Philadelphia traffic accidents cause thousands of injuries each year and are the leading annual cause of spinal injuries. The possible need for long-term care, among other things, can complicate the determination of damages for injuries. Effectively dealing with spinal injury issues can require professional assistance.
If you suffered a spinal injury in a Philadelphia area traffic accident, seek an attorney to protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.
Car Accidents Cause Many Back Injuries
Car crashes are the leading cause of spinal injuries, ahead of falls, gunshot wounds and other acts of violence, and sports accidents. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, traffic accidents cause 38 percent of all spinal injuries based on data collected from 2010 to 2015. The UAB researchers estimated that as of 2015, 125,000 spinal cord injuries take place each year, and between 240,000 and 337,000 persons currently live with spinal cord injuries in the United States.
An Asian Journal of Neurosurgery study found a high probability of automobile accidents causing serious spinal injuries. The researchers did not determine whether this was due to car manufacturing standards, inadequate safety measures in cars, poorly designed roads, or poor driving, among other possible causes. The study also shows that, while spinal injuries constitute a small fraction of automobile accident injuries overall, spinal cord injuries are in general more severe than many other types of injuries, with the potential to disable people permanently, damaging their financial situations and the quality of their lives.
Car Accidents Often Cause Serious Neck and Back Injuries
Upper spine or neck injuries are frequently result from automobile accidents, especially rear-end collisions. Because the central and lower spine are better protected by the seat and seat-belts, the upper spine is more vulnerable. Symptoms in the upper part of your body, such as your shoulders, arms, and hands, potentially signal a cervical injury, including a disc herniation. However, the most common herniated discs take place in the lumbar spine, or lower back, and generally damages the control and comfort of your lower body, including your legs.
Though traumatic events, such as falls or blows to the back, can cause herniated discs, they generally result from gradual deterioration due to repetitive spine stress. Automobile accidents cause fewer cases of herniated discs, but a traffic accident can herniate an already degenerating disc.
The three types of spinal injuries, defined by the location on the spine of the injury, include:
- Cervical. This portion of your spine involves the first seven vertebrae at the top of your spine near and including your neck.
- Thoracic. Below the cervical spine is the thoracic spine, which includes the next 12 vertebrae.
- Lumbar. At the bottom of your back is the lumbar spine, consisting of the final five vertebrae.
The human spine is a complicated structure consisting of bones, nerves, and muscles. Virtually all human movement is linked to the spine, and a back injury can result in long-term and potentially devastating consequences for essentially all daily life activities. As statistics show, spinal injuries are most commonly caused by automobile accidents.
Many Spinal Injuries Can Arise From Traffic Accidents
Discs are the soft cushions between vertebrae in the spine. They prevent bone-on-bone friction and make the spine flexible. A herniated disc can’t perform these functions properly, frequently resulting in back pain, numbness, and tingling in extremities. These symptoms can worsen with time.
Injuries higher on the spine control a greater portion of the body. Middle and lower spine injuries, at their worst, usually damage the control or comfort of the legs, possibly resulting in paraplegia, or lower body paralysis. An injury higher in the spine, such as the upper back of neck, is more likely to also paralyze the arms as well, resulting in quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs.
Car accidents may also cause compression fractures—small cracks in the spine’s vertebrae. With time, these cracks can cause the vertebrae to collapse, resulting in pain, changes in posture, and even breathing difficulties. They are more common in older people because of their weaker bones. Doctors may misdiagnose compression fractures as simply signs of aging—an estimated two-thirds of compression fractures go undiagnosed.
Even low-speed accidents can result in whiplash, which can lead to significant long-term injuries. While manufacturers design cars to suffer little or no damage at impacts of less than 10 miles per hour, the back and forth jerking from such impacts can still damage the human spine. Soft tissues in the neck and back are particularly susceptible to such violent jerking motions. Such impacts can strain, stretch, and even tear muscles, nerves, and connecting tissues. While most recover within weeks or months, some suffer longer-term and even permanent injuries.
All of these injuries can inflict significant long-term medical costs. Ensuring full compensation for such costs requires professional advice and assistance.
If You Suffered a Spinal Injury in a Philadelphia Area Traffic Accident, Contact the Levin Firm
If a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area caused your spinal injury, protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.