Auto accidents are the leading cause of injury every year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. One type of injury that is particularly devastating is an injury to the spine.
Spinal injuries can be very painful, prevent a person from being able to perform even the most basic tasks, and can cause long-term impairment. For residents of South Carolina who have suffered a neck, back, or spinal cord injury in a car accident, legal remedies are available.
Types of Neck, Back, and Spine Injuries from an Auto Accident
The degree and specific type of neck, back, or spinal injury that a person sustains in a car crash depends on a number of factors. Some of these factors include the speed at which the vehicles were traveling at the time of collision, the point of impact, the location of the victim within the vehicle, whether the victim was directly impacted, and whether the victim was wearing a seatbelt.
The types of neck, back, and spine injuries that a person may be at risk of sustaining in a car accident include:
- Soft tissue back injuries
- Vertebrae injuries
- Complete spinal cord injuries
- Incomplete spinal cord injuries
Complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries are among the most severe. However, the other injuries types can be excruciatingly painful, disabling, and may require intensive medical treatment to remedy.
Whiplash Injuries, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Vertebrae Injuries
Whiplash occurs when the neck snaps forward and backward, similar to a whip, earning the injury type its name. According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is characterized by neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. Sometimes, a whiplash injury will heal on its own with time. Often, the use of a foam collar, physical therapy, prescription or over-the-counter pain drugs, or other medical interventions may be necessary.
Soft tissue injuries refer to any injuries that occur that do not involve bones. A whiplash injury is a type of soft tissue injury. Other soft tissue injuries that may occur in the neck or back include ligament pulls or tears, tendon tears, muscle strains, and bruising. Like whiplash, other soft tissue injuries may heal on their own, but may also require medical intervention when severe. In some cases, tendon and ligament tears will require surgical intervention.
Finally, vertebrae injuries can also occur during a car accident. The vertebral column consists of 33 vertebrae. When a vertebra suffers trauma in a car accident, it may fracture. Minimal fractures will heal on their own in approximately 12 weeks. More complicated fracture patterns may require surgery. When fractures are especially severe, they can pierce the spinal cord.
Spinal Cord Injuries
When trauma to the back results in disruption to the spinal cord, a person is at risk of paralysis. There are two types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete.
In an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is partially severed. In a complete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is completely severed. In a complete spinal cord injury, the complete and permanent loss of function below the point of injury occurs. This means that a person who suffers a complete spinal cord injury will be completely paralyzed from the location of the injury downward. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, the victim may retain some function while suffering partial paralysis.
At this point, there are no known treatments or remedies for paralysis caused by a complete spinal cord injury. A person who is paralyzed in a car accident will most likely suffer paralysis for life.
Spinal Cord Lawsuits – What to Do if You Have a Spinal Injury
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury or another type of back or neck injury in a car accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your damages. To file a lawsuit and claim damages, you will need to:
- Identify the at-fault party.
- Prove that the at-fault party acted negligently.
- Demonstrate that your injuries would not have occurred but for the party’s negligence.
Examples of negligence that can lead to a car accident that caused a spinal cord injury include speeding, drinking while driving, driving while distracted, violating traffic laws, or driving aggressively. In some cases, the manufacturer or distributor of a vehicle or vehicle part may be held liable if the injury would not have occurred but for the defect or if the defect made the injury worse than it otherwise would have been.
South Carolina uses a fault system for determining who must pay for the losses caused by a car accident. Not only does this mean that you should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company after an accident, but also that you have the right to pursue a civil action directly against the at-fault party. In most cases, you must bring your action within three years from the date that your injury occurred.
How a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Sustaining a spinal cord injury, whiplash injury, or other back or neck injury in a car accident can be a very emotional experience. Not only may you not have the energy to do so on your own, but you may be physically incapable of collecting evidence, filing a claim, and proving damages after a car accident. When this is the case, you can turn to the South Carolina car accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm.
At Joye Law Firm, we understand how important it is for you and your family that you receive compensation after a car accident that fully covers the extent of losses that you have suffered. A spinal cord injury lawsuit can help you to do just that. We promise to work hard on your behalf, and will never charge you unless your claim is successful. For a free consultation, fill out our contact form online or call us at your earliest convenience.