If you sustained a lower back injury after a car accident, read on for information on treatment and some tips for your car accident injury claim. The Bishop Law Firm represents car accident injury clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win. Call us today or start your free case review now!
This article is not offered as medical advice regarding lower back pain. If you have been injured in a car accident, please seek immediate medical attention.
Car accidents can range from a mere bump to a devastating encounter. Some types of car accidents ( car vs. 18-wheeler , car vs. pedestrian and car vs. motorcyclist) often result in catastrophic injuries to the victim.
Even what seems to be a minor car accident can result in severe injury under the wrong conditions.
Neck pain (cervical spine) and mid-back (thoracic spine) pain frequently accompanies low back (lumbar) pain after a car accident. The spinal column contains the spinal cord (central nervous system) which is protected by vertebra.
Facet joints act as hinges and link the vertebrae together. Discs between the vertebrae provide shock absorption due to their jelly doughnut type structure.
Spinal injury to any part of the spine can result in instability, severe chronic pain, radiculopathy and numbness.
Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident
Depending on the severity of the accident you were involved in you could have sustained different types of lower back injury after a car accident (from mildest to most severe):
- Bruises (soft tissue injury)– When the skin is hit hard enough damaged blood rises to the top of the skin and creates a dark blue – black mark on the skin. Eventually bruises are reabsorbed by the body and the skin discoloration goes away. Also, with bruises there is usually no chance of infection because the skin was not punctured. A soft tissue injury should be examined to rule out internal bleeding or other more serious injury. In severe cases, hematomas (clotted blood) may need to be evacuated (drained). For your personal injury case, you should take photos of your bruise as soon as possible and again as it starts to change color with dates. These pictures can help your case.
- Muscle Strain or Sprain – A muscle strain can affect the low back and leave you with sharp pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. Whiplash is a type of muscle strain/sprain. Whiplash can affect your cervical spine, thoracic spine and lumbar spine. If the strain is severe enough you can tear a muscle. Physical therapy is usually recommended for muscle strains and in certain cases, chiropractic care as well. Chiropractors can help a car accident victim with discogenic pain but the victim needs to be sure that their type of back injury will benefit from chiropractic treatment.
- Facet Joint Injuries – Facet joint injuries can result from whiplash after a car accident or from direct trauma to the spine itself. As discussed above, facet joints provide stability to the spine. Facet joint syndrome can be treated with anti-inflammatories, pain medications, massage, injections or radio frequency ablation.
- Herniated Disc – A herniated disc can be caused by traumatic events such as a car accident if pressure is put on that area. In very simple terms, your back has two kinds of shock absorbers (one is soft and one is hard) between your vertebrae. If a disc herniates the soft shock absorber pushes on the hard shock absorber until it bulges (bulging disc). The bulge irritates or compresses the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots. This can lead to lumbar radiculopathy. The radiating pain and numbness can travel from your lumbar spine to your hips, legs and toes. This can result in weakness and gait instability. If you are having symptoms in your neck, this may be due to cervical radiculopathy. An MRI or CT is needed to diagnose a herniated disc . Treatment can range from physical therapy, epidural injection, to discectomy. Please note that X-rays will not typically demonstrate these type of injuries as they only show bone. Most hospitals only offer x-rays to accident victims.
- Disk Fracture or Dislocation – A Lumbar compression fracture or dislocation can be a very serious injury. There are three types of spinal fracture patterns: flexion, extension, and rotation. Treatment for fractures are bracing, a laminectomy or stabilization with screws, rods, pins, etc. Often, these types of injuries take substantial time to heal and you will need extensive physical rehabilitation. Keeping track of your symptoms, missed time from work and every place that you have received medical treatment will help you later when it’s time to settle your personal injury case.
- Spinal Cord Injury – depending on where you injure your spine, you can have paralysis. While any lower back pain after a car accident should be examined as soon as possible, spinal cord injury should be ruled out immediately. If you continue to have symptoms of pain/weakness/numbness in your spine/legs or develop problems controlling urine or your bowels despite following your doctor’s advice, it is time to get a 2nd opinion about your spinal cord injuries.
Frequently asked questions
- How long does lower back pain last after a car accident? How long pain lasts depends on what type of injury you have sustained to your lumbar spine. Bruising and muscle strains will usually heal faster than more severe injuries. If you are having pain you should seek medical attention.
- Why does my back hurt after a car crash? Your back could hurt for many reasons. The first possibility would be that you have sustained whiplash from the car accident. When the human body is jerked back and forth during an accident that can definitely cause pain in the spine.
- What should I do if my back hurts after a car accident? You should seek medical treatment and follow all medical advice.
- How long does it take for your back to heal after a car accident? This depends on the type of injury you have sustained. The first step is to seek medical treatment and get a clear diagnosis.
- Can a fender bender cause back pain? Yes, unfortunately. The back and forth movement caused by a car accident can cause back pain.
Lower back pain after a car accident can range from mild to debilitating. Immediately after the accident, a car accident victim should seek medical treatment and continue to receive treatment as needed as well as follow all medical advice.
If the treatment that your medical team is recommending is not working for your back injuries (for example, physical therapy does not help everyone), be sure to let your medical provider know. You may need to see a pain specialist or orthopedist for your back injury.
The more severe your back injury, the more time you will need to heal. Unfortunately, even after receiving the appropriate medical care you may continue to have symptoms that affect your daily life and ability to work.
Paying for Medical Treatment For Back Pain After Car Accident
Initially our clients file claims with their own health insurance for their accident related bills. If you do not have health insurance, watch our video below for ways that you can seek medical treatment.
Depending on which state you live in and your state’s laws, you may be able to recover the cost of your medical bills from the at-fault party.
North Carolina is one of the few remaining contributory negligence states (Maryland, Alabama, Virginia and D.C.). Contributory negligence bars a victim from recovering damages if they were at fault for the accident (even 1%). If you are not at fault for the accident in NC, you can recover the cost of your medical expenses from the at-fault driver by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Most other states follow the comparative negligence standard. Comparative negligence assigns blame to all parties involved and makes those parties pay their share of the damages. For example, if the victim is 10% at fault and the at-fault party is 90% at fault, they each will pay that portion of the damages. This is a much more favorable situation for an auto accident victim.
If you were not at fault for the car crash or live in a state that has comparative negligence, you should file a claim with the at-fault party’s car insurance company. Personal Injury claims and Property Damage claims are usually handled by different adjusters.
The personal injury adjuster may want you to do a recorded statement or ask you for a list of your medical providers so they can obtain your medical records/bills. A personal injury claim can take substantial time.
If your auto insurance has medical payments coverage (Med-Pay) you may be able to recover some of your medical expense that way. Lastly, you can enter into a payment arrangement/lien with the medical provider if you do not have health insurance.
If the driver that caused the car accident does not have car insurance, your last resort is to file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage.
NC Car Accident Lawyer
Having a car accident injury attorney on your side can help you recover your current and future wage losses, medical expenses, and pain & suffering while allowing you the time to focus on recovery.
The Bishop Law Firm represents car victims of auto accidents in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, Apex, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Greenville and more! We do not get paid unless we win your case! Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095 or start online now!