Auto collision Injury Symptoms
Words Of Wisdom

Warning signs you were REALLY injured in that car accident

Numbness and tingling after a car accident can be a sign of something very serious! Don’t miss the warning signs!

After getting whiplash, individuals often complain of discomfort in the neck followed by stiffness, tenderness, and pain while moving the neck. In most cases, the pain is stronger a few days after the accident. Individuals who suffered more serious injuries, besides the above mentioned symptoms, complain about pain radiating towards the head and shoulders,  down the arms, and sometimes even to the fingers. Pain radiation is often combined with tingling and numbness in the same areas, loss of strength in the arms and hands, etc. 1 It indicates that there has been an injury of a nerve root, a nerve itself, or that the surrounding tissues (vertebra, ligaments, spinal disc, etc.) are in direct contact with nerve root or nerve and are irritating it. Spinal nerves originate from the spine and their roots are located near the spine, so any spine injury can cause nerve root injury. The most common causes of radiculopathy symptoms after an accident are disc bulges, disc protrusion, overstretching of the nerve root or nerve, contusion of the spinal cord, etc.

Another commonly injured area in car accidents is the lower back. The mechanism of injury is the same as in a whiplash injury (a combination of sudden flexion and extension), but there are also many individuals who suffer a direct blow to the lower back. In those cases, the most commonly injured structures are the lower back muscles, ligaments, nerves, small spine joints, etc. Car accident victims usually complain about lower back pain, stiffness, and tenderness. In the case of more severe injuries, the person will have pain radiation to the buttocks or down the legs, usually in combination with tingling, numbness, loss of strength, etc.

After the accident, an ambulance usually arrives on the scene within a few minutes, and paramedics provide first aid to the individuals involved in a car accident. If the patient complains about pain radiation down the arms or legs, then the spine should be immobilized. Usually a combination of a cervical collar and a long backboard (LBB) are used for spine immobilization, with the main goal being to reduce spine and neck movements in order to lessen the chance of further damage during the transport to the hospital.

After being transported to the nearest emergency room, the patient is fully evaluated. Many people decline to be transfered to the emergency room because they believe they have sustained only minor injuries, and as a result, are fine. However, they usually return to the hospital after a few days after their pain and symptoms worsen.

In most cases, the examiner will examine the patient in the emergency room to try to find red flags which indicate a possible major nerve injury. A good examiner will look at the patient as a whole and not only focus on the injured areas. One of the best protocols for a suspected spinal cord injury is provided by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), which covers whole body examination guidelines and contains a number of tests to use to determine whether there is a spinal cord injury. The examiner should test sensory function, motor strength, and the level and the extent of injury. 2 The examination usually reveals tenderness at the injured site, painful spasm of the paraspinal muscles, and restricted range of motion. The examiner will conduct a number of tests which can detect a possible major injury. The examination is then usually followed by X-rays, which must be ordered by an ER doctor. X-rays are the most common imaging technique used after car accidents, and they are analyzed by radiologist, who tries to find possible signs of injury (broken bones, misalignment of vertebral bodies, changes of normal spinal curves, dislocation of bone, etc.). In most cases, if the X-ray doesn’t show any injury, the patient is released and allowed to go home.

X-rays are a great diagnostic tool for detecting bone injuries like fractures or dislocations. However, they can’t detect soft tissue injuries. MRIs are a lot more sensitive in detecting soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains, ligament tears, contusions, disc bulges, spinal cord injuries, nerve or nerve root injuries, etc. Any patient presenting with the symptoms of a nerve injury (such as tingling, numbness, pain radiation, loss of strength, etc.) should undergo an MRI to detect possible injury, even if their X-rays are normal. 3 

Every hospital should have a protocol in place for trauma patients. Most protocols require pathological findings on an X-ray or CT in order to necessitate a further MRI. But many protocols also require an MRI in case of neurological symptoms. 4

 If the person complains of tingling, numbness, pain radiation to the extremities, or loss of strength in the extremities, he/she should be taken seriously as these symptoms occur in radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves occur in cases where the nerve or nerve roots are compressed following an injury. 5 Any tissue located near the nerve (such as bone, cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal disc, etc.) can cause compression. One of the most common causes of a pinched nerve after an accident is a herniated disc.

Symptoms similar to a pinched nerve can be caused by spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal located inside the spine. This narrowing is usually caused by bone overgrowth. However, it can also be caused by a disc bulge after an accident. Bulged discs will compress the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause symptoms like tingling, numbness, loss of strength, pain radiation down the extremities, and in severe cases, even paralysis. 6

Stretching during the car accident exerts enough force to cause the nerve roots located in the neck or lower back to stretch, resulting in radiculopathy.

