Major back injuries can be life-changing. They usually involve long and expensive recovery processes and can be both physically and mentally draining. Often these injuries come from an incident involving physical trauma and are sometimes caused as a result of another person’s negligence. If your back injury came as the result of the actions of another person, it’s important to know what is considered a major back injury, as it affects the legal course of action you may take.
If you have been involved in an incident where you have sustained a major back injury, contact The Law Place today! We can put you in contact with one of our personal injury lawyers, who can help you to distinguish whether you have a major or minor back injury and what legal action you may be able to take. Our lawyers, with over 75 years of experience, are dedicated to getting you the justice you deserve and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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What Are the Differences Between a Minor and Major Back Injury?
Generally, minor back injuries involve afflictions involving the soft tissue of the back. These injuries include pulled muscles, sprains, and strains. Major back injuries, on the other hand, involve permanent injuries, ranging from fractures to dismemberment. It is important to note, though, that what appears to be a minor injury at first can become a major injury after some time. Therefore, it is important to get medical attention if you have been involved in an incident so that you get a proper diagnosis of your injury.
It is important to distinguish whether you have suffered from a major back injury as a major injury is necessary to claim under Floridian laws. For example, as highlighted in Florida Statute 627.737, if you have been involved in a car accident, you cannot hold the other driver liable unless the crash caused you major injury.
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What Are the Symptoms of a Major Back Injury?
If you have been involved in physical trauma, it’s important to keep an eye on your health in case you have suffered a major back injury. There are a number of symptoms that indicate that you have suffered a back injury:
- Back pain or tenderness.
- Severe and/ or sharp pain that becomes worse when you move (this includes severe pain when laughing, sneezing, or coughing).
- Muscle spasms near your spine.
- Pain that radiates down into either or both of your legs.
- Bruising on your back.
- Swelling near your spine.
If you have these symptoms after physical trauma, then it is likely that you have a back injury. If you are experiencing back pain without having had physical trauma, then it is unlikely that your pain is caused by an injury. It is more likely that you may have a condition, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, or a factor such as your age, weight, or general lifestyle may be causing it.
What Causes Major Back Injuries?
Whilst back injuries of varying intensity can occur from even minimal movements, major back injuries usually occur from more intense physical trauma. It is possible, though, for a major back injury to be the result of overuse injuries. Some ways in which major back injuries occur include:
- An incident playing sport.
- A fall.
- A car accident.
- Work-related injuries.
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What Types of Major Back Injury Can Be Caused By a Car Accident?
Car accidents usually involve the body experiencing high amounts of pressure and force, meaning that the body can be moved in many different directions, impacted in different places, and hit at different angles. This means that a number of different severe back injuries can occur as a result of car accidents, such as:
Whiplash is extremely common for those who have been involved in a car accident. Whilst it is more commonly known as affecting the neck, it can also cause issues with your back, especially low back pain.
Generally, whiplash can be treated through pain relief, management, and physical therapy. However, if your symptoms aren’t going away, are getting worse, or involve additional symptoms such as arm and leg numbness or tingling, it is best to visit a doctor to make sure that you are not suffering from a different injury.
Whiplash can be legally considered minor or major, depending on its severity. If you have sustained whiplash from a car accident, it is best to see a doctor and a lawyer to understand whether it can be labeled a minor or major injury.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is a long column of nerves that goes from the base of the skull down to the lower back and acts as a pathway for signals sent between the brain and the body. A car accident can cause damage to the spinal cord, potentially through bruising it or even tearing it.
This is a very significant type of major back injury, as it can cause permanent nerve damage and potentially paralysis. Due to this, spinal cord injuries require urgent treatment. If you believe that you have sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident, then try not to move until you have been safely transferred to a medical center.
Down your spinal column, there are a number of discs of soft tissue that sit between your vertebrae. When you experience a high amount of force, such as in a car accident, these discs can slip out of place and sometimes even rupture or crack.
Whist a herniated disc (also known as a ruptured disc) is itself painless, it can press against nerves in your spine, which can then cause back pain, particularly acute low back pain. Other symptoms of a herniated disc are weakness and numbness through the legs and feet (often associated with compression in the lumbar spine) and weakness and numbness through the arms and hands, as well as shoulder and neck pain (associated with compression in the cervical spine).
Like with other bones in our body, when the spine experiences a high amount of force, the bones can sustain fractures from car accidents. One reason that you may suffer from fractured vertebrae, for example, is due to your upper body moving whilst the seatbelt keeps the bottom half of your body still.
Whilst a herniated disc involves the tissue between the vertebrae slipping out, spondylolisthesis involves the bones themselves slipping out of position. Much like a herniated disc, it is possible to have spondylolisthesis with no symptoms. However, the slipped vertebra can put pressure on nerves in the back, causing symptoms such as low back pain, back stiffness, and difficulty or pain when walking, standing, and bending over.
