Serious motor vehicle accidents are a major contributor to spinal injuries in the United States. Even in the mildest of accidents, neck injuries like whiplash are prevalent, due to the sudden hyperextension of the neck in response to the crash. The event places extreme pressure on the ligaments (the connective tissue that connects bones to bones), discs, and cervical vertebrae. In cases of severe neck injuries, a medical profession may recommend cervical (spinal) fusion surgery to stabilize the spine.
The Cervical Spine
The spinal cord is a fundamental part of the human anatomy, responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the brain. Your cervical spine consists of the very top of your spine. Specifically, the first seven vertebrae that support your head and protect the lower spine.
Common Injuries to the Cervical Spine
The bones in your cervical spine are surrounded and supported by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Injuries to the area can range from common neck pain from poor posture to degenerative disk diseases. However, car accidents generally cause the following issues:
- Whiplash – Common in rear end collisions, whiplash occurs when the head and neck jerk forward and backward rapidly and unexpectedly. This puts a tremendous strain on the cervical spine and its connecting ligaments and muscles.
- Herniated Discs – Occurs when the fibrous discs with a “jelly-like” filling slip out of their place between spinal bones. These injuries can be undetected for years or cause intense pinching of the nerves and pain to the extremities.
Symptoms of a Cervical Spinal Injury
Injuries to any part of the spine can easily cause paralysis or be fatal. For that reason, it’s imperative that you seek immediate medical attention after an accident. Some signs that your cervical spine has been injured are:
- Numbness or weakness in the upper extremities
- Muscle spasms in the arms or legs
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Loss of dexterity in the hands
- Neck or arm pain (such as a pinching feeling)
- Extreme back pain
- Feeling of a heavy pressure on the neck
Cervical Fusion Surgery
Diagnosing the specific injury to your cervical spine can be tricky, and greatly affects your individual treatment plan. In the most severe cases, a doctor may recommend cervical fusion surgery. The procedure involves permanently connecting one or more of the cervical vertebrae. The consequences of the surgery are drastic and life altering.
Procedure and Future Complications
A cervical fusion surgery is typically recommended for accident survivors who have a combination of symptoms and injuries to the neck that cause spinal instability. It is usually a last resort option for most cases because of the invasiveness of the procedure. Fusions require bone grafts from the patient’s pelvic bone or a donor as a conduit between two unstable vertebrae.
By fusing the bones, the patient will lose mobility in that specific area. For that reason, recovery and future complications can be burdensome. The patient must wait for the bones to naturally finish the healing and fusing process. Once that happens, the immobility of that area will put extra strain on the surrounding joints. Complications are expected with this type of surgery
Compensation for Cervical Spine Injuries
If you have been severely injured due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve ample compensation. Cervical Fusion Injury is a serious and lifelong battle and requires a settlement that supports you for life—not just the immediate future. Compensation for these personal injury claims fall under the following categories:
- Medical Bills: Perhaps the most common form of damages, medical expenses are frequently a large financial strain on the victim. Medical damages will cover the cost of the immediate treatment. In some cases, an experienced personal Injury attorney can obtain future expenses for continuing and lifelong treatment.
- Lost Wages: Accident victims who need time to recover from their injuries or are forced to change careers entirely can sue for lost wages. For the more extreme cases, such as long-term disability, you may be entitled to the loss of future income because of your injuries.
- Pain and Suffering: Damages that compensate victims for emotional distress. These are non-economic results of an accident that leave victims with long-lasting trauma.
- Permanent Injury: Damages that compensate the claimant for the permanent changes to his or her body and any restrictions or impairments on his or her everyday life.
- Punitive Damages: A form of compensation awarded to the victim of personal injury assessed solely to punish the defendant. These damages are uncommon, as the victim must prove the offender’s intent or willful misconduct.
Representation for Cervical Spine Injuries and Cervical Fusion Surgeries
Navigating the legal system after a crash should be the last thing on your mind. Hiring an attorney will ensure you get the best settlement possible. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Britton Law offer free consultations for personal injury cases. In preparation for a meeting with a lawyer, you should prepare to share details of the case and potential documents such as bills, medical records, and evidence relevant to your claim.
If we can help, your attorney will guide you through the process of filing a claim, reaching a settlement or in some cases, even going to trial. You can contact our lead personal injury attorney Shawn Howard by calling our office at (910) 339-6603 or submit an email request through our contact page.