It is very important to determine the extent of injury and to locate the site of injury, as treatment methods depend mostly on the type of injury. If the person has the symptoms of a pinched nerve, he/she should visit their physician and ask for a referral to a physical therapy specialist, orthopedic surgeon, or neurologist.

If the specialist suspects that there is even that slightest chance that the patient has a nerve injury, they will most likely ask for an MRI of the injured area. MRIs are great diagnostic tools for detecting  soft tissue injuries, including nerve injuries. They can detect nerve root injuries, spinal disc herniation, ligament or muscle injuries, etc. 7

In the event that you experience numbness, tingling, pain radiation or loss of strength, it can indicate a possible nerve root injury, and you can insist on an MRI.

The MRI findings will have a significant impact on future treatment methods. In the case of no visible nerve injury or minor injury, the patient will undergo an intensive physical therapy treatment. Also, many patients undergo acupuncture or chiropractic treatment after their accidents. These treatments can last for weeks or even months, depending on the severity of injury.

Neurologists often recommend an electromyoneurography (EMNG) study, which can detect even the smallest changes in nerves after the accident. EMNG is also known as a nerve conduction velocity test, and it is used to examine nerve activity. In the event of any nerve problems, there will be changes in the conduction of impulses down the nerve, which are detectable by EMNG.

The timing of treatment plays a very important role in the management of nerve root injuries. Patients who start treatment early have a significantly higher chance of healing than patients who delay in obtaining treatment or who don’t seek or receive any treatment at all. 8

If you don’t treat your nerve injury in time, you will probably have problems related to it (periodic or constant numbness, tingling, etc.) for the rest of your life .

In conclusion, many people suffer major nerve injuries but don’t seek medical attention because they think their symptoms are not that serious. Some of the most common symptoms they may experience are tingling and numbness in their extremities, which occur often after a car accident and can indicate a serious injury. So, if you were involved in a car accident and suffer from numbness or tingling, it is best to visit your doctor for a thorough examination. 

References:

1.            Ioppolo, F. and Rizzo, R. (2014). Epidemiology of Whiplash-Associated Disorders. Whiplash Injuries, pp.13-16.

2.            “Spinal Cord Injuries Clinical Presentation: History And Physical Examination.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.

3.            Radiologic Evaluation of Chronic Neck Pain, Richard H. Daffner,  Am Fam Physician. 2010 Oct 15;82(8):959-964.)

4.            “MRI In Acute Spinal Trauma.” Appliedradiology.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.  So, if you have loss of strength, tingling or numbness you should insist on MRI.

5.            Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve), Ian Rodway,  June 2015, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons).  

6.            “Spinal Cord Injuries Clinical Presentation: History And Physical Examination.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 6 June 2018.

7.            Imaging after trauma to the neck, Bernard Wee, John H Reynolds, and Anthony Bleetman, BMJ. 2008 Jan 19; 336(7636): 154–157.doi: 10.1136/bmj.39433.663715.BE

8.            Caridi, John M., Matthias Pumberger, and Alexander P. Hughes. “Cervical Radiculopathy: A Review.” HSS Journal 7.3 (2011): 265-272. Web. 6 June 2018.

Uncategorized

From Collision To Consultation

Initial Crash

One oft-repeated phrase is, “it’s better read about than experienced for yourself.” Few maxims can better encapsulate what it’s like to be a victim of a car collision.

Like any paradigm shift in someone’s life, it’s often dramatic and sudden. The screeching of wheels, the scream of the unexpected, or the shot of unfamiliar adrenaline.

All such tragic events mark the beginning of a typical personal injury case. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss a common car accident. This piece explores how a victim of circumstance can take control of their situation, and turn their misfortune into an opportunity to better their case and their chances of reasonable compensation.

Self-Assessment

After the initial shock and twisted metal, victims at the scene may be dazed and confused. Regardless of where you are on the road, examine yourself and passengers for injuries. If there are no visible injuries, do the obvious thing and move your vehicle to a safe location if you are blocking the road.

If anyone is injured, get medical help as soon as possible. Truth be told, calling 911 has the added benefit of documenting the incident for later insurance evaluation purposes. This is because the documentation generated from the call tends to indicate a propensity of a person being truly injured. While it may come across as callused, car accident cases – and other cases involving personal injury – are all about documentation.

Insurance claims representatives will even go so far as to reduce the value of a claim on not going to the emergency room, even if there are later objective findings indicating that an injury occurred. Injuries, such as cervical strain and sprain, tend to appear more than one to two days later after the “shot of adrenaline” wears off. However, it’s the documentation early on that is important.

Interaction With Law Enforcement

If police were summoned by a party contacting 911, documentation will again be generated. It is common that police, in addition to checking for injuries, may cite the at-fault driver for either a crime or a traffic infraction.

