Car accidents cause a range of injuries affecting various parts of the body and with varying severities. One fairly common accident-related injury is a back injury, such as a bulging disc. Even a minor injury can create pain, discomfort and financial strain, so injured drivers should be aware of their legal options if they are injured.
Bulging Discs: Causes and Prognosis
The spine comprises alternating vertebrae bones and soft, cushioning discs. These discs are sort of like a jelly donut. The outside is a hard tissue, called a capsule, and inside is the soft jelly-like tissue called the nucleus.
When a person has bulging discs, the nucleus portion of the disc is compressed and forces the outer capsule to bulge. The bulging can press against nerve roots and other nerve tissue in the spinal column, causing pain and discomfort. Usually, bulging discs in the lower back lead to back and leg pain, while injured discs in the upper back cause shoulder, neck and arm pain. The condition is common with aging and normal wear and tear on the body but can happen after severe trauma like a car accident.
Bulging discs are different from herniated discs. When a disc herniates, there's a tear in the outer capsule and the soft nucleus protrudes through the tear. The result is similar because the nucleus presses against nerves in the spinal column.
Treating a Bulging Disc Injury
Initially, doctors may prescribe a conservative treatment of rest, physical therapy and medication to manage the patient’s pain. If these treatments don't adequately manage the pain, then the doctor may suggest surgery.
A surgeon may perform a combination of spinal fusion and discectomy to treat the problem. A discectomy is a procedure where the bulging disc is removed – or a portion of it removed – and spinal fusion involves fusing the adjacent vertebrae with help from a bone graft. The procedure can result in months of recovery time.
Recovering Damages Related to a Bulging Disc
Iowa is a fault insurance state, which means that after an accident the injured driver can pursue compensation from the driver at fault for the accident. Bulging discs require medical attention and, as mentioned above, could even require surgery, resulting in substantial medical costs for many patients.
That’s not mentioning the loss of income that accident victims might experience if they are forced to miss work because of the injury and after surgery as they recover. Some might even suffer reduced earning capacity because of the injury.
These and other economic damages are recoverable in an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer or via a lawsuit if necessary. Pain and suffering damages related to the accident and injury could even be recoverable, so injured drivers should consult a knowledgeable attorney.
Establishing a Bulging Disc Claim
Drivers may have to prove that the bulging disc they suffered didn't exist before the accident, and the accident was the direct cause. Medical records, imaging tests, doctor testimony and other evidence can prove the bulging discs didn't exist before the accident. If the accident worsens an existing injury, similar evidence may establish as much as well.
Talk to your lawyer about these and other types of evidence to establish your injury, damages and fault for the accident. Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps Des Moines drivers explore legal options available to them and pursue compensation for their damages. Contact our office at (888) 435-9886 today or contact us online to set up a consultation.