Car accidents generate a lot of harmful force.  When a car suddenly collides with something or gets hit by another vehicle, the occupants inside get forcefully propelled in the direction of the impact.  Inside the confines of a car, this physical propulsion is usually stopped by another impact with a door, window, seat belt or airbag.  Both the sudden forward movement and the sudden stop put acute stress on the spine and neck.  These critically important areas of the body are most vulnerable in an auto accident.

The violent forward and stopping the movement of occupants in a car accident is commonly called “whiplash” and is one of the leading causes of back injuries in an auto accident. Injuries to the lower back can be extremely painful and notoriously difficult to treat and recover from. This article will focus on the possible causes of lower back pain that occurs after a car accident.

Mechanics of Pain in Lower Back After Car Accident

Motor vehicle crashes involving flatbed, semi-trucks or tractor trailers can lead to serious injury or death. According to statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, an eight percent increase from 2014.

The Federal Highway Administration reports that there were more than 260 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2014. More than eight million of these vehicles were single-unit or straight trucks, 2.5 million were tractor-trailers or semi-trucks and there were 800,000 buses on the road. That year registered vehicles traveled more than three trillion miles. Trucks were responsible for 279 billion of those miles or 9.2 percent of the total, and buses traveled 16 billion miles accounting for 0.5 percent of the total.

Why are crashes involving trucks so dangerous?

Car collisions can be terrifying, stressful events and cause both personal injury and property damage.  There are 16,000,000 car accidents (no typo there) a year in this country.  There are more than 4.5 million automobile accidents that resulted in property damage and 1.7 million crashes that resulted in personal injuries.

The sheer number of collisions, the varying results, and complex outcomes all contribute to many misconceptions about car accidents. What’s important to remember is that if you suffered an injury as the result of a car collision, you should contact a personal injury attorney.  It can be us at Miller & Zois or another attorney.  But if you have been hurt, you should be talking to someone to make sure you understand your rights and options.

Here are a few misconceptions about car accident cases and what you should do instead.

If you have a herniated disc injury, the results of your MRI will be crucial to the settlement value or trial value of your case.  The insurance adjusters and lawyers will likely spend more time debating the significance of your MRI than any other part of your case.

Why so much debate of radiological films we can all see?  The reality is that you can look at two identical MRIs.  One patient will be in extreme pain.  The other will not even know that she has a herniated disc.  This is the backdrop for the battle over the value of these claims.

Our law firm has had a lot of success in these cases.  Let’s talk about herniated disc injury cases and the significance of the MRI results to your claim.

https://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSXFHSoBC-IKXHH1YlS-S_ZN7nNmrR28zjLMhabnYcuBCOwRWWKIn car accident cases, there are typically relatively “good” settlements on ankle injury cases. For our purposes here, “good” is defined as the probability of getting a reasonable settlement offer before filing a lawsuit.

Why are ankle injury cases easier to settle than other accident claims? But the most obvious explanation is the nature ankle injuries. With neck and back injuries, which are common car accident injuries, people with the exact same radiological findings can have very different manifestations of pain. Given this, insurance companies tend to assume the lowest level of pain in these types of cases.

In contrast, ankle injuries are far less often the result of degenerative changes and are usually caused by trauma, rarely leading to concerns about preexisting injuries or arthritic changes. Just as importantly, they are typically objective injuries we can see in a radiology report. It also helps in reaching a value of an ankle injury for settlement purposes that the treatment of ankle injuries is generally not as involved as other car accident injuries which decreases the extent of the “you should not have gotten so much treatment” arguments from the insurance company.

recordedstatements

Recorded Statements Rarely Help

I’m getting another case ready for trial where I have to explain honest and consistent statements given in good faith to the insurance company that their lawyer is not trying to take completely out of context to make them stand for something very different than I originally contemplated.

The answer, as always, is don’t give a recorded statement to the at-fault carrier. This rule should be followed in 98% of the cases I have prepared where a statement was given.

In Carr v. Cinnamon, a California appellate court applied the same rule we have here in Maryland: the finder of fact can award whatever they want for noneconomic damages, including zero even when it seems preposterous that a person could suffer medical bills and have no pain and suffering.

Plaintiff’s premises liability lawsuit alleged that her leg fell through the floor of a patio on defendant’s property. The jury found the defendant partially responsible and awarded a whopping $6,207.08 with no damages for pain and suffering. Improbably, Plaintiff’s attorney appealed, arguing that the damages award was inadequate as a matter of law and the trial court should have awarded damages (additur) or awarded a new trial.

The appellate court disagreed, finding juries can essentially do whatever they want. One thing is for sure: this jury was not a big fan of this plaintiff.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a study this week, showing that three separate devices designed specifically to alert drivers when infants and children are left alone in a car do not work properly. Part of a campaign to raise awareness and prevent heatstroke, the study results say that these devices are unreliable when used on their own.

According to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, in 2012, 15 children and infants have died from hyperthermia from being left alone in a vehicle. Since 1998, almost 550 children have died, half of them under the age of two years old. These tragic deaths are unnecessary and several companies released products that are supposed to alert the driver if he or she walks away from the vehicle without extracting the child.

Three of those devices were tested by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They tested the ChildMinder Smart Clip System, the ChildMinder Smart Pad, and the Suddenly Safe Pressure Pad. The main problem they discovered was that carseats with lots of padding made it hard for the sensor to work properly.

One thing I have been trying to do with our blogs is to give our readers an opportunity to hear from other lawyers. Today, I have another guest post from Anthony Castelli, a personal injury lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can learn more about Tony’s practice here.

Tony is writing about a topic that is both near and far from my heart: jury selection. I say near to my heart because it is so incredibly important. Sadly, we probably have the most most restrictive voir dire in the country. That may change soon. But I doubt it.

Tony also has some interesting commentary about trying to use the suggestions of other lawyers and trial consultations, most notably David Ball whose work we have written about a great deal.

I read an interesting article in the European Spine Journal titled “The association between a lifetime history of a neck injury in a motor vehicle collision and future neck pain: a population-based cohort study.”

Yes, that’s a big title. But the study looked at an incredibly simple issue: are neck injuries in car accident a harbinger of neck pain later in life after the injury has resolved. So the study looked at the association between a lifetime history of neck injury from a motor vehicle collision and the development of troublesome neck pain.

The answer was what plaintiffs’ car accident lawyers were sure to tell you would be the case: patients with a history of neck injury in a traffic collision are more likely to experience future neck pain.