Neck injuries cause multiple symptoms, ranging from mild to catastrophic. Neck injuries such as whiplash can cause symptoms such as pain and immobility, for example. Neck injuries that involve the spinal cord can cause paralysis. A 25-year-old whose spinal cord injury has caused quadriplegia will incur more than $2.3 million in healthcare costs and living expenses related to the injury, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCIS).
What Causes Neck Injuries?
Not only do the injuries and symptoms vary widely, but so do the causes. Vehicle accidents often cause neck injuries. Some types of vehicle accidents, such as those involving a bicycle or motorcycle, have a high incidence of neck injuries, because riders can be thrown or fall and injure their necks. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of whiplash, and also responsible for 38 percent of spinal cord injuries.
But neck injuries can also stem from slipping and falling. Falls can cause neck injuries ranging from mild to serious. They are the second leading cause of spinal cord injury, for example, causing nearly 31 percent of all cases.
Sports are also a frequent cause of neck injuries. Sports such as diving and soccer may make participants particularly prone to neck injuries.
Types of Neck Injuries
Let’s look closer at common neck injuries.
Whiplash gets its name from the direct cause: the body moving abruptly back and forth, as a whip does when it’s cracked. If a car is rear-ended, for example, the occupants may be thrown forward and then back by the impact. While vehicle accidents are responsible for most whiplash cases, any event that causes abrupt and violent body movement can result in whiplash. Being jostled on a fast roller coaster ride at an amusement park, for example, can also cause whiplash.
The result? Sprains or strains to the neck, its tendons, and its ligaments, frequently known as whiplash. Whiplash causes multiple symptoms, such as neck pain, lack of mobility, and headaches. The symptoms may also result in insomnia, irritability, and depression.
Whiplash symptoms don’t always manifest immediately after an accident. Once they do occur, whiplash can be treated with rest and medication. Most people with whiplash get better within a few weeks by following a treatment plan. However, some people have long-term pain and other symptoms from whiplash.
Spinal Cord Injury
Any impact on the neck or head can damage the spinal cord. Damage to the cervical vertebrae can cause partial or complete paralysis. Spinal cord injuries can also cause permanent losses in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the site on the spinal cord where the injury occurred.
Spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic, causing immediate changes in the victim’s ability to maintain the activities of daily living and to work at former occupations. Victims of these injuries may need around-the-clock medical care and retrofitted living quarters to allow wheelchairs, medical equipment, and assistive devices.
Unfortunately, patients with paraplegia or quadriplegia are also prone to certain injuries and illnesses, such as bedsores, pneumonia, and infection. Their life expectancy may be curtailed. The average life expectancy for a person who becomes paralyzed at the age of 20 is currently 45, far below the life expectancy average in the United States.
A pinched nerve is literally what the term implies: a nerve compressed by surrounding tissue. The compression causes inflammation and interferes with the function of the nerve.
Pinched nerves can be very painful. The pain can be confined to the neck or radiate into the arms, shoulders, and upper body generally. Tingling or numbness can also be symptoms of pinched nerves in the neck.
Compressed nerves can be caused by vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or any other traumatic event that causes blows to the neck.
A pinched nerve can also stem from cervical stenosis or herniated disks.
Cervical stenosis is a narrowing in the center of vertebrae. This stenosis results in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve. Stenosis can cause pain, numbness, weakness, or difficulty moving.
Cervical stenosis is most commonly related to age, but accidents can also cause it, via certain types of neck injuries that cause pressure or trauma on the neck vertebrae.
Who Is Responsible for My Neck Injury?
To determine responsibility for a neck injury, it is first necessary to determine what caused the accident or event that resulted in injury. If another person or party caused the accident or event, that person or entity may have legal liability for damages.
If a rear-end car collision triggered whiplash, for example, the at-fault driver may have liability for injuries caused by the accident.
In other cases, determining the parties who have legal liability is more complicated. If a student on the high school soccer team suffers a neck injury, the school may bear full or partial fault, such as because of inadequate coaching and training of the players or improper refereeing and player oversight.
What Do I Do if I Have a Neck Injury?
If someone else’s wrongful actions caused your neck injury, contact an attorney right away. A skilled personal injury attorney can advise you on the strength of your case and potential compensation for damages.
In Nebraska, possible damages for a neck injury include:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance services, doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, and prescription medication
- Prospective medical expenses for ongoing care
- Current lost wages if your injury caused you to miss work
- Future lost wages if your injury will cause you to miss work or has rendered you unable to work in the future
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs
- Assistive device costs for items such as wheelchairs
- Long-term healthcare in the case of long-term injuries requiring around-the-clock care
- Modifications required for your living quarters, such as ramps, handrails, etc.
- Replacement services for domestic chores you can no longer perform, such as cooking, cleaning, lawn care, snow removal, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Damages are determined by reviewing your existing and future expenses, analyzing your lost past and future wages, and assessing the amount of pain and suffering and other emotional and psychological damages you have suffered.
If you need more information and assistance for a neck injury, contact an experienced attorney today.