You never know how much you rely on and use your back until you suffer an injury. You use the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones of the back in many everyday tasks and activities. They may seem mundane until an injury makes it almost impossible to move or even get comfortable. Back injuries can make walking, getting in and out of bed or a chair, getting dressed, bathing, and many other actions incredibly painful, if not impossible.
Some back injuries can even lead to paralysis or permanently limited motion. Still, some can be relatively minor and short-lived. If you suffered a back injury, you might be wondering how much compensation you deserve. No matter how you suffered your injury or its severity, it’s always best to consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney.
Types of Back Injuries
Back injuries make it difficult to move freely and normally throughout your day. While numerous types of back injuries can cause pain and mobility difficulties, the most common types of back injuries include:
Back Sprains and Strains
The most common types of back injuries are sprains and strains. These injuries can occur suddenly or gradually over time. Strains often happen from twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon in your back.
Sprains often result from a slip and fall or sudden twist, or even some type of trauma that forces a joint out of its natural position.
- Symptoms of sprains or strains usually include:
- Hearing of feeling a “pop” with the occurrence of the injury
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Problems standing up straight, bending, or walking
- Pain the worsens with particular movements
Get treatment for back sprains and strains soon after they occur. A “wait and see” approach can lead to additional injury that needs more time to heal.
If your symptoms persist or interfere with your daily activities, return to your primary care provider (PCP) to discuss further treatment.
Herniated or Bulging Discs
Herniated or bulging discs are also quite common. Discs are the rubbery cushions between the vertebrae. Best described as a jelly donut with a softer center inside a tougher exterior, disc herniation occurs when the more delicate “jelly” comes through a tear in the disc.
This can make nearby nerves irritated and cause:
- Leg or arm pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle weakness
However, some individuals with a herniated disc won’t notice any symptoms. Surgery isn’t typically used to treat a herniated disc.
Instead, treatment options might entail:
- Epidural injections
- Physical therapy
Vertebra can sometimes sustain a crack or gap, also known as a compression fracture. Fractured vertebrae can happen due to various traumas to the spine or a fall.
Symptoms of a fractured vertebra include:
- Acute or chronic back pain or discomfort
- Decrease in height
- Hunched posture
Fractured vertebrae might require:
- Physical therapy
- Minimally-invasive surgical procedures, including vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty
If you suffer back injuries in an accident, seeking medical treatment as soon as possible is in your best interest. This way, your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for your particular injury, and you have better chances of recovery while experiencing less pain.
What is Your Back Injury Settlement Worth?
Every back injury claim is unique. Many factors will help determine what your back injury claim is worth. Those who suffer back injuries must speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The sooner they have an experienced lawyer on their side, the better the chance that they will receive maximum compensation for their injuries.
The value of a back injury case depends on:
- The insurance coverage involved or other sources of compensation
- The extent and severity of the back injury—for example, a permanently paralyzed person will receive more compensation than someone with a ruptured disc.
- The long-term prognosis of the injury
- The evidence in support of the claim
- What the victim does for a living, and if they can still perform their job
- How long the injured victim waits to file a claim or pursue litigation
- The negotiation and litigation skills of the injured party’s attorney
When you meet with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, they will assess all aspects of your case to determine what it might be worth. Throughout the process, they can let you know what a full and fair settlement sum might be and if you should proceed to litigation if the insurance company isn’t offering you enough compensation for your injuries.
Maximizing Your Back Injury Compensation
You deserve fair compensation for your back injuries. While you, unfortunately, don’t have complete control over the outcome of your claim, there are steps you can take after an accident that will likely increase the payout available for your back injuries.
Comprehensive Documentation of Your Medical Treatment and Costs
It’s imperative always to seek prompt medical attention after an injury accident. Refusing medical attention at the scene or not seeing a doctor until several days later gives the insurance adjuster reason to say your injuries weren’t from the accident but rather something that happened afterward or even a pre-existing condition.
In addition, adjusters will typically refuse to pay for chiropractors, acupuncturists, or other alternative care providers. Unfortunately, even if these treatments make your back pain or mobility better, the insurance company doesn’t like to pay for them.
