Car accidents are common, and unfortunately, they frequently lead to back injuries, which can be especially painful and especially difficult to overcome. If another motorist’s negligence leaves you with a back injury, an experienced car accident attorney in South Carolina can help.
Car Accident Back Injuries
The Mayo Clinic shares some concerning facts about back injuries and back pain, including:
- They are the leading cause of doctor visits.
- They are the leading cause of missed work.
- They are the leading cause of disability across the world.
In other words, back injuries are as common as they are debilitating. Further, back injuries are often caused by strain in the muscles or ligaments, which can be brought on by a sudden thrust or impact, such as in a car accident.
Car Accident Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe back injuries a person can sustain. Car accidents are the leading cause of these injuries, and some of the common signs of a spinal cord injury (according to the Mayo Clinic) include:
- A change in your ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Exaggerated or spasmodic reflexes
- Pain or intense stinging
Signs that your injury may be an emergency include:
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing your lungs
- Weakness, incoordination, or paralysis anywhere
- Extreme pain and pressure in your back, neck, or head
- A loss of bladder or bowel control
- Numbness or tingling – or any other loss of sensation – in your hands, feet, fingers, or toes
- Difficulty with walking or maintaining your balance
- Visibly awkward positioning of the neck or back
If the spinal cord is severed completely, it means complete paralysis below the injury site, and it typically requires a lifetime of serious medical needs.
Obtain Medical Attention
If you’ve been in a car accident that involves any significant impact – even if you don’t have any dangerous symptoms – you should seek immediate medical attention to rule out the possibility of a spinal cord injury. All of the following make erring on the side of caution the best course of action:
- A severe spinal cord injury can go undetected after an accident (the shock and stress of the accident can help mask the symptoms). The damage can become even more severe the longer you wait to obtain medical care.
- Paralysis can come on gradually – as bleeding or swelling in and around the spinal cord builds up.
- The lapse of time between suffering a spinal cord injury and getting the medical treatment that you need can directly affect how serious your complications will be and how complete your recovery will likely be.
In other words, obtaining treatment as soon after the car accident as possible is critical to your ongoing health and well-being.
Some of the most common effects of a serious spinal cord injury include:
- Permanent loss of bladder and bowel control
- Loss in skin sensation in the affected area
- Loss of circulatory control in the affected area
- A weakened respiratory system makes it more difficult to breathe and cough
- Loss of muscle tone
- Decreased fitness and wellness
- Decreased sexual health
- Chronic pain
Treatment and Care
The treatment and care required for a serious spinal cord injury focus on emergency treatment initially. Beyond that, moves on to prevention of secondary health issues, pain management, and intensive rehabilitation. The medical costs associated with complete paralysis or any other kind of serious spinal cord injury do not end.
The Other Driver’s Negligence
Serious car accidents often cause serious back injuries, and the accidents themselves are often caused by driver negligence.
It’s a fact that drunk drivers are out there, which tend to cause the most dangerous accidents. Drunk drivers suffer cognitive, sensory (vision), and physical impairments that leave them in no condition to drive, yet many continue to do so. If you think the driver who leaves you injured might be drunk, let the attending officer know – this information will be necessary for your claim as you move forward.
While drowsy drivers are unlikely to be aware of the impairments they experience, the truth remains that they’re similar to those experienced by drunk drivers. Exhaustion behind the wheel is a serious problem that puts us all at increased danger on our roadways.
Excess speed translates to more dangerous accidents, which means it often plays a role in serious accidents that lead to serious back injuries. Driving at a safe speed is not just about obeying the speed limit but also involves adjusting one’s speed to account for dangers, such as:
- Poorly maintained roads
- The effects of inclement weather on the road
- Any impediments to visibility
- Road construction
- Dangerous traffic activity
The primary task that every driver is responsible for is paying attention to the road ahead and the traffic all around, and distracted drivers are incapable of fulfilling this responsibility. While distractions come in all shapes and sizes, texting is the most dangerous of all. When a driver spends the average of five seconds that it takes to write or send a text, his eyes, hands, and thoughts are otherwise engaged for about the length of a football field (when traveling at highway speeds), and that takes dangerous distractions to an entirely new level.
Aggressive drivers take their anger out on the road ahead, which means they set out to cause trouble. While the hallmark of aggressive driving is extreme speed, aggressive drivers are generally engaged in a few dangerous driving practices at any given moment. Consider the following examples:
- Zigzagging in and out of traffic
- Attempting to engage other motorists with verbal harangues, obscene gestures, incessant honking, flashing headlights, or any other confrontational act
- Ignoring traffic signals, lights, and signs
- Never yielding the right-of-way
- Passing illegally
Your Car Crash Claim
You’ve suffered a back injury due to another driver’s negligence, and you will file your car accident claim with that driver’s insurance company, which is paid to cover your damages (or losses), but that is motivated by its profits. This setup can make obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to reach your fullest recovery complicated. Still, there are some things that you can do to help protect your claim throughout the process, including:
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Follow your medical team’s instructions carefully
- Consult with a dedicated car crash lawyer as soon after the accident as possible
- Allow your attorney to interact with the insurance company on your behalf (you are not required to provide them with a statement, and you are better off not doing so)
- Take a social media until your claim is finalized (the insurance company is looking for an opportunity to twist your words into something that suits its self-serving narrative)
Several frequently asked questions tend to apply across all car accident claims.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
You do not have to worry about your ability to afford a car accident lawyer. The majority of reputable car crash lawyers are paid on contingency. This means their pay is contingent on your settlement or court award. Once your case is finalized, your car accident attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of your compensation, and if there is no compensation, you won’t owe a thing.
Is there a time limit for filing a back injury lawsuit?
In the State of South Carolina, the statute of limitations – the length of time you have to file a lawsuit – is three years. This generally means that you have three years from the date of the accident that left you with a back injury to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (usually through their insurance company). While this may seem like ample time, the claims process can be long and arduous, and time has a way of swiftly passing.
What if the insurance company makes an early offer?
Early settlement offers are generally an attempt to settle before you recognize the extent of the damages you’ve suffered. Before accepting any offer from the insurance company, discussing the matter with a car accident lawyer well acquainted with your claim is well advised.
Look to an Experienced South Carolina Car Crash Attorney for the Legal Guidance You Need
The experienced car accident lawyers at David Aylor Law Offices in South Carolina understand the gravity of your claim and your situation, and we are committed to harnessing our wealth of experience in the determined pursuit of your claim’s most favorable outcome. To learn more about how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 843-744-444 to schedule your free consultation today.