Back Injuries of All Kinds
The back consists of the entire spinal cord or vertebrae from the neck (cervical) to the mid back (thoracic) to the low back (lumbar). The most common injury from an automobile accident or a trip and fall or slip and fall accidents are injuries to the back. In between each vertebrae are soft material called discs to cushion each vertebrae and keep them in place.
When a person has an accident (especially a car accident when your car is hit in the rear) the force of the impact leads to the discs being squeezed together and displaces the soft material pushing it out of line. This is called a bulge or herniation. The disc moves and this is called a slipped disc. The disc that herniates causes pressure on the spinal cord nerves and results in pain, numbness and a tingling feeling. When the herniation develops from trauma in the low back (lumbar area), pain runs down the back into the thigh or buttocks areas which is also known as sciatica into the feet and toes. When the herniation is severe and pressing upon the nerves of the spinal cord, the herniation can cause nerve damage to the spinal cord by constant pressure. If the nerve damage is severe enough, doctors will advise that surgery is needed. This could be a laminectomy, foraminectomy or discectomy. If removal of the disc is needed, doctors replace the disc with artificial bone (allograft) along with rods to hold other vertebrae in place and plates to attach to stable bony vertebrae. In New York, there is a threshold law in automobile cases that must be met before an injured party can sue. The cases hold that a herniation with nerve damage can get passed a threshold motion to dismiss and must be proved by the injured party through medical records, MRI’s and doctors’ opinions.
When one sustains a herniation in the neck (cervical) area, pain will be felt down the neck into the shoulder, down the arms and into the hands. This sometimes results in numbness into the hands and fingers. Again this is treated through physical therapy, traction or surgery. When surgery is performed to the neck (cervical) area to remove the herniated disc and sometimes results in a fusion implanting rods and plates to hold the rest of the cervical vertebrae in place. (This operation is usually performed in the front of the neck leaving a scar in the neck crease line).
It is important to note that regular x-rays don’t show bulges or herniations. A CT-Scan or a MRI must be done to diagnose a herniation. Less injuries to the spine are called lumbar or cervical sprains where ligaments are torn from the bones or strains, a stretching of the muscle or tendon is twisted or torn. The no-fault insurance law in automobile cases was passed to eliminate lawsuits with only sprains and/or strains commonly called whiplash. In order to get passed the no-fault law, the injured party must prove nerve damage.
Other spinal injuries result under the actual bone (vertebrae is fractured) from a fall or impact. The bone shows the fracture and must heal by lack of movement. If the fracture does not heal, surgery is sometimes recommended. When two vertebraes are pushed together and stay that way, this is called a compression fracture which is again treated by physical therapy, tractions or surgery. The compression fracture takes a significant amount of time to heal.
As can be seen due to the complexity and variety of back injuries that are sustained from an automobile accident or fall down cases, a back injury attorney with knowledge and experience who knows the values of these various back injuries or back surgeries should be retained to be compensated for pain and suffering, emotional loss, loss of earnings and medical and hospital expenses. The law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC represents clients with back injuries in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange and Dutchess counties, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates at (914) 288-0800.