Cervical Spine Injury Settlement Amounts
There are approximately 870,000 neck injuries stemming from automobile accidents in the United States every year. These are serious injuries that often warrant regular and extensive treatment and rehabilitation, which can amass tens of thousands of medical costs.
If you or a loved one are among these, you may be wondering about cervical spine injury settlement amounts and whether you are entitled to compensation. The answer to these questions is complex, as they depend on the circumstances surrounding the car crash.
Once you understand how various factors impact your case, you will know how best to proceed. Keep reading to find out more.
About Cervical Spine Injuries
The human spine, or backbone, is a very delicate yet complex part of the body. It contains dozens of vertebrae, disks, and facet joints, held together by ligaments.
The spine is interwoven with nerve bundles, and it envelops the spinal cord. These send electrical nerve impulses throughout the body, including to the muscles, brain, and other organs.
The spine has five main sections. These include the tailbone and the sacrum, which connect to the hips. There is the lower and middle back, topped by the cervical spine or neck.
The cervical spine comprises seven vertebrae separated by discs, which allow the spine to move freely. They also act as shock absorbers during movement.
Cervical Spine Damage and Effects
The cervical spine can experience damage from a variety of threats, including minor strains and sprains. Different diseases can affect the bones or nerves of the spine, as can external impacts, such as those experienced in a car accident.
Given the centrality of the spine to the function of the body, it is easy to see how damage to the bones, ligaments, nerves, or spinal cord can be very serious. A spinal injury can result in partial or full paralysis in different parts of the body.
Beyond mobility issues, a spine injury can impact the functions of organs throughout the body. This can cause heart problems, respiratory issues, or bladder and bowel dysfunction.
Other Forms of Spinal Injuries
A car accident can damage the sensitive parts of your cervical spine. For instance, compression fractures are when there are breaks in the vertebrae. They can result from impact or when the head is violently thrown forward or sideways during an abrupt crash.
One of the most common cervical spine injuries resulting from a car crash is whiplash. This is a sprain in the neck’s ligaments caused by a sudden jerking motion. It pulls the ligaments back and forth which can either stretch or tear them.
Herniated discs are when the soft center of the disc leaks out into the spinal column. This can result in serious pain to the damaged area or other parts of the body. A common symptom is a burning or tingling sensation.
Lawsuits in a Personal Injury Case
Cervical spine injuries can be life-altering. Treatment and rehabilitation are often extensive and may last the rest of the person’s life, affecting livelihood and financial standing. Injuries can render the victim unable to work, resulting in lost wages and potential mental trauma.
The injured party (the plaintiff) can sue the individual or company (the defendant) that has caused the harm. They seek compensation (called “damages”) for financial or other burdens the injury has caused. These can include medical and treatment (such as physical therapy) costs, loss of wages and earning potential, and “pain and suffering.”
The purpose of filing a lawsuit is to recoup financial losses, as well as compensate victims for the negative experiences they have had to suffer through.
Types of Damages in a Lawsuit
Compensation for the direct impact that injury caused, such as those listed above, are “compensatory” damages. These include specific financial impacts, such as hospital bills or lost income. They also include less tangible impacts, such as “pain and suffering.”
In the event of a traffic death, a “wrongful death” suit may be brought. Besides other damages, the family of the deceased might seek compensation for funeral costs or loss of companionship.
Plaintiffs also can seek “punitive” damages, which are meant to punish the individual or company that caused the harm. These are often reserved for scenarios when the defendant engaged in willful or reckless misconduct. For instance, if a car company knew of a vehicle defect but failed to do a recall, and this resulted in a car crash, a judge might punish the company for acting in such a negligent manner.
A settlement occurs in one of two scenarios. If the case goes to trial and the judge rules in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant will be forced to set up a settlement. Settlements also can happen before trial, if the two parties agree on the amount of damages.
Average Settlement Amounts Vary
Cervical spine injury settlement amounts vary greatly from case to case. This is because they are based on unique sets of circumstances. Therefore, not all cases will carry the same value or have the same outcome.
The severity of the injury is one differentiating factor. Compensation for an injury that has already healed will be less than one that is permanent. Settlements for injuries that need reconstructive surgery, ongoing treatment, or home care will likely be larger than ones where medical attention has been completed.
Note that each state has a limited duration in which an individual can file a personal injury claim, known as a “statute of limitations.” These are usually between two and six years but vary among locations.
Cervical spine symptoms can be immediate or delayed. They can take weeks or sometimes months to appear. That is why it is important to get a medical evaluation following a crash, even if you are not experiencing severe pain.
Professional Legal Representation
The most important thing you can do is find a reputable attorney that can help you calculate the damages you should seek. This may require having documentation demonstrating medical costs or obtaining police reports.
Remember that a big part of this is not what you and your attorney believe you are owed, but what you can prove in a court of law, which requires extensive preparation. An experienced, knowledgeable attorney be able to assess the strength of your case as it relates to the evidence.
Learn More About Cervical Spine Injury Settlement Amounts
Now that you understand the basics of cervical spine injury settlement amounts, you can determine how best to proceed with your case. Remember that finding an experienced lawyer is a reliable way to determine what settlement you should receive and improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Alpha Accident Lawyers won’t let car insurance companies take advantage, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today for a free consultation about your cervical spine or another auto-related injury.