Keep in mind that a criminal case is the government (or, in Virginia, the “Commonwealth”) versus the defendant. A criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about “being made whole again.”  Until a magic wand is invented, that means the “bad guy” paying some form of compensation.

Before law enforcement makes a general “first look” at liability, they will gather evidence – including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as obtaining contact information. This information is crucial for a Virginia auto injury or car accident attorney to later help prepare a case.

Keep in mind that the initial police investigation is entirely separate from the civil process, which may, in turn, rely on documentation generated as a result of the crash investigation. Even should an officer believe that a person is at-fault in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company may come to an independent conclusion.

One final point is that calling for help may be legally required in some circumstances. In Virginia, assume that it is required if there is someone that is injured or visible property damage to the vehicles.

Document The Facts For Later

Feel free to be your own detective if you have not yet met with a personal injury lawyer.

Ask for the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, and insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the collision, ask for the same. Take pictures with your cell phone of the accident scene and the driver’s license, if provided.

It is perfectly normal and expected for you to provide your insurance information to the other driver, even if they were at-fault. We highly recommend to clients not to make statements to the other driver’s insurance company. They’re frequently very motivated to assign blame to someone other than their own insured.

Don’t be limited in pictures of property damage of the vehicles. If it’s safe and prudent to do so, take copious amounts of pictures of you and your passenger’s injuries. This includes bruising that may later develop.

By being your own detective, the insurance company for the other driver may not be so quick to turn a blind eye to the blame of their insured. Documenting (if safe and not obstructive) while still at the scene to show the location of the impact, road conditions, and the condition of the vehicles may be critical bits of evidence later that a personal injury attorney can later utilize.

A good law firm will use this evidence to help develop your case into the best it can be under the facts. If you don’t have any of this evidence don’t worry. In most cases a client doesn’t provide this information during initial intake. That said, the more information provided the better.

Seek Medical Treatment

In line with the need to call 911, if necessary, is the simple fact that you need to seek medical treatment if you are hurt in the collision or later develop conditions that didn’t exist the day of the accident.

It is critical that you go to every appointment scheduled with a health provider and do everything that they tell you to do. Top in the playbook of every insurance company is to highlight any and all delays or gaps in treatment and try to use that information to diminish the value of your claim.

This is even true if you don’t have health insurance at the time of the collision. It is highly important that if you don’t have health insurance that you waste no time in getting it. In addition to being legally required at the time of this writing, health insurance may cover tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in treatments.

Even if you have the most amazing case, not having health insurance means that the proceeds of any later settlement or trial goes to pay the providers when it could have gone to your pain and suffering that you had to endure as a result of the injuries.

As a slight caveat, under some circumstances the insurance company for the other driver may reduce any settlement offer by the amount paid by insurance. However, this depends on the state and an entirely different analysis. You’ll need to consult with a car accident lawyer in your state to determine if this applies.

Avoid Waiting Until The Last Minute To Seek Necessary Medical Treatment Or Blowing Off Your Appointments If They Are Recommended By A Treating Healthcare Professional

Whether it’s the day after the accident and you were discharged from the Emergency Room or it’s month three of physical therapy or chiropractic care, you need to keep your appointments. We cannot stress this enough.

Car insurance companies for the other driver will even go so far as to unjustly say that you’re faking your injuries. They may resort to this accusation if you stop going to your appointments or blow off treatment all-together before it has run it’s course. Frequently, soft tissue injuries can “flare up” if maintenance treatments do not continue until their natural conclusion.

Once upon a time, it was a socially-acceptable attribute for people to be “tough” and “suck it up” despite pain. That doesn’t appear to be a common thread in today’s negotiations with insurance companies, especially when it comes to auto-injury cases. If you feel a certain way, pursue treatment. We recommend to clients to keep a daily pain and inconvenience journal, so we can see how they are progressing in their treatment.

Lawsuit Time: “Let’s Get It On!”

While this article was limited to what a victim of car accident can do to improve their case prior to their first legal consultation, I would be remiss if I did not include one final bit of information: choose an attorney that isn’t afraid of going to trial. If you don’t get the settlement offer that you are looking for (and is reasonable given prior settlements or verdicts), a knowledgeable Virginia car accident attorney would have no qualms about filing a lawsuit and making a request for appropriate damages to the judge or jury.

If, after negotiation with the insurance company and discussion with my client, we don’t get a settlement offer that is reasonable, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.

Occasionally, it may be advisable to cut the claims representatives out all together and file the lawsuit against the person that hurt you.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t place the right value on your case, a jury of your peers may see that you internalized your pain, choosing not to be a burden on your family and friends, and assess damages a more reasonable way.