Insurance carriers must only pay for medically necessary treatment administered according to the accepted standards of medical practice. You may be responsible for the expenses of alternative therapies or anything else not medically necessary if the insurance adjuster rejects it.
Your personal injury attorney can help you obtain the necessary medical documentation and bills to establish your injuries, the medical necessity of your treatments, and your expenses.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
Successful personal injury claims are rooted in solid evidence. Your attorney will use evidence to prove that the at-fault party was negligent, resulting in your back injuries.
Your injury attorney will also collect evidence to prove:
- The extent and severity of your injuries
- That your injuries are the direct result of their actions
Depending on the circumstances that caused your back injury, evidence from the accident scene might include:
The responding law enforcement officers will investigate the accident and file an official accident report. If it was a motor vehicle accident, the report might include accident scene diagrams, witness names, lists of any tickets issued, and the law enforcement officer’s opinion of who caused the collision.
You need a detailed and accurate police report as insurance adjusters rely heavily on them when making their determinations. You or your attorney can obtain this report directly from the responding law enforcement agency, usually within a few days after the accident.
If you physically can, speak to anyone who might have information that can help you prove your claim. For example, witnesses may have seen the other driver’s negligence. Maybe they saw them do something illegal or overheard an admission, such as “The accident was my fault, I was driving too fast” or “I was texting/talking on my phone.”
Pictures and Video
If possible, get as many photographs and videos of the accident scene as possible and from different angles. Pictures and videos don’t lie.
If you were involved in a car accident, be sure you get pictures of:
- The point of impact
- Any skid marks found on the road
- The driver
- Traffic signals
- Road and weather conditions
- Anything else that might have contributed to the accident
Other essential pieces of evidence that your attorney can help you with include:
- Medical Records: Your medical bills and records are vital evidence connecting your back injuries to the car accident. If you suffered a previous back injury, ensure your medical record details that your injuries from this accident are distinct and separate from your previous injury.
- Notes: Right after the accident, begin taking detailed notes on how it happened, what happened leading up to it, and afterward. Keeping detailed notes about your day-to-day pain and limitations can also go a long way in proving your damages.
How Adjusters Can Limit Back Injury Compensation
Insurance companies are well-known for providing lower settlements to accident victims who don’t have legal representation. They know the injured individual likely won’t have the legal background or the energy to fight after presenting their “final” offer.
When trying to pay as little as possible for claims, common insurance adjuster tactics include:
- Blaming the individual with the back injury for contributing to their injuries
- Purporting that spinal injuries are degenerative or from a previous injury
- Arguing that the accident was low-impact or too minor to result in injuries
- Disputing you need medical treatment or time off work
They may also contact you within days of your accident, seeming to genuinely care and offering a quick settlement. Though receiving a quick settlement can be a substantial help now, it’s likely nowhere near what you deserve. If you receive an offer, it’s best to discuss it with a skilled attorney before deciding to move forward.
Unfortunately, adjusters know how to find reasons to deny or decrease injury claim payouts. They are good at getting claimants to say things that can be used against them but seem innocent. Be very cautious if the claims adjuster requests a recorded statement. Never provide such a statement.
You should also refuse to sign a release for your medical record if the insurance company requests one. Of course, the insurance company needs records and bills to justify paying your claim. However, they don’t need records unrelated to your current injuries. Therefore, you have the legal right to insist on a release limited to the back injury care you’ve received after the accident date.
Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations
Each state has a deadline for personal injury cases known as the statute of limitations which dictates how long you have to settle your injury claim or file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, Texas has a two-year statute of limitations, while other states typically have between one and four years.
Suppose you haven’t reached a back injury settlement or filed suit before the legal deadline. In that case, you will forfeit your right to pursue compensation, no matter how your back injury is. Protect your legal rights by not waiting until the last minute to discuss your back injury claim with a well-versed personal injury attorney. Most personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations to accident victims. You can find out what an attorney can do for you for free.
Are You Suffering From a Back Injury? Call a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer Today
It’s common to need doctors to help you feel better and recover physically after a back injury. Likewise, you might need legal counsel to recover financially.
If you sustained a back injury in an accident or otherwise due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a seasoned personal injury lawyer today for help. An experienced attorney can estimate how much money your back injury might be worth and represent you as you seek the compensation you deserve.