Back injuries are a typical result of an accident or an underlying medical condition. They can be minor or lead to more catastrophic consequences. Depending on the severity of a person’s injury, they can recover fully or have their lives altered. In either case, if someone caused the incident that led to your back injury, you can file a personal injury action against them to recover compensation. It is best to go about the preceding with Houston personal injury lawyers from McDonald Worley.
What Is a Back Injury?
A back injury is a wound resulting from damage, wear, or trauma to the bones, muscles, or other back tissue. Most back pains are at the lumbar spine. The area is susceptible because of its flexibility and the amount of bodyweight it bears. Back pains can either be from a medical condition like muscle or ligament strain, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis, or osteoporosis.
For medical back pain, the following factors can cause it:
Lack of exercise
For back pains originating from any of the above, a person can not bring a personal injury claim, as no one’s negligence caused it. However, when the back pain is from an accident, injury claims would apply.
Types of Accidents That Results in Back Injuries
Several factors cause back injuries, but the three significant ones are:
1. Car Accidents
A car accident can be a single-vehicle crash, rear-end collision, side-swipe collision, or a head-on collision. In either of these cases, the auto collision force can lead to minor or severe injuries to the back. This is because the back, alongside the neck, is sensitive to sudden movements.
As a car slams into another vehicle or an object, there’s usually not enough room for the body to move because of seatbelt constraints. The back then absorbs all the collision pressure, and the spine is not strong enough to absorb such force. After an auto accident, it is best to seek medical help immediately and contact a good Houston personal injury lawyer..
2. Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall accident is quite common and happens every day. In some cases, those involved get up unharmed and go back to whatever they were doing before they fell. But that’s not always the case, especially if the fall involves people from 65 and above.
In such an instance, the fall could result in a spinal cord injury, hip injury, and broken bones. Most slip and fall injuries occur at home, business places, outdoors, commercial property, or private property. Irrespective of where the accident occurred, as long as you can prove that another person’s negligence caused it, you can sue for financial compensation. It would be best to do this with a Houston personal injury lawyer’s help.
3. Workplace Accidents
If you work in a place like the construction industry where you’re required to do the heavy lifting, you’ll be prone to back injuries. At other times, a back injury at work could be from an accident, like a slip and fall, or having a heavy object fall on you. Whatever the reason, you should not take the path to compensation alone. Hire an experienced attorney to look at your case. A lawyer would get you a settlement that would help you maintain a semblance of the quality of life you had before the accident.
What Are the Common Types of Back Injuries?
Most back injuries from a car accident result in what is known as discogenic pain. A discogenic pain refers to the pain associated with spinal discs. These round pieces serve as a cushion between each bone of the spinal column. They are also responsible for movement and stability. Damage to the spinal disc can cause chronic pain depending on the level of injury.
This pain can happen either from the spinal disc’s degeneration over time or from acute trauma like in a truck accident. The spinal injuries leading to discogenic pain are lumbar sprains, thoracic spine injury, and disc herniation. We’ll look at them one after the other.
Lumbar sprains happen in the lumbar region from the excessive force on the back. Aside from motor vehicle accidents, you can get this injury from sporting activity or lifting a heavy object. The trauma causes the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the back to stretch beyond what’s normal. A lumbar sprain cannot be detected with imaging. You have to rely on the doctor’s experience to get a diagnosis and commence treatment.
This injury causes limited movement, swelling, bruising, and tenderness to the affected area. It might severely affect your quality of life and the ability to carry out daily chores. This is why you must sue the fault party and get the maximum compensation. A Houston personal injury lawyer can help you with this.
Some car accident or motorcycle accident victims suffer herniated discs. Discs are cushions that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine. A herniated disc happens when a disc gets displaced, thereby placing pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding areas. It results in sudden and intense pain in the lower back region and numbness in the legs. After sustaining this injury, you will need medical care and request a personal injury settlement from the at-fault party.
Thoracic Spine Injury
Injuries to the thoracic spine are pretty severe because it connects to the ribs and other chest regions. High-impact auto accidents mainly cause sprains and fractures in the thoracic spine. If you don’t get immediate medical attention, you could suffer a life-changing injury like nerve damage. Injuries like this incur a lot of financial damages because it takes the victim time to recover. Hire accident attorneys to help you start the claims process while you focus on healing.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most severe type of back injury involves the spinal column. It ranges from bruising or excessive pressure to permanent damage to the spinal cord. Victims could lose their mobility functions and have a loss of sensation in other body parts. Also, depending on the type and injury level, spinal cord injury victims could be at risk for a secondary medical condition.
The latter could be a blood clot, bleeding, pneumonia, and spinal fluid leaks. Receiving treatment for all this leads to the accumulation of medical bills. Thus, spinal cord injury victims can bring a personal injury lawsuit with Houston personal injury attorneys at McDonald Worley.
You can treat back injuries using anti-inflammatory medications or epidural corticosteroid injections. The two are non-surgical options. However, if it is a spinal cord injury, you would most likely need spine surgery, especially if the medications and injections do not work.
Note that because back injuries do not show up immediately after a car accident. It would help if you watched out for unusual sensations and discomfort. Also, get a thorough medical exam and try not to let medical costs deter you. If you file a personal injury claim, you will need a comprehensive medical record to prove your case.
