You need to know what to do after a herniated disc in a car accident. Suffering a herniated disc in a whiplash injury accident is so common that many people suffer from a herniated disc in a car accident. However, a herniated disc injury needs to be properly treated to avoid the result of chronic pain, disability and even paralysis if the spinal cord is damaged. You should receive immediate medical help to have chance at the best possible recovery.
A herniated disc injury can occur in any of the three levels of the spine:
- cervical spine (neck)
- thoracic spine (mid back) and
- lumbar spine (low back).
A disc herniation injury comes in varying degrees, and can cause a victim to suffer neck, back, arm or leg pain as well as numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness, depending on the site of the herniated disc or in the branch of nerves affected by the herniation.
In some instances, surgery is necessary and recommended when a herniation is causing nerve impingement, weakness or touching the spinal cord.
What is a herniated disc?
A car accident related herniated disc can occur in any part of your spine when the force of the crash causes one of your vertebrae (bones stacked make your spine) to push out of place, into your spinal canal, where it may compress or irritate your nearby nerve or spinal cord. The canal is of long nerve roots that resemble an electric cable (cauda equina). The spine disc has a soft jellylike center (nucleus) which is encased in the tougher, rubbery exterior (annulus). Oftentimes people refer to a herniated disc as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, which occurs when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus. The disc prevents the spine bones from rubbing together. The nerves carry messages from your brain to the different parts of your body. A disc herniation can result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg
What Not To Do For Herniated Disc After A Car Accident?
If you suffered a herniated disc in a car accident, follow these important steps:
- Don’t Refuse Immediate Medical Attention. Depending on the severity of the disc injury, your timely medical can make a big difference. Herniated disc treated properly with diagnostic tests and medical treatment generally have a better chance of making a good recovery and preventing potentially a more serious and permanent injury. As an experienced injury lawyer, gives consultative advice to clients that getting medically necessary treatment early on will get you back good health and a full recovery faster. Ruling out potentially more serious injury as soon as possible is critical. If for example the disc material becomes extruded, it can cause permanent nerve or spinal cord damage.
- Don’t delay medical treatment. Get a referral for the MRI diagnostic study to find and diagnose whether you have suffered a herniated disc. Doctors need to verify your injury before they know what is causing your symptoms. Diagnostic testing will help your doctor to prescribe the best medical treatment for you and make the appropriate referrals to a specialist for you. An X-rays are good for finding broken bones, but will not be able to see a herniated disc. The gold standard is the MRI imaging for detecting herniated discs.
- Don’t delay or refuse diagnostic testing. Delayed or absent testing recommended to find the condition of your herniated disc after a car accident may make create problems with your own insurance company. Medical documentation as early as the emergency room or as soon as possible with your family physician will prove to a disability insurance company or a No-Fault insurance company that the crash either caused or contributed to your injury.
- Don’t procrastinate. Showing a clear trail between the collision and the documentation for a condition or injury makes it easier for your lawyer to obtain a full and fair compensation for your injury. Delays in treatment and long gaps in medical evidence can hurt your ability to get better after your injury. In some cases, your injury attorney may have a hard time getting an insurance company adjuster to pay for your medical treatment. Your delay or refusal to follow-up for your injuries may reduce legal settlement after your crash for your pain and suffering.
- Don’t live in denial. It's never good idea to tough out an injury. Herniated discs are very serious injury that can cause permanent pain and suffering with disability if you fail to get the proper medical treatment. As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen so many instances where people tough it out until the problem becomes unbearable. A herniated disc is ticking bomb that is likely to have a serious effect on you at later date. You disc material can become much worse as the annulus tears or the disc material further comes out or presses on your nerves or spinal cord.
- Speak to a personal injury (PI) attorney experienced at helping people injured in car accidents. Your initial consultation is always free of charge. You can learn your rights and what benefits your insurance company is responsible to pay and what medical help and wage loss documentation you will be required to have. A PI lawyer can also help you review your medical records as well as the care and treatment you’re receiving to make sure bills are getting paid and to help you assess what your case might be worth if your pain and disability was caused by another driver’s negligence or carelessness.
- Don't forget to tell your auto insurance company about your symptoms and herniated disc soon after a car accident. If you live in Michigan, make sure to include your symptoms and herniated disc in your written notice of injury - application for No-Fault benefits. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4)).
