Pain. Your pain after a car accident is from an injury that has caused a nerve to be pressed, pinched, or damaged. This nerve damage causes pain that can be debilitating. It is the most common injury after a car accident. This article will discuss how to diagnose the injury, treat it, and how to get the compensation that you deserve.
Nerve damage, also known as peripheral neuropathy, damages the nerves around the brain and spinal cord. All body parts are interconnected through the central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. The physical trauma of an auto collision can lead to a wide possibility of damage. Nerve damage can range from mild, temporary numbness or permanent paralysis.
Some nerve damage happens gradually, while other victims experience sharp, immediate pain after the accident. Furthermore, treating nerve damage often requires the expertise of a skilled neurologist. However, many people find relief with chiropractic treatment that relieves the pressure being placed on the nerves.
Treatment costs will depend on the severity of your injury. Even a minor injury could prevent someone from carrying out daily life activities or returning to work for a while. However, more serious injuries require more invasive medical treatment.
After sustaining injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you have a right to seek compensation. A skilled Florida car accident attorney can help you seek reimbursement for medical expenses, future medical care, and damages for lifestyle changes from catastrophic injuries.
Types of Nerves and Their Functions
The spine has 31 pairs of nerves extending to different body areas. Those nerves send signals that help the body move, feel, and function.
When you are involved in a car accident, the impact from the collision can cause those nerves to get compressed, crushed, or stretched. Each person will experience nerve damage injuries differently, depending on their condition before the accident, how serious the collision was, and which type of nerve was injured.
Motor nerves control motor skills, like body movement. So if you sustain damage to any motor nerves, that can interfere with motor functions like standing or walking.
Sensory nerves help us feel different sensations like temperature, smells, sounds, and more. You may experience numbness or tingling pain when the injury affects sensory nerves. That can be localized or experienced in a large area of your body.
Autonomic nerves are those associated with the body’s involuntary systems. They help regulate systems like the heart and lungs and bodily functions like digestion.
While some nerve damage victims will experience apparent symptoms immediately after the accident, that’s not always the case. For example, you may experience numbness in a leg or foot or even random shooting pain down a leg. This pain is sometimes described to feel like a bolt of fire down the leg.
While time helps to heal the nerve injuries, if untreated, the pain will come back and linger the rest of your life. If they are diagnosed promptly and correctly, treatment outcomes are more likely to be successful. That’s why it’s imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident.
Signs You Might Have Nerve Damage
Sometimes victims may not immediately feel nerve damage symptoms after a car accident. This is true especially if they have other injuries. For example, concussions, bleeding, cuts, or pain can distract the victim from the signs of nerve damage. In addition, the shock and adrenaline after a collision often mask an injury’s actual pain.
Watch for any of these symptoms after a car accident; some can be very subtle and take hours or days to appear.
- Prickling or burning sensations
- A sharp, shooting pain
- Pain that radiates to an injured body part (for example, sciatica is a pain that runs from the low back, down the back of the leg and calf, and to the toes)
- Muscle weakness or spasm
- Slowed reflexes
- Foot drop
- Loss of balance
- Bladder control issues or incontinence
- Sexual dysfunction
While symptoms can occur anywhere in the body, they are most commonly present along the spine or extremities. Some victims can experience numbness and tingling in the fingertips or up the arm. Since the symptoms can vary widely, it’s critical to see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Did the Accident Cause the Nerve Damage Injury?
If you want compensation for your injuries, your lawyer must be able to prove that the accident caused your injuries. If you have any of the following injuries that resulted from the crash, this can further support your claim that the accident caused your nerve damage.
Pinched nerves are a result of inflamed and swollen muscles compressing nerves. When the soft tissues around the spine compress nerves, the victims may experience pain, discomfort, or any of the symptoms listed above.
Whiplash is a common car accident neck injury. The jerking motion from the crash twerks the neck and back and forth. Then that puts pressure on the nerves at the base of the neck and shoulders.
A sudden, violent twisting motion can cause damage to the vertebrae or discs in the spine. A herniated disc is a slipped or ruptured disc that can compress the spine’s nerves and radiate to other body parts.
