Why Are Bulging Discs So Common After a Car Accident?
A bulging disc is a common serious injury sustained after a car accident. It may seem like normal back pain initially, but bulging discs can lead to chronic pain and disability if left untreated.
There are three areas of the body where bulging discs can occur: the neck (cervical spine), the middle of the back, and the lower back.
What Is A Bulging Disc Injury?
The most common bulging disc injury after a car accident happens in the neck when whiplash causes a disc to bulge out of the spine. The ruptured disc can be extremely painful, especially when it compresses the surrounding nerves of the damaged disc.
Bulging Discs Versus Herniated Discs
A bulging disc and a herniated disc are similar but not the same. Bulging discs only affect the outer layer of the cartilage. In contrast, herniated discs are a result of a crack in the outer layer of the cartilage, causing the inner cartilage to protrude.
Compared to bulging disc injuries, herniated discs are more painful because they tend to irritate nerve roots.
Common Bulging or Herniated Disc Symptoms
Symptoms of a bulging disc or herniated disc depend on the location of the injury and whether the disc is pinching a nerve.
Lower back: Herniated discs in the lower back can cause severe pain in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and even the feet.
Cervical spine: Herniated discs in the neck can cause sharp and burning pain in the shoulders and arms.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience the following symptoms after a car accident:
Severe pain in the neck, chest, shoulders, and arms
Whiplash, inflammation, and limited range of motion in the neck
How To Take Care of a Herniated Disc From An Auto Accident
Are you experiencing any of the symptoms listed above following an auto accident? Here’s what you should do.
Get magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.
Time is of the essence when it comes to treating herniated discs. The sooner you are diagnosed, the higher your chances of a full recovery. If you do not seek medical attention immediately, your injured disc could progress to spinal cord damage. Likely, your doctor will tell you to undergo a diagnostic test called MRI.
Get medical treatment.
Don’t try to tough it out! Herniated discs are serious car accident injuries that could cause permanent disability. Once you get a proper diagnosis, your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy, anti-inflammatory pain medication, and, in severe cases, surgical procedures.
Get medical documentation.
Do the paperwork early to avoid problems with your insurance company. From the time you are brought to the emergency room, you should keep all medical documents in order to prove that your herniated disc injury resulted from a vehicular accident.
Early treatment and medical documentation will protect you in case your insurance company refuses to pay for your medical care. Delays in herniated disc treatment and inaccurate medical documentation can make it difficult for personal injury attorneys to get a full and fair legal settlement after car accidents.
Get an auto accident lawyer.
An experienced lawyer can tell you what financial benefits you are entitled to, such as compensation for medical bills and lost wages. They will review your case and determine whether another driver’s negligence caused your spinal injuries.
Do not sign any waiver or settlement from the auto insurance company until you have talked to your lawyer.
Inform your auto insurance company.
Submit a written notice of injury when you apply for benefits as soon as possible. For example, Michigan law requires you to complete this process with your No-Fault auto insurance company within one year after the accident.
Is a Bulging Disc a Permanent Injury?
In most cases, bulging discs do not have long-term consequences besides chronic pain.
However, severe injuries that affect the nerves can lead to permanent damage if bulging discs are left untreated. Therefore, seek prompt medical attention if you feel any pain after a car crash.
Other Causes of a Herniated Disc Injury
Herniated discs can also result from wear and tear. As people age, the spinal column becomes less flexible and prone to ruptured discs.
Trauma to the lumbar spine after a fall or blow to the back can also cause a herniated disc.
Likewise, certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk of bulging discs, such as the following:
Overweight. All that extra body weight can strain the disks in your lower back.
Sedentary lifestyle. Exercise keeps those discs moving, while long hours of inactivity can increase your risk of bulging discs.
Manual labor. People with physically demanding jobs that require heavy lifting, pulling, pushing, and bending are also at risk of bulging discs.
Smoking. Discs are prone to breaking down quickly when there is a lack of oxygen, which is why smoking can contribute to bulging discs.
Frequent driving. Sitting for long hours in a vehicle where the engine constantly vibrates can add pressure to the spinal cord.
Can a Car Accident Make a Pre-Existing Condition of Bulging Discs Worse?
In many legal cases, when the plaintiff already has pre-existing herniated discs prior to a car accident and then suffers from more pain in the spinal cord due to the crash, the defendant is liable for the aggravation or reinjury of the herniated disc following the car accident.
Can You Recover Bulging Disc Compensation?
There are two primary factors that can affect how much compensation you can get from your bulging disc settlement:
the injuries you can prove that were caused by the car accident, and
your liability in causing the accident.
Medical treatment for bulging disc injuries may include pain medication and physical therapy – two long-term expenses that can quickly pile up. In addition, you may have to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills and surgical procedures for severe cases.
The average compensation payout for a herniated disc injury after a car accident is between $80,000 and $150,000. However, the settlement could be twice this amount if the bulging disc injury involves serious complications.
How Much Is My Bulging Disc Injury Worth?
If you are suing for damages for a bulging disc injury caused by a car accident, here are some factors that could affect the compensation you can receive.
The severity of your injury, if you are expected to make a full recovery, or if the injury is projected to become a chronic condition that will require a lifetime of physical therapy and pain management.
The existence of back problems before the car accident.
The need for present and future surgical procedures to treat the bulging disc injury.
The amount of pain you experienced as a result of the car accident.
The impact of the bulging disc injury on your ability to make a living.
What Evidence Do You Need To Prove a Bulging Disc Injury After a Car Accident?
Most insurance companies do not accept an MRI as sole evidence of pain and suffering from a herniated disc. This is because herniated discs can have different symptoms. Thus, two people may have identical MRIs, but one could be asymptomatic while the other could be suffering from chronic pain.
Therefore, the best way to present your case is to get a physical examination like an MRI and develop a treatment plan with your doctor and physical therapist. Then your lawyer can build your legal case to prove fault and liability while seeking compensation for damages.
Let An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Handle Your Car Accident Settlement
If you have suffered a bulging disc injury after a car accident, you can start your claim by filing an application for No-Fault benefits with the auto insurance company.
You can also sue the at-fault driver for economic damages as well as compensation for pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you prove that the other driver was at fault and that your injury constitutes a serious impairment of body function under Michigan law.
Geta free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today by calling The Clark Law Office at (517) 347-6900. We have 30 years of trial experience and have won top-dollar settlements for our clients – and we will do the same for you.