- Don’t agree to any settlement offers, sign releases, or sign waivers related to your collision until you have talked to an experienced injury attorney who is looking out for your best interests. You may not know your right or the value of your injury case, but we do. Don’t jump on any offer from the at fault driver’s insurance, you are most likely being offered a low ball number, hoping you will take it. As personal injury lawyer, we see this insurance adjuster behavior all of the time, but you may have no idea what kind of compensation you are entitled to be paid.
How To Present A Claim For Herniated Disc After A Car Accident?
In Michigan, starting your herniated disc claim after a car accident is done by filing an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company, in accordance with the No-Fault law’s payer “priority” rules. The No-Fault car insurer will pay for your all of your accident related medical bills and your income lost if you cannot return to work within 30 days of proving reasonable proof.
Sue for a herniated disc after a car accident?
Herniated discs qualified for compensation. If your auto insurance company denies your No-fault Benefits claim related to a herniated disc after a car accident you have suffered and may be continuing to suffer, then you can sue for unpaid or overdue medical bills, attendant care benefits, medical transportation, household replacement services and lost wages because your injuries have kept you from returning to work.
You can also sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation as a result of your crash related injuries, if you first show that the other driver was at-fault for causing the crash and that your physical trauma constitutes a “serious impairment of body function” under our auto law.
Under the new Michigan no-fault reform, you may be able to recover money in a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for other economic damages, such as excess medical bills and excess lost wages, which were not covered by no fault auto insurance.
What Are Symptoms Of Herniated Disc In A Car Accident?
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms after a vehicle crash, then you should seek medical help to determine whether you are suffering from herniated disc type of injury:
- Arm or leg pain. If your herniated disc is in your neck, you typically feel pain in the shoulders and arm. If you have a herniated disc in your back, you may feel pain your foot, buttocks, calf or thigh.
- Persistent aching or stiffness along the spine.
- Numbness or tingling sensation. A herniated disc can cause numbness or tingling.
- Sharp, localized pain in the lower back, neck, or upper back.
- Chronic ache in your upper, middle or lower back, especially after sitting, walking or standing for extended periods.
- Low back pain may radiate from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf, feet and toes.
- Unable to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in your lower back.
Objective Testing and diagnosis
If you have any symptoms of herniated disc after a car accident, your doctor will want to conduct a physical examination and probably use one of the following forms of objective diagnostic tests and imaging studies can help your doctor make a diagnosis and recommend treatment:
What Surgical Treatments Are Available?
Surgery is effective in reducing symptoms such as pain after a car accident. Surgery is one of typically used treatments when all other forms of therapy and pain management have failed to provide meaningful relief.
Surgeons may use the following types of surgical intervention to treat herniated discs:
- Fusion surgery – Surgical procedure to fuse or join two vertebrae to stop painful movement.
- Discectomy surgery – This involves removal of a portion of the herniated or damaged disc.
- Laminectomy Decompression – This procedure removal the bone overlying spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure.
- Vertebroplasty – This procedure injects bone cement into the compressed or fractured vertebrae.
- Artificial disc implant – This procedure implant’s an artificial disc replaced the injured discs to provide stability and eliminate pain. This is a prosthetic disc.
What Is The Success of Surgical Treatment Options For Herniated Disc?
If conservative nonsurgical treatment did not resolve you herniated disc symptoms, your recovery from a herniated disc after a car accident will depend on the type of surgery a victim undergoes:
- Fusion surgery – Removing the disc and fusing two vertebrae is usually an effective, long-term treatment to relieve some symptoms. However, all back pain is never resolved, and surgery may increase the chances of arthritis in adjoining vertebrae.
- Discectomy surgery – Removing part of the disc where the herniation is located to reduce the symptoms can be beneficial in most people who undergo this type of surgery.
- Laminectomy surgery – Laminectomy is a type of surgery in which a surgeon removes part or all of the vertebral bone (lamina). This can reduce symptoms most of the time.
Need The Best Injury lawyer? Call Us First
If you or your family member suffered a herniated disc in or after a car accident and you would like to speak to an experienced injury attorney, call us toll free anytime 24/7 at 1-866-447-3563 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our experienced accident auto attorneys can quickly help you use our contact form. We will come to you if you are unable to travel.