Thunder Bay Neck Injury Lawyer
After any high-impact accident, you may be at risk of sustaining neck injuries. The most common injuries are whiplash and neck sprains, though fractures, misalignments, and disc slippage are also possible. Due to the high risk for neck injuries, you should make sure that you are checked for these potential injuries after an accident.
Whiplash is perhaps the most well-known neck injury, particularly in terms of car accidents. It can happen any time an impact causes your head to suddenly jerk forward and then back. This sudden motion causes the muscles and tendons in your neck to become strained or torn. If you are suffering from whiplash, you will experience symptoms including:
- Pain, especially when moving your head
- Decreased range of motion
- Tense or knotted neck muscles
- Tenderness in your neck
- Headaches starting at the base of your skull
Neck sprains, which are torn ligaments, may also occur after an accident in which your head jerks suddenly. Many symptoms are similar to whiplash, with the addition of muscle spasms, numbness in your arm or hand, and tingling and weakness in your arms. While you may not experience all of these symptoms, explain what you do experience to your doctor in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
Accidents may cause your spinal column to shift in such a way that the vertebrae are out of alignment, and may even cause damage to the discs. The discs are located between each vertebra and function both as shock absorbers and help to connect the vertebrae. Damage to these discs, then, causes pain, as well as a limited range of motion.
Fractures of the cervical vertebrae are less common but may occur, particularly when there is a direct impact to your head or neck. These injuries can have a wide variety of symptoms due to the potential involvement of spinal cord damage.
For any potential neck injury, your doctor will first do a basic physical examination in which he or she will measure your range of motion and ask you about the accident. It is likely that your doctor will also order x-rays or CT scans in order to confirm the exact nature of your injury, and especially when there are any suspected fractures or dislocations.
Treating Neck Injuries
Whiplash is relatively simple to treat, though it may take time to feel better. You will likely be advised to ice your neck, as well as to take painkillers and anti-inflammatories. In some cases, you may be advised to wear a neck collar, though these are not typically recommended long-term in order to keep neck muscles strong. Some physicians may also recommend massage therapy. Once your symptoms become less severe, your doctor may recommend gentle stretching to strengthen your neck and improve your range of motion.
Neck sprains are treated similarly, though doctors are more likely to prescribe a soft collar to allow your ligaments to rest. Cervical traction may also be an option for sprains. Otherwise, sprain treatment consists of the same elements as whiplash treatment.
Treatment of disc damage and fractures is more complex, as the severity and the potential involvement of the spinal cord can vary widely. More minor disc damage can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections. More severe disc damage may require surgery, particularly if there is pressure on the nerves. Fractures will require some form of immobilization, in the form of a brace for more minor fractures and including surgery and traction for more severe breaks.
No matter what your specific neck injury, you will certainly have medical expenses and will likely be unable to work for some time. As a result, you can seek compensation from the insurance company of the person at fault for the accident. Even if you were partially at fault, you can still collect compensation. Your total award amount will simply be reduced by the degree that you are determined to be at fault. For example, if you are 20% at fault for the accident, you can expect that your total award will be reduced by 20%.
Ideally, you will be able to file your claim with the at-fault’s insurance company, receive your payment, and move on. However, insurance companies do not work for you and will work to get you to accept less than you deserve. If you cannot come to an agreement with them, you will need to file a personal injury suit. In Ontario, you generally have two years from the date of the accident or from the date you learn that you have an injury caused by the accident to file this lawsuit. This time limit may seem longer than necessary, but remember that neck injuries, particularly whiplash, may take days, weeks, or even months to appear. The two years also include the time you may spend attempting to negotiate with the insurance company, which is not usually in a hurry to reach a resolution.
As part of your compensation, you are permitted to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. You will undoubtedly endure a significant amount of pain and suffering as a result of your accident, but it can be difficult to know its financial value. A Supreme Court ruling currently limits your compensation in this category to $392,000. This could change, though, if some area lawyers have their way. They state that the cap on pain and suffering is no longer relevant and should be eliminated, in part due to the existence of other city and provincial codes limiting recovery. Therefore, it is best to consult with an experienced Thunder Bay lawyer to arrive at a fair estimation of your pain and suffering, as well as to ensure that you comply with all legal caps on compensation.
Work with a Lawyer
Even if you feel certain that you will be able to come to an agreement with the insurance company, you would be wise to consult with our Preszler Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers may be able to ensure that your settlement is fair. Bringing your lawyer in early also speeds up the process of filing a personal injury suit if you are unable to reach an agreement since your lawyer will be up-to-date on the case.