While a car accident can cause a wide variety of injuries depending on the circumstances, neck, and back pain are frequent symptoms and can become chronic for some people. Why are neck and back injuries so common in car accidents?
There are multiple reasons why neck and back injuries occur, but both direct and indirect impacts can cause them. For example, whiplash or neck strain often happens in a rear-end collision when the rider is thrown forward against their seatbelt. The seatbelt stops the body’s momentum, but the head continues forward before snapping backward violently, causing small tears in the tissues and muscles of the neck.
But this doesn’t only happen in rear-end collisions—the same injury may occur in any accident that causes the car to stop suddenly. Another potential cause of whiplash is the force of a side airbag deploying and striking the rider in the neck (in this case, a direct impact).
Back injuries can be caused by the same process, with the jarring force of the collision damaging the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues in the back. At the same time, the vertebrae in the neck or the back may be pulled out of alignment, leading to continued pain, or a nerve compression or disk injury could cause intense pain.
While chronic pain can be disabling, an even more severe injury may occur if the spine is fractured or the spinal cord is damaged. In these situations, the injured person could suffer permanent paralysis. It’s important to understand that the severity of a back or neck injury is not always evident immediately after an accident, so if you think you have even a mild neck or back injury, you should let the paramedics know. They will stabilize your spine before taking you to the hospital in order to reduce the risk of further damage.
What Can a Bridgeport Neck & Back Car Accident Injury Attorney Do to Help?
Back and neck injuries are often difficult to treat. Some people recover from whiplash or other soft tissue injuries within a few weeks, while others may still be in pain months later. Your doctor may prescribe multiple treatments before finding something that works, or you might have to see several different specialists. Meanwhile, your medical bills pile up, and you may be unable to work due to your injuries. As a result, it doesn’t take long for a back or neck injury to cause significant financial challenges.
Frequently, people with back or neck injuries seek relief from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, but this can be a frustrating endeavor. The insurance adjuster will look for any reason to deny your claim, and often, they settle on one of these:
The insurance company blames you for the accident. Sometimes, the other driver also blames you; in other cases, they may take responsibility for their driving errors, but the insurance adjuster claims you were also at fault. Under Connecticut law, shared fault is possible in personal injury cases, and an injured person can recover damages if their percentage of fault is below 51 percent. However, the injured person’s final award is reduced by their percentage of responsibility, giving the insurance company an opportunity to potentially save thousands of dollars by shifting some of the blame to you.
The insurance company thinks your injuries are fake or exaggerated. Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries are difficult to prove because they don’t show up on X-rays. Doctors typically use X-rays to rule out severe injuries like a spinal fracture, and if they don’t see one, they diagnose you with a soft tissue injury. Sometimes, a more detailed MRI or CT scan can show small tears in the soft tissues, but whiplash doesn’t always show up on these imaging tests either. Of course, that doesn’t mean your injuries aren’t real, but the insurance company might see it that way.
Both these situations are exasperating, but an experienced neck and back car accident lawyer may be able to help. In fact, the best thing you can do if the insurance company denies your claim for any reason is to call an attorney—not the insurance company. Many people want to call the insurance adjuster and set the record straight, but this usually worsens the situation. The insurance adjuster will record your call and pick apart everything you say, looking for any comment they can misconstrue to mean you were at fault. Instead, call a lawyer and find out your options.
How Can You Prove Fault in a Car Accident?
If the insurance company has denied your claim on the basis of fault, we may assign an investigator to gather more evidence in your case. Frequently, we visit the accident scene to take pictures and canvas the neighborhood, talking to residents or people who work in the area. We may find additional witnesses or recover video from local doorbell or security cameras. In some cases, we can even locate a video of the accident itself. However, video footage is usually erased on a regular basis, so the sooner you call us after an accident, the better our chances of locating a video (if one exists).
Additionally, we’ll request event data recorder or EDR data from both vehicles involved in the collision. The EDR tracks dozens or sometimes hundreds of data points about any significant collision. Its primary purpose is to help car manufacturers improve safety standards, but it also proves helpful in many Bridgeport car accident cases. For instance, it can tell us how fast the vehicle was moving, what direction it was headed in, and what actions (if any) the driver took leading up to the crash.
By collecting and analyzing all these different types of evidence, we can piece together a clear picture of how the accident occurred and develop a strong strategy for winning your case.
What if You Are at Fault in the Accident?
Determining fault after an accident that you were involved in can be difficult. You only have your own perspective on what happened, and there may be information you don’t know. For this reason, we advise you not to tell anyone you think you’re at fault until you have the chance to speak with a lawyer. You would not be the first client we’ve met who incorrectly assumed they were at fault. We’ll go over the police report, ask you questions, and examine other evidence to determine what really happened.
As we discussed earlier, it’s also possible that both you and the other driver had some fault in the accident—in fact, shared fault is very common. If this is the case, the insurance company will likely use it as a reason to deny your claim or offer you far less than it’s worth. However, in some cases, we find that the client only has a small percentage of fault, such as 10 or 15 percent, while the insurance company has estimated they are 30 or 40 percent to blame. We’ll construct a strategy to show that your percentage of fault was very low so you can still recover most of your damages.
Finally, if you are primarily or completely at fault in the accident, we’ll consider your own insurance coverage. Your required liability and uninsured motorist insurance will not help you with your own medical bills (or car repairs). However, if you have optional Medical Payments or MedPay coverage, this will pay for your neck and back injury treatments no matter who was at fault in the accident. While this coverage is not required, we always recommend it because anyone can make a mistake when driving, and medical bills could be financially devastating if you don’t have coverage.
What if the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
Connecticut requires a minimum of $25,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UI) bodily injury insurance, although you can buy more coverage. That means that as long as you have car insurance, you should be able to recover at least $25,000 in damages for your injuries from your own car insurance company and more if you have a larger policy. UM/UI will also cover your neck and back injuries if you are hurt in a hit-and-run accident, and the driver is never found.
How Can You Get Help From a Bridgeport Neck & Back Car Accident Injury Law Firm?
Please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation about your accident. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and explain the options for recovering your damages. There are no upfront fees, and you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle your case.
Bert McDowell Jr. is an experienced trial attorney who founded the firm to help injured people and their families. He has since recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients in various types of car accidents and other personal injury cases. Mr. McDowell has been featured in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine and was also chosen for the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. Dedicated to community service, he serves multiple nonprofit boards and received the 100 Men of Color Award for his hard work and stellar legal reputation. He also received the Man of Excellence Award from the organization Black People Rocks.