Neck Injury Due to an Auto Accident
A neck injury is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. They range from soft tissue injuries to severe nerve and spine complications.
Each year thousands of Illinois drivers are involved in car accidents that result in serious injuries. Many people experience neck pain as the result of a neck injury following a Chicago car accident.
If you were injured in a Chicago car accident due to another’s negligent or reckless driving, you should be receiving ALL of your benefits, not just the ones the insurance company wants to cover. At Willens Law Offices, we focus exclusively on representing individuals and their families who were injured by someone else’s negligence.
Neck Pain Due to a Neck Injury
The neck is made up of the top 7 vertebrae in the spine. This area is also known as the cervical spine. In the event of a car accident, this particular area is often prone to injury. There are also many muscles and nerves in the neck. When they are suddenly stretched or torn an injury can occur. When the neck is injured it causes neck pain. However, the symptoms of a neck injury may take days, weeks or months before becoming apparent.
If you have been in an auto accident, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. But keep in mind that even if a doctor tells you there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, you may still have suffered a neck injury. Insurance companies will try and get you to make a statement, in the hopes that they can settle for a smaller amount, especially before the symptoms of a serious neck injury become apparent. At no time do you need to dignify the insurance company’s inquiries by talking to them.
Some of the most common types of neck injuries include:
- Neck sprain – sprains to the neck ligaments
- Muscles strain – injury to the muscles that move the spine
- Whiplash – this can damage joints, discs, muscles and nerves
- Herniated disc – injury to the soft substance on the inside of the disc
- Neck fracture – a break in the cervical bone
- Cervical dislocation – when the neck bone pops out of its normal position
- Spinal cord injury – when a fraction or other neck injury damages the spinal cord
In addition to getting immediate medical attention, it is important to contact an experienced Chicago Car Accident Attorney. An insurance company will rarely offer someone without a reputable personal injury lawyer a full and fair settlement.
Neck Injury Symptoms
Many neck injuries present symptoms right away, while others may take days or weeks. Do not assume you do not have a serious neck injury just because there doesn’t seem to be anything initially wrong. If you have been involved in a car accident and think you have injured your neck, seek medical treatment.
While most neck injuries are different, and may have different symptoms, there are some symptoms that are common. Some of them are:
- Neck pain
- Restricted movement
- Problems with balance/equilibrium
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Inability to sleep
- Numbness in extremities
- Excessive sweating
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
Notice that many of these symptoms actually affect other parts of the body. A person may not always be able to tell that they’ve injured their neck due to adrenaline and endorphins that can mask the pain a person may experience after an accident.
Types of Neck Injuries
Neck injury is a collective term used to refer to any kind of damage to the neck area. The neck includes the cervical spine and spinal cord, nerves, intervertebral discs, blood vessels, tendons, and muscles. The neck also contains the wind pipe or the esophagus. Common causes of neck injuries include blunt trauma, sudden head movement, or compression injury that can occur because of severe backward bending of the neck or hyperextension. Neck injury is also seen in severe bending forward or hyperflexion.
Neck sprain and strain
A neck sprain is a result of tearing and stretching of ligaments, the bands of fibrous tissue in the neck that connect one bone to another. A neck strain is the stretching or tearing of a tendon or muscle, the fibrous cord of tissue connecting bones to muscles.
Spinal cord injury to neck
This type of injury occurs when the person’s cervical spinal cord gets injured. An injury to the spinal cord that severs or damages the bundle of nerves in the spinal cord can delay or even stop the delivery of messages that the brain sends to the body.
Whiplash is a common injury suffered by car accident victims. The impact of the crash can cause the victim’s head to snap back and forth, causing the muscles and ligaments in the neck to extend beyond its normal range of motion. A person who suffers whiplash may not immediately experience pain, but may start experiencing symptoms over the next few days. Common symptoms include:
- stiffness and soreness in the neck
- feeling tired
- blurry vision
Bulging Cervical Disc Injury
A car accident can cause the spinal disc in the neck to extend or bulge outside its normal position between the vertebrae. When the bulging cervical disc puts pressure on the spinal cord, it can cause an injury.
Herniated Cervical Disc Injury
When the car accident causes the spinal disc in the neck to push out of its normal position within the vertebrae into the spinal canal, the herniated cervical disc can put pressure on or compress the spinal cord leading to an injury. Herniated cervical discs are also referred to as protruding discs, slipped discs, or ruptured discs.
Herniated disc is a back injury, which is also known as a slipped disc, bulging disc, pinched nerve, or ruptured disc. A vertebral disc is a cushion that separates the vertebrae in the spine. They have a hard outer shell and a gel-like center. The purpose of the discs is to act as a shock absorber and to give flexibility to the spine. If the exterior becomes cracked and the gelatinous material from the center leaks out, the condition is known as herniated disc. Common symptoms include:
- numbness or tingling
- arm or leg pain
- weakness in the muscles served by the nerves affected by the herniated disc
Spinal Cord Damage
A car crash can cause traumatic spinal cord injuries. These injuries are characterized by damage to the ligaments, discs, vertebrae, or to the spinal cord. The vertebrae can be crushed, dislocated, or broken. In severe cases, the spinal cord can become severed. Symptoms of spinal cord damage include:
- loss of sensation
- loss of control over bladder or bowel functions
- inability to move all or part of the body below site of injury
- difficulty breathing or coughing
- pain, tingling, or numbness
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains of the neck and back are among the most common types of injuries caused by car crashes. A sprain is caused when ligaments are torn or stretched and a strain is caused when the tendons or muscles are torn or stretched. Both these conditions are painful and restrict a person’s range of motion.
Impact of Neck Injury
The effects of a neck injury on a victim depend on the severity of the injury. The effects may range from minor discomfort to extreme pain, paralysis, and even death. The most severe types of neck injuries are the ones that occur when a motorcyclist suffers damage to the spinal cord, which is normally caused by a broken neck bone or a cervical vertebrae fracture.
Diagnosis of Neck Injuries
Diagnostic imaging techniques are used to detect neck injuries. Some of the techniques include:
- EMG (Electromyography)
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- CT Scans (Computerized Tomography)
- SPECT (Single-Photon Emission Computerized Tomography)
Treatment of Neck Injuries
Treatment depends on the severity and type of injury. Cervical fractures require comprehensive treatment, which may include traction and surgery. Victims who suffer permanent injury such as nerve damage or paralysis may become permanently disabled.
Contact a Chicago Injury Lawyer
The neck injuries that result from a car accident can be serious, permanent, and life changing. Recovery may take years, and sometimes it requires that you adapt to a new way of life. While the thought of adding a legal claim to an already stressful situation can feel like too much, the personal injury attorneys at Willens Law Offices in Chicago are here to help represent your claims in court.
To discuss your neck injury, call our Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys today at (312) 957-4166 or fill out our online contact form. Initially, we will listen to you and offer you guidance. We see this initial FREE consultation not only as a way for us to get to know you, but also for you to better understand who we are and what we can do, so you can feel comfortable making the decision as to which law firm to hire.