneath it. A traumatic impact from a car accident can cause these vertebrae to move, resulting in neck pain, stiffness, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands, and, in severe cases, difficulties with balance and walking.

Slipped or herniated disc in the cervical spine

Intervertebral discs serve as cushions in your spine, absorbing stress and protecting it from injuries. When impacted, the disc can move out of place, bulge, or break from the injury and put pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include neck pain, radiating pain down the arm, numbness or tingling in the arm or hand, and arm muscle weakness.

Neck fracture

A neck fracture is a severe injury requiring immediate medical care. The cervical vertebrae are made up of seven bones to support the head and connect it to the shoulders. A neck fracture means that one more of these bones is broken or has a crack. Any injury to these vertebrae can be detrimental because the spinal cord runs through their center, connecting the brain and body to the central nervous system. Depending on the extent of the injury, damage to the spinal cord could result in paralysis.

Symptoms of Neck Injuries

Following a collision, neck pain and symptoms of an injury can show up immediately or may take several days, weeks or months to develop. Below is a list of symptoms you might experience following a car accident:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder, arm, or back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Ringing in ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness

It’s important to remember that the symptoms experienced vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the accident and resulting injuries.

Related reading: What to Do About a Back Injury After a Texas Car Accident • Roberts & Roberts (robertslawfirm.com)

What to Do If You Are Experiencing Neck Pain After a Car Accident

  1. Seek immediate medical attention

Even if your injury appears minor, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. Some neck injuries may not show symptoms right away but can worsen over time. In these cases, timing is crucial. In addition to aiding your recovery, a healthcare professional’s involvement strengthens your injury claims through the concrete evidence provided by a doctor’s medical records.

  1. Follow medical advice and treatment

A medical professional will run diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to assess the extent of your neck injury and recommend a personalized treatment plan. Treatments and recovery periods vary but may include physical therapy, strengthening exercises, pain medications, cervical collars, or in severe cases, surgery. Do not deviate from your doctor’s treatment plan without discussing it with them first, as this can significantly weaken any personal injury claim you make.

  1. Document everything

Detailed documentation can help establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries. Keep records of all medical visits, prescriptions, treatments, and expenses related to the injury. This documentation helps your doctor understand the circumstances and potentially connect specific injuries to the accident, improving both your treatment and claim.

  1. Consult a personal injury attorney

Specialized attorneys understand the unique complexities of neck injury cases, allowing them to provide tailored legal guidance. They collaborate with medical experts to assess injuries fully to maximize compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and damages. They will also gather vital evidence, such as accident reports, witness statements, and medical records, to build a strong case.

  1. Focus on recovery

Give yourself time to heal and focus on recovery. Neck injuries can be physically and emotionally challenging, so it’s essential to prioritize your well-being during this time.

Remember that every neck injury is unique, and recovery times vary. It is not unusual for the initial conservative treatments recommended by your doctor to be unsuccessful. Do not get discouraged! Prioritizing your health and well-being, along with following medical advice and legal guidance, can help you navigate the challenges that come with a neck injury resulting from a car accident, and ultimately help you make the best possible recovery.

Overcoming Common Insurance Company Objections After an Accident-Related Neck Injury

Dealing with insurance claims after a car accident can be a complex process. Insurance companies will often challenge or deny claims related to neck injuries to minimize your payout and save their company money.

Insurers will meticulously review crash reports, medical records, and any other evidence they can find. Their goal is to uncover anything they can use to reduce the value of your claim—for example, by arguing that your injury was pre-existing, or not as severe as you claim.

Since pain levels are self-reported and typically can’t be objectively tested or measured (and different people have different pain tolerance levels), these tactics are often successful if you can’t counter them with substantial medical evidence. Any gaps in your medical records will likely be used against you.

Here are a few key tips to strengthen your claim:

  • Seek medical attention right away
  • Always follow the advice of your medical team
  • Do not skip appointments or ignore activity restrictions
  • Keep a detailed record of your symptoms, medications, appointments, etc.
  • Consider keeping a “pain journal” with written descriptions of your daily symptoms, pain levels, and even activities that you are unable to perform due to your injury
  • Collect statements from family, friends, and colleagues who can talk about how your neck injury has impacted your life

Also, be sure to share with your attorney if do have any pre-existing conditions that might affect your case. Do not try to hide this information—the insurance company will find it, and it will ruin your credibility. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand how to put pre-existing conditions into context when demonstrating how the crash made your neck injury worse and more debilitating.

The Role of an Attorney

Attorneys who specialize in personal injury law possess a deep understanding of the complexities involved in accident cases. They recognize that each situation is unique and can assist you in your path to recovery while building a strong case to increase your chances of receiving compensation. Here are several ways in which an attorney can provide support:

  1. Making sure you see the right specialists

An attorney can help connect you with medical specialists who have experience in diagnosing and treating neck injuries. These specialists provide detailed assessments, recommend appropriate treatments, and thoroughly document your injuries. This early access to specialized care ensures comprehensive documentation for building a strong case while prioritizing your health.

  1. Investigating the car accident and collecting evidence

Building a compelling case relies on collecting persuasive evidence. Attorneys know what evidence is essential to build a strong and persuasive case. They undertake tasks such as obtaining accident reports, interviewing witnesses (including expert witnesses), and obtaining relevant medical records. This thorough collection of evidence strengthens your position when negotiating with insurance companies or presenting your case in court.

  1. Maximizing the compensation you receive

A primary role of a personal injury attorney is to ensure you receive fair compensation for your neck injury. They evaluate the full extent of your damages and strive to maximize compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses. This often includes working with your medical team, vocational experts, life care planners, and others who can accurately assess the long-term financial and emotional impacts of your injuries.

  1. Handling the legal process and negotiations

While you focus on recovery, an attorney will handle the legal processes on your behalf. They understand the intricacies of various regulations and legal procedures associated with personal injury law. They handle tasks such as filing claims, negotiating with insurance companies, and (if necessary) representing you in court. Their legal expertise ensures your case is handled professionally and increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Contact Roberts & Roberts

In a neck injury case, a personal injury attorney offers more than just legal representation.

Roberts & Roberts has been advocating for personal injury victims for more than 40 years. We understand the challenges you’re facing and the impact your injuries have on your daily life. Our goal is to provide you with compassionate and skilled legal representation to ensure you get the care and compensation you deserve.

We’ll come to you to help you get started. We’ll help you with seeing the right doctors, getting your vehicle repaired, and anything else you need. And we’re available 24/7 to handle any questions or concerns you have.

Best of all, you won’t pay a dime unless we win you a settlement or verdict. The call costs nothing—it could mean everything. Contact us today by calling (903) 251-2873 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and discuss the details of your case.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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