At some point, everyone has experienced back pain. Perhaps it’s a twinge as you lift something heavy, or soreness in your muscles after a long day of work. Though back pain is common, there are some very serious back injuries that could get worse if they go undiagnosed. One of those injuries is a herniated disc.
Within the bones (vertebrae) of your spinal column are gelatinous sacs covered by a tough, robbery exterior. These are your spinal discs, and they do quite a lot of work. They cushion the vertebrae and absorb shocks, and allow for greater flexibility of the spine. Discs are why most folks can walk and bend without pain. If something causes that soft center to leak out of its sac, the disc is herniated.
Herniated discs can also lead to permanent disabilities if they go unnoticed for a long time. If you or a loved one have suffered a herniated disc injury from an accident, contact a Chattanooga personal injury lawyer at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law.
What are the causes of herniated discs?
A herniated disc injury happens when the discs in your vertebrae experience damage or are moved out of place. You can experience a herniated disc injury as part of the natural aging process, or when there has been direct trauma to your vertebrae. One of the most common causes are car accidents. In a car accident, the impact from the other vehicle can irritate the nerves in your vertebrae. The impact can be so powerful that you can immediately experience unusual movement in your spine.
Other causes of herniated discs include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Being hit by falling objects
- Being pinned between two objects
- Violent attacks
- Undiagnosed medical conditions
What are the symptoms of herniated discs?
One of the most common symptoms of herniated discs is lower back pain. When you have a herniated disc injury, you experience a pain in your lower back that is similar to an electric shock. You will also experience the pain on one side of your body. Another symptom is a type of pain known as sciatica. Sciatica is a type of pain that you can experience in your sciatic nerve, which is the nerve that runs down both of your legs from the lower back.
Some people may experience tingling or weakness, too. Because you have these discs throughout your entire spinal column, you may also experience these symptoms in the neck as well.
Why is a herniated disc such a dangerous injury?
The outcome of a herniated disc is one of the uncertain aspects about the injury. A herniated disc injury can lead to other injuries like vertebral fractures, pinched nerves, paralysis, or permanent nerve damage. All of these injuries are based on how soon you identify the injury and how quickly you seek medical attention for it. The longer you go without treating your herniated disc injury, the greater your chances of suffering from permanent injuries.
The additional pressure from your slipped discs causes your nerves to weaken over time. This can cause serious injuries like paralysis, permanent nerve damage (to the cauda equina – the bundle of nerve roots that runs through the spinal column), and overall muscle weakness. This can, in turn, lead to incontinence and bowel dysfunction.
These permanent injuries can make other parts of your life extremely difficult. You may have extreme difficulty lifting items and may have to work your occupation with certain accommodations. You can experience pain while doing things that were once comfortable to you, like sitting or standing for a certain amount of time. In some cases, you may even need surgery to correct the problem. This is why you should seek immediate medical care after any accident, and follow up with your doctor soon after.
Once you suffer a permanent disability from your injury, you will have to learn a new way of living. You may have to depend on additional medical services that you once didn’t need. Some of the medical treatments you may need for your injury include chiropractic services, physical therapy, wheelchairs, and in-home medical care. These medical services can easily cost you and your family substantial sums of money, all while you are unable to work.
Can I make a personal injury claim for a herniated disc?
It’s no secret that it will cost you to become adjusted to your new disability. However, one of the ways that you can seek compensation for your injuries is to file a claim or lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your injury. If you suffered a herniated disc injury after being involved in an accident, the driver may be legally responsible. If you slipped and fell on a dangerous sidewalk or by a worksite, the property owner may be liable. If your injuries were related to a defective product, the manufacturer may bear some liability, too.
Once liability is established, you can make a claim for damages such as:
- Any and all medical expenses, including trauma care, follow-up appointments, medications, therapy, assistive devices, and more
- Lost wages, including a loss of future earning potential (for you) or your caretaker’s lost wages (if said caretaker is an immediate member of your family)
- Pain and suffering both physical and emotional
- Property damage stemming for the accident or incident
Do I have to go to trial to be compensated for my injuries?
Your claim will not automatically go to trial. Most likely, your claim will end in a settlement. If you and the defendant’s insurance company can come to a mutual agreement, you can avoid going to trial altogether. One benefit of settling a case is that it usually takes less time to resolve, so you should not have to wait as long before you get your compensation. Settlements are typically confidential, as well.
There may be times, however, where your best option is a trial in front of your peers. Not only do jury trials hold negligent parties accountable to you (and publicly), but you may have a better chance at getting the award you truly deserve. Permanent injuries to the spinal column that lead to chronic pain or paralysis can affect you and your family for the rest of your life. You don’t want to be short-changed when it comes to the true cost of your injury, treatment, and recovery needs.
What if I sustained a herniated disc at work?
If your disc trauma stems from a worksite injury, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. These cover your medical expenses and (approximately) two-third of your weekly wage, but not pain and suffering. Wagner & Wagner can assist you with a workers’ compensation claim. If you are ineligible for these benefits, we can help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit instead.
When you have suffered a herniated disc injury because of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law. We offer comprehensive legal representation for all of our clients. Call us today at 423-756-7923, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN and North Georgia.