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When Should I See a Doctor About a Major Back Injury?
With general back pain, it is often best to try and treat yourself before seeking treatment from a medical provider. This self-treatment involves taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying ice, then heat. If your pain lasts for longer than two weeks, then it is a good idea to visit your family doctor to help figure out the root cause of your pain.
Major back injuries, however, are more urgent and may require urgent medical care. If your back pain has resulted from physical trauma, then it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if it is severe and is preventing you from working and going about your daily activities. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, then you should immediately seek urgent medical care:
- Loss of bladder control.
- Loss of bowel control.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Loss of strength in limbs.
How Are Major Back Injuries Diagnosed?
Generally, major back injuries are easier to diagnose than chronic pain, as the cause of the injury is generally better known. A doctor’s visit for a major back injury will usually involve a physical exam that looks at your range of movement. It is important at this point to notify your doctor if you are having issues going to the toilet, as that can indicate a more serious medical issue.
In order to diagnose a major back injury, the doctor may conduct some tests. These include bone scans, to help discover any fractures or bone disorders you may have, or diagnostic imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRI scans, and X-rays, which can provide images of soft tissue and bone structures, helping to diagnose injuries that affect the bones and nerves in your back, such as a fracture, a herniated disc, or spondylolisthesis.
How Are Major Back Injuries and Back Pain Treated?
The treatment process for major back injuries is long and can involve multiple types of treatment on the road to recovery.
Due to the amount of acute back pain that a major back injury can cause you, especially in the short-term aftermath of the physical trauma that caused it, your doctor will recommend that you take over-the-counter painkillers to help manage your pain. If your pain cannot be relieved by over-the-counter medication, then your doctor may prescribe you stronger pain relief, as well as muscle relaxants if you are suffering from muscle spasms.
Corticosteroid injections, also known as steroid injections, are injections with anti-inflammatory effects used to help reduce inflammation involved in major back injuries, as well as other conditions. These are only used in the short term due to their negative side-effect. In addition to this, steroid injections get less useful the more they are used, so using them long-terms means that they lose their effect.
Chiropractic care is a type of treatment used by those who have sustained both major and minor back injuries and those who have general back pain. Chiropractors manipulate the spinal column, aiming to relieve pain and restore proper mobility to joints to allow them to heal properly when they may have previously been restricted through injury to the surrounding tissue.
Whilst chiropractic care can seem intimidating, it is generally considered to be safe and effective in treating low back pain. It is best to consult with your doctor, though, as to whether chiropractic care is suitable for you. Some injuries, such as spinal cord compression, are not compatible with chiropractic care, and others, such as herniated discs, can potentially be worsened by chiropractic care.
Many people believe that if you have sustained a major back injury, bed rest is the best solution for recovery. We know now, however, that whilst bed rest is good in the short term, it is important to stay active in the long term.
If you have sustained a major back injury, it is likely that, once you have recovered to a certain extent, your doctor will prescribe you a course of physical therapy. This will help to build up your range of motion, strength, and balance. Your therapist can also teach you exercises that you can perform at home both during your recovery and beyond in order to help prevent further back pain and injury to your back in the future.
Surgery is usually the last resort solution due to its invasiveness. However, it is necessary and the best solution for some major back injuries.
What Types of Compensation Can I Get in a Major Back Injury Claim?
If you do have a major back injury, you may choose to make a claim if this injury was caused by another person, usually through negligence. Claims for major back injuries, with common claims of this type coming as the result of car accidents, allow you to recover damages of different types:
- Property damage.
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages (both past and future).
- Pain and suffering.
Through these settlements, you can recover both economic damages, such as medical bills, where there is an exact monetary loss that came as a result of your major back injury, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, which are subjective and do not have a direct monetary amount attached to them.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim About My Major Back Injury?
Whilst Florida law does not specifically give a time frame for major back injuries, they do give a time frame to bring a personal injury claim, which is a common cause of major back injuries. Under Florida Statute 95.11, a personal injury action founded on negligence must be brought be four years.
Contact The Law Place Today About Your Major Back Injury!
Major back injuries can be life-altering. They require a great deal of time and treatment, and therefore money, whether that be through treatment costs or lost wages. Considering the severe pain you are likely to be experiencing, it is important that you receive as much support as possible through your recovery process – not only physical and emotional but also legal. If you have sustained a back injury in an incident that was not your fault, then it is important to inform yourself of what legal proceedings you can bring in order to claim damages.
Here at The Law Place, we want to help bring you the justice you deserve. Our dedicated team, with over 75 years of experience, can help you to distinguish what legal proceedings you can bring based on the injury you have sustained. We can set up a free consultation for you with one of our personal injury lawyers, who can give you advice on whether your back injury would legally be considered major. Our lawyers value the attorney-client relationship and will be sensitive to your personal situation.
If you want to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers, then call The Law Place at (941) 444-4444.
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