I Hurt My Back or Neck In a Car Accident

Back and neck injuries, or injuries to the spine and surrounding soft tissues are common after a car accident or other accident.  Even though these injuries are often very painful, it can be difficult to describe the source of your pain with enough detail to satisfy the insurance company’s adjuster.  The anatomy of the spine is very complicated and medical terminology associated with back and neck injuries can be confusing.  Here, we will answer some common questions about spine and soft tissue injuries so you can communicate more effectively with your doctor, the insurance company, and your personal injury lawyer.

What is a “soft tissue” injury?

A soft tissue injury is an injury to the soft tissues of the body — the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  Ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect one bone to another.  Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone.  When a ligament is stretched or torn, this is called a “sprain.” When a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn, this is called a “strain.”

What is a spinal disc?

A spinal disc (also called an “intervertebral disc”) is a flat, round or oval structure that sits between two spinal vertebrae (the bones of the spine).  The discs serve as padding between the vertebrae and work like shock absorbers.  Each disc has a tough outer membrane and a softer core.

What is a herniated disc?

“Herniated disc” is a term used to describe a disc with an asymmetrical bulge.  The bulge occurs when the disc core leaks outside the perimeter of the disc (think of the jelly oozing out of a jelly donut).

What is a bulging disc?

The term “bulging disc” refers to a symmetrically expanded disc.  In other words, it is a disc in which the core material leaks around the entire circumference of the disc.

What is disc degeneration?

Over time, a disc may degenerate and shrink or lose height.  This frequently happens because of the natural aging process.  Even though an auto accident or other traumatic event doesn’t cause deterioration, an accident or traumatic event can cause a disc herniation.  This may end up resulting in degeneration.

What is a facet joint injury?

A joint is where two bones meet.  The joints in the spine are called facet joints.  The facet joints allow the bones of the spine to glide smoothly through a range of motions.  Injury to the facet joint will result in the joint becoming stiff, swollen, and tender.

How can a soft tissue injury cause nerve damage?

A soft tissue injury or spinal injury can result in permanent and painful nerve damage if swelling caused by the primary injury (e.g. a herniated or bulging disc) causes compression on the nerve.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is the word commonly used to describe a neck sprain or strain caused by a sudden, rapid and exaggerated stretching of the soft tissues of the neck.  Most people associate “whiplash” with neck pain and headaches, but whiplash-related trauma can be much more extensive and severe.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury or “TBI” is an injury to the brain that results in physical, intellectual, emotional and social impairments.  You do not have to hit your head to sustain a TBI.  The rapid and harsh movement of the head and neck during a whiplash can cause the brain to hit the back of the skull, rebound, and hit the front of the skull.  This impact can be significant  enough to cause the soft tissue of the brain to bruise, swell or tear.  A mild traumatic brain injury may resolve in a matter of days or weeks, but a more severe injury may result in permanent brain damage.

If you have questions about any aspect of your injury claim — medical, legal, or insurance-related — we can help you find the answers you need.  If you are ready to consult with a personal injury lawyer, please call us.

How Long Can I Wait to Call a Lawyer?

When you’re injured in an auto accident in Virginia or West Virginia, you must be aware of the statute of limitations which applies in your particular case. The statute of limitations refers to the time you have following an accident to file a lawsuit.  In both Virginia and West Virginia, this time limit depends upon the circumstances of your accident and injury.  The time limitation starts to run on the date of the accident.  Filing a claim with an insurance company does not extend or delay the time.

The longer you wait to contact an attorney, the greater the risk that the statute of limitations time limit will expire. If it does, you may lose your right to sue the at-fault party and recover compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been seriously injured and someone else is at fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney at the earliest possible time.  Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer early in your case will help prevent deadlines from expiring and will allow your case to be properly prepared.

To be able to determine whether you have a case, your lawyer needs to thoroughly investigate the details about your accident and injuries. Investigating the accident and collecting information is much easier if it occurs quickly after the accident has happened. A time delay can result in many problems like lost evidence and witnesses who can’t be found.

When you hire a lawyer to handle your car accident claim, he or she will first negotiate with the insurance company to try to settle your claim. If settlement negotiations break down, your attorney will prepare to file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial. For this reason, it is especially important that you get an experienced lawyer to help with your case, such as one certified through the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Talk With A Virginia And West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia or West Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Winchester, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and Staunton, and also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.


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