Can You Claim Damages for a Back Injury?
The simple answer to this question is yes. As long as there’s evidence that someone owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, you can bring a personal injury claim against them. Typical personal injury compensation is of three types: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages, sometimes referred to as special damages, cover losses you can calculate to a definite dollar amount. For a back injury claim, potential monetary damages include:
- Lost Income and Diminished Earning Capacity: After a back injury, you can get compensated for the time you spent away from work. If the injury affects your future earning capacity, you will also get a payment for it. You can establish lost income by examining payment stubs or cheques. Also, an expert can assess your projected future earnings.
- Past and Future Medical Bills: This varies depending on the severity of the injury. The money a person who suffers a sprain or strain gets is different from someone with a spinal cord injury. The type of treatment will also come into consideration. Spinal surgery will cost more than medications, and the victim might undergo physiotherapy.
Non-economic damages relate to wounds that are not physical, and therefore unquantifiable. It means that you can’t place a number on them. They include;
- Pain and Suffering: Usually, the responsible party’s insurance company and courts use a pain multiplier to assess a victim’s pain and suffering. Simply put, the insurer will multiply economic damages by a number, usually from one to ten. The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplying digit.
- Emotional Distress: When there’s evidence of emotional distress, the injured person can claim damages and have it awarded. It is like an extension of pain and suffering.
- Loss of Consortium: If the injury led to irreversible damage or its so severe that it affects the victim’s relationship with their loved ones, they would get this compensation. Courts grat it mainly to the spouse of the injured person.
It is not as common as the first two types of damages. It is the money awarded to the victim where there’s evidence that the at-fault party behaved reprehensively. The defendant’s action would get subjected to a reasonable person test. The preceding helps to determine if another person would have acted the same way in the same circumstance. There is no fixed amount for punitive damages; the court decides each case on its merits.
What Factors Will Hinder Your Back Injury Claim?
Generally, the severity of your back injury determines how much you get as a settlement. But some factors affect how much you’ll get or if you’ll get nothing.
Texas is one out of 32 states in the U.S. that practice a modified comparative negligence rule. The law states that you can receive compensation if the other party is at least 50% or 51% responsible for the event that led to your injury. On the other hand, if you have up to any of the two percentages, you will not get a settlement.
Furthermore, the amount you get as a settlement depends on the degree of liability on your side. It means that if you were responsible by 30%, your compensation reduces by that number. Thus, if the court awards you $100,000 as a judgment sum, you will only take home $70,000. If the case involves more than one defendant, the court can reduce the amount further.
Failure To Mitigate Damages
Following any form of accident, there are steps that every reasonable person must take. For example, after a car accident, you must:
Remain at the scene
Check for injuries on yourself and other parties
Call 911 and request an ambulance if there are injured parties
Speak to witnesses and gather evidence if coherent enough to do so
Make a report to the police
Doing all these strengthen your evidence and personal injury lawsuit. Now, seeing a physician immediately after the crash shows you took steps to treat your injuries. If the doctor diagnoses a back injury and orders a back brace, you must wear it for the prescribed duration. If you fail to wear the brace and your injury gets worse, it would affect your claim.
The defendant can allege that you never picked it from the pharmacy, and your negligence led to failure to mitigate damages. Thus, the court can conclude that you failed to take steps to minimize your wound. In that case, they will reduce the damages you’re entitled to. You’ll only get money for the initial injury and nothing else. If you find yourself in this situation, speak with one of Houston’s personal injury lawyers immediately.
What Is the Average Compensation for Back Injuries?
As mentioned earlier, the amount of settlement you get for a back injury claim depends on the severity and type of injury. Also, courts and insurance companies decide on an amount after examining each case individually. Thus, there is no fixed average amount, but settlements can run from thousands of dollars to a million.
Note that most personal injury claims get settled outside the courtroom. This is one reason personal injury victims must hire an experienced attorney to negotiate on their behalf. Without one, there’s a high likelihood that the insurance company will cheat you and pay less than what you deserve.
We should point out that complications from a spinal injury can lead to the victim’s death. In that case, the person’s relatives or representative can bring a wrongful death claim. You can claim the same damages as discussed above.
When Should You Bring Your Back Injury Claim?
Like in all forms of personal injury lawsuits, time is of the essence when dealing with back injury claims. Even if you’ve commenced a claim against the fault party’s insurance company, you must file a court action. This is because insurance companies like to investigate each request, and it might take time, with the Statute of Limitations elapsing.
In Texas, you must file your back injury claim within two years from when the accident occurred. If you miss this deadline, the court will not hear your case, as it is void from the beginning. Therefore, work with a Houston personal injury lawyer to ensure you don’t miss the window.
Did You Suffer a Back Injury? McDonald Worley Can Help!
At McDonald Worley, we have a team of experienced and award-winning personal injury attorneys. We understand that choosing the right accident lawyer goes a long way to protect your financial future. To ensure you don’t regret choosing us, we combine modern technology and legal expertise in handling your case. We also work hard and diligently to get you the maximum compensation. Why don’t you give us a trial by scheduling a free consultation today?