In my career investigating automobile injury claims, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received calls from people who suffered a serious spinal injury and didn’t yet know it. As an adjuster, I frequently took calls from injured claimants who would casually mention halfway through a conversation that they were experiencing numbness and tingling in their hands or feet. Working for the insurance company, I was put in a difficult position: recommend that these people seek additional medical attention and possibly legal counsel; or follow my employer’s instructions, say nothing, and try to settle the claim quickly. I am glad to say that I don’t have to make that choice today.
If you were involved a car accident and are experiencing numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs, contact a skilled personal injury attorney right away to discuss your options. The insurance company’s goal is to settle your case as quickly and for as little money as possible, especially if you’re suffering from a serious spinal injury. You cannot trust them to have your best interests in mind or tell you the truth about the severity of your condition.
But beyond an attorney, your health should be the most important consideration. Making treatment decisions should be done in consultation with your doctors, but we want to share some of the things we see when representing our clients. One of the first signs of a serious spinal injury is numbness and tingling in the extremities. Many people describe a sensation of “pins and needles” in their arms or legs, often radiating into their fingers or toes. This condition is known as radiculopathy and it describes the symptoms associated with a pinched nerve along the spine. Cervical radiculopathy refers to a pinched or irritated nerve in the neck, usually caused by a bone spur or herniated disc. This is the type of serious spinal injury most commonly associated with car accidents. Pressure on the nerve where it leaves the spinal canal can cause sensations of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands. Some people also experience a sharp, burning pain, radiating from their neck down their arms. These symptoms often get worse when the neck is bent in different positions, especially during sleep.
While cervical radiculopathy can be caused by long-term degeneration or congenital bone spurs, it can also be caused by a herniated disc following a trauma (e.g. a motor vehicle accident). The impact of being hit by a car can cause the neck to hyperextend, placing tremendous pressure on the discs in the cervical spine. A spinal disc can be thought of as similar to a jelly doughnut, with a soft interior surrounded by a harder exterior. In medical terminology, the soft interior is called the nucleus pulposus and the tough exterior is called the annulus fibrosus. A herniation can occur when excessive pressure is applied to a disc, causing the annulus to tear, and allowing the nucleus pulposus to bulge or leak out the side. The herniated material can press against the spinal nerve, causing radicular symptoms. While many disc herniations and other spinal injuries do not require surgery to correct, others can be quite serious and may become progressively worse over time. Only a doctor can help you determine the proper course to take, so it’s essential to consult with your physician if you think you may have suffered a disc herniation.
One of the main reasons I love working for Norton Frickey is that we take victim advocacy seriously. We believe in being honest with our clients and making sure that they feel free to seek the medical treatment they need to get better and move on with their lives. This is especially important in situations involving serious injuries to the spine. Not only can spinal injuries be debilitating and excruciatingly painful, but they can affect you for the rest of your life. It’s important to speak with your doctor right away if you think you may have seriously injured your back. If your injury was the result of an auto accident, you should also consider finding an attorney you can trust to get you the compensation you deserve.
By: David Law