Blunt Force Trauma
Any blunt force to the head or body during an accident can lead to compressed, pinched, or severed nerves in that area.
Like any other injury, recovery times for all of these conditions vary. Likewise, each nerve injury victim will experience a unique recovery path. Since nerve tissue requires time to regrow and repair, recovery time may be longer than a cut or bruise.
Some damage will be more than just a nuisance. That’s why it’s imperative to see a doctor immediately after the accident. In doing so, you can correctly assess the nature and extent of your injuries. Furthermore, a professional medical assessment can help you determine if you will regain full function of your nerves or if you may face long-term complications.
Understanding the prognosis for recovery from nerve damage or any other injury is vital when negotiating a settlement. If your injuries interfere with your ability to return to work, live independently, or enjoy life, you deserve to seek compensation for those losses.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Nerve Damage
In order to recover compensation, you must have a diagnosis from a doctor and a test that confirms it. If you went to the hospital and had an X-ray, that is not enough. You will need a more sensitive diagnostic tool. It is only by using these tests that you will learn what exactly is causing the pain.
Tests that can help diagnose nerve damage include:
- EMG (Electromyography) to test for nerve functioning.
- A Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) can show how the muscles respond to stimuli and measure electrical activity.
- MRI or CT scans can help identify internal injuries like herniated discs. Such testing will also help determine the underlying cause of the nerve damage.
Out of these tests, an MRI is the most common and most effective. Your doctor or chiropractor will likely order an MRI as soon as the swelling goes down.
Your doctor will then prescribe an appropriate treatment plan depending on the results of the testing.
The most common types of nerve injuries include:
- Neurapraxia is a lack of blood supply to the nerves due to compression or some other interruption. This most commonly occurs due to a pinched nerve or whiplash. Full recovery from neurapraxia usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks.
- Axonotmesis: is when an injury crushes the nerves. Axonotmesis results when the nerves are damaged from a violent impact. As a result, the victim could suffer partial or complete paralysis.
- Neurotmesis: this is the most serious form of nerve damage when the nerves are crushed or severed. The injury victim may regain partial feeling and mobility of the localized area. But sadly, full recovery is almost impossible with neurotmesis.
For neurapraxia and axonotmesis, standard treatment plans include:
- Braces or splints
- Physical therapy
- And muscle exercises to regain strength and range of motion.
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Massage therapy
- Ice and heat
The above treatments are considered conservative. The majority of nerve injury cases resolve without the need for more invasive treatment. But, for serious cases, there are additional levels of treatment. Usually, the first step is a round of injections. If they are unsuccessful, some patients try a Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA). An RFA burns the nerve that is causing the pain. If none of these techniques work, then surgery is the last resort
Compensation for Nerve Damage
You may wonder how much your car accident case is worth. Medical expenses for nerve damage can include long-term therapy or rehabilitation. We understand how much time and effort it takes going to doctor’s appointments for weeks or months.
In Florida, after you have a positive MRI finding, you have established that you have a permanent injury and can recover money. Here are the rules of thumb for nerve damage injuries:
- Conservative Treatment Only- if your medical treatment ends with only physical therapy or chiropractic care, then it is very difficult to recover more than $50,000. Most of these cases are in the $20,000-$25,000 range.
- Injections- if you have had conservative care and injections, then your case is worth at least $30,000-$50,000.
- RFA- if you have had conservative treatment, injections, and then an RFA, your case is worth $50,000-$65,000.
- Surgery- this is the most serious of options and is worth the most. For a surgery, the case is worth over $200,000.
The physical and financial cost of nerve damage can be life-altering. That’s why you will need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney Today
We understand how difficult car accident injuries are. We specialize in recovering compensation for people injured in car accidents. Nerve damage can be permanent, so it should not be taken lightly. Our skilled Florida Car accident attorneys work aggressively to defend the rights of people injured by someone’s carelessness.
If you suffered nerve damage in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, we advise that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. There is no cost in getting advice about how to protect yourself.
Contact us today for a free no obligation case review.