Back injuries are often debilitating and devastating to your overall lifestyle and ability to work. Severe back injuries make it difficult to stand or sit for long periods and may substantially limit your range of motion. You may need to undergo multiple medical procedures to reduce your back pain and improve mobility. You may also face considerable time out of work, or limited overall work hours, due to your injury’s progression.
If someone else caused your back injuries, you might have a right to considerable compensation for your accident-related losses and struggles. Your recoverable compensation amount varies depending on a variety of factors. Contact a back injury attorney to get the legal help you may need.
1. What back injury did you suffer, and what medical procedures did you need as a result?
Back injuries vary substantially from one accident to the next and even one person to the next in the same accident. When you suffer severe injuries, you may need more extensive medical treatments than if you suffer relatively minor injuries. Your medical costs will typically serve as the foundation of your back injury claim after an accident.
If you have high medical costs from severe injuries, you will often recover more compensation than if you have relatively low medical costs from comparatively minor injuries.
Many car accidents cause whiplash injuries to the neck or back from the abrupt movement of the vehicle. Other accidents, including fall accidents, result in similar damage. If you suffer whiplash in your accident, you may need multiple treatments to help you regain mobility and strength and move without pain.
If you notice signs of whiplash pain, have your doctor conduct scans to identify your injuries and the extent of the damage. You may go through several appointments, visit a chiropractor, or even undergo physical therapy to treat your injuries. All these appointments add up, causing immense financial strain.
Muscle Strains and Sprains
Many accidents cause sprains and strains in the back. Most people rely on their back muscles for standing, sitting, and lying down. Unfortunately, sprains and strains can cause considerable pain and complications. Excess causes weakness in the back muscles leading to further pain and complicating the recovery process. Patients with back muscle sprains and strains may require physical therapy to maximize recovery. Treatment could also require multiple care provider appointments to gauge progress and continue treatment.
Sometimes, the force of a car accident may cause a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc’s soft, jellylike center presses out through the rubbery exterior. Often, it can press against nerves and cause significant pain. Some patients may need surgery to help relieve the pain.
Others may require extensive physical therapy to help with their overall recovery, increase mobility, and ease the pain. In cases where the patient has severe, ongoing symptoms, additional medical care may help alleviate pain and restore some movement and independence.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries create serious, ongoing damage and high medical bills after a car accident. Spinal cord injuries can lead to complete paralysis below the injury site. If you suffered spinal cord injuries in your accident, you might have a long road to recovery ahead of you. Some patients will face over $1 million in medical costs in the first year after the accident alone.
Medical costs include the cost of hospitalization, a stay in a long-term facility, ongoing physical therapy, durable medical equipment to help maintain mobility and independence, and occupational therapy to help you learn how to cope with the physical limitations created by your injuries. Spinal cord injury claims can have significant payouts because of the victim’s immense expenses.
In many cases, a lawyer must review your specific medical expenses during your recovery to better understand the amount of compensation you should expect. Keep track of your medical bills throughout your recovery, including copay amounts, deductibles, and any ongoing medical treatment for your injuries. The more evidence you have to show your expenses, the stronger your compensation claim.
2. How much work did you miss because of your back injury?
Most back injury claims include compensation for lost wages because of your injuries. Back injuries can lead to significant wage loss. A patient experiencing severe back pain may have trouble sitting, standing, or moving around.
Often, back injuries make it very difficult to engage in common activities, especially activities involving lifting and bending. In addition, while some employers may allow employees to return to work on decreased duties while their recovery continues, others may require that employees remain out of work until a doctor clears them, especially if they have duties that include heavy lifting.
In calculating your lost wages, consider the following factors.
After your initial injury, how long did you have to stay out of work?
In many cases, you can miss weeks of work because of a seemingly minor back injury, especially if you work in a manual labor profession. You may find yourself unable to lift and bend or stay on your feet for a long time. Even people who typically work behind desks cannot sit and complete their usual duties due to back injuries.
Patients who experience more severe injuries can spend a long time out of work as they recover from their injuries. For example, a patient who suffers from spinal cord injuries may spend months recovering, even if their job does not require a great deal of mobility.
Did you have to miss time at work for follow-up appointments, therapy, or procedures?
Some patients with severe back injuries need multiple appointments during their recovery period. They may, for example, need physical therapy several times a week following the initial accident, or they may need ongoing procedures to help treat their injuries. The more appointments you attend, the more they may cut into your time at work. Look at the lost time away from work directly resulting from your injuries and consider how that lost time impacts your income.
Did you have to go back to work part-time rather than full-time?
Sometimes, your injuries allow you to work but not spend a full eight hours at your job. You might recover the ability to return to work on a limited basis but not go back every weekday. If you must adjust your work hours because of your back injury, especially if you have to permanently adjust your hours because of your injuries, you may face a long-term income deficit. Talk to your lawyer about this change to your income.
Did your injuries permanently prevent you from working in your former position or industry?
Some back injuries are permanently devastating. They may prevent you from working in your former industry altogether. Suppose, for example, that you worked in construction but suffered back injuries putting you in a wheelchair. You might lose your ability to work on a construction site safely, preventing you from working in your industry.
Spinal cord injuries might not allow you to work in an office environment or might, in extreme cases, prevent you from working altogether after your accident.
If you lose your complete ability to work because of your back injury from an accident, you may include lost earning potential as part of your claim. While compensation for lost earning potential may not provide you with a lifelong source of income, it can help rebuild your life after a back injury.
3. How does your back injury impact the non-financial areas of your life?
In addition to compensation for the direct financial losses you sustained, many accident claims will compensate for non-financial losses and challenges you faced because of the accident. Comprehensive compensation takes the physical pain you sustained into account and considers your other losses and challenges.
Does your back injury prevent you from participating in a hobby you used to enjoy?
For many people, hobbies provide a source of immense enjoyment and pleasure. Unfortunately, severe injuries can interfere with these hobbies and make it impossible to enjoy them the way you did before the accident.
For example, a back injury could prevent you from running, biking, playing sports, or even, in some cases, playing video games or heading out to the movies. It could prevent you from traveling comfortably or attending a sports game. Your loss of enjoyed hobbies can heavily affect your overall mental health.
Did your back injury interfere with your independence?
Many people struggle with the loss of independence following severe injuries. For example, a spinal cord injury that leaves you in a wheelchair could mean that you need ongoing help with daily living activities.
Loss of independence may mean relying on friends and loved ones much more heavily than before or even bringing in outside help for the support you need to live your life despite your injuries. For many people with severe injuries, the loss of independence creates an ongoing sense of shame or frustration.
Has your back injury interfered with your relationships?
Severe injuries often reveal your reliable and trustworthy friends. Unfortunately, these injuries can also cause some friends to drift away, especially if you can no longer participate in shared activities. You may notice that a romantic relationship changes substantially, especially if your back injury interferes with sexual performance or desire. In many cases, severe back injuries can destroy or diminish personal relationships.
Has your back injury interfered with your overall enjoyment of life?
For some people, severe injuries mean permanent life changes, including changes in their ability to live life to the fullest and enjoy it the way they did before the accident. Talk to your lawyer about increased anxiety and depression or decreased overall enjoyment of life from your back injury.
A Lawyer Can Help You Determine the Worth of Your Back Injury
If you have questions about how much compensation you should receive for severe back injuries from an accident, a lawyer can assist and support you. Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident to learn how much compensation you should expect for your back injury.