Words Of Wisdom

8 Shady Insurance Tactics

Many folks like you, when thinking of the car accident settlement process, feel that insurance company employees are simply going to fairly measure your injuries, then pay you what is “owed.”  

However, it’s not that simple.  Insurance companies make a profit by maximizing the amount of money people pay in premiums and reducing the amount paid out in claims to injured people like you.  It’s their business model and people, like you, can be taken advantage of if they’re unaware.

DID YOU KNOW: It has even been disclosed that the adjusters can get paid BONUSES in reducing payouts!

We are frequently seeing cases in which people are taken advantage of.  That said, we want to share with you 8 Shady Tactics they use to reduce paying you what you are owed.

1: They’re looking at your life!

Particularly in cases where we have a client that is severely injured, insurance claims representatives will delve into social media accounts.  They’ll even have you followed and videoed in public.  They may take a few moments of walking to your door without a cane or other assistive device (if a medical professional recommends one) and try to claim you were fine the entire time!

That’s why when we litigate cases we frequently demand any and all surveillance of clients.  During the civil discovery process they usually have to “give up the goods” on what they have on clients. Usually? It’s nothing. 

2. They’ll put up roadblocks

They don’t want you to separate the forest from the trees.

Insurance companies relish in delaying your claim.  They’ll make you get overly-involved in paperwork.  They’ll place all kinds of hoops for you to jump through.  They’ll confuse you and mix in property and personal injury policy limits.  They want to “run that clock” because guess what?  They know that if you play the game long enough you may miss the statute of limitations and you’ll lose your claim forever.

One frequently tactic they use is to only evaluate your claim based on your present injuries.  If you sign that settlement form, you may be “donezo” if you ever develop further pain and discomfort from the original injury.  That’s why it’s important to engage an attorney early.

3. Spying on your Facebook

Always be very cautious what you say on social media because they will misconstrue that, if possible, just like they will on recorded phone calls.

TIP FROM US: Hire an attorney before any discussions with the other person’s insurance company.

4. Inserting tricky clauses into routine documents

We come across this regularly.  If you don’t have an attorney representing you – and even if you do – they will frequently try to get ALL of your medical records, even if it’s not related to the accident.  In those release documents, if you examine the fine-print, you’re agreeing for them to look even YEARS back!  For unrelated things!

They do this because they may want to pin your ailment on a pre-existing condition.  Sometimes they’ll go to great lengths to draw that connection, even if it’s not entirely supported by medical science.

5: Asking Incomplete Questions / Trying to Frame You In The Wrong Light

These insurance adjusters want to blame you whenever they can for the accident.  We urge clients to contact us immediately, rather than playing “their game.”

One of the insurance adjuster “tools of the trade” is to ask incomplete questions to people that don’t have attorneys on recorded phone calls.

We had one case where a bush partially obstructed a client’s view. The client, out of an abundance of caution, pulled into the roadway for a full 30 seconds so any other cars could see him before he pulled out.  After the accident, the other driver’s insurance company denied the claim (initially) by asking on a prerecorded call if the client was to blame for pulling out into a roadway.  The client didn’t see the trickery and said, “Yes!”  However, only when the full facts came out was it clear THEIR DRIVER was at fault.  If a car is in the road for a full 30 seconds, the law recognizes it was the fault of the other driver for being negligent.

That’s but one example out of many.  In summation, don’t play the games of the insurance companies!

6: They blame Colossus.

Most insurance companies use a complex computer program called “Colossus” to evaluate a claim, using various metrics.  Not only are the metrics suspect and not properly assess certain accident-related conditions, but we know many of the limitations of this program.  

The insurance adjuster will usually just blame the computer program for the low settlement number.  Don’t be taken advantage of in this process.

7: Colossus uses a Plaintiff attorney’s “batting average.”

This program, depending on the version, may look at your attorney’s “batting average.”  By that, it looks to whether your attorney is willing to sue if the number is too low.  We take pride in fighting for our clients who wish to pursue this route and are unafraid of taking a case to trial.  We want the maximum amount of recovery for our clients so they can be made whole again.

8: “Do you really need a lawyer?” -Their Insurance Company

Keep in mind what we said before: they want to avoid or reduce payouts.  Lawyers, that know what they are doing, hold the insurance companies accountable.  You need someone that knows the rules of the road to maximize compensation.

Correll Law Firm, PLC (www.correllfirm.com) has experience confronting the insurance companies and fighting for financial recovery of our clients.  If you have been injured in a car accident or the negligence of someone in other ways, call us at (540) 535-2005 for a free case evaluation.

The insurance companies know how to reduce your claim value.  Do you know how to obtain the maximum amount you’re entitled to?