When someone suffers crushed vertebrae, it means the spinal bones (vertebrae) become compressed. It may occur in the lower back as well as other parts of the spine. But it's not just a matter of the vertebrae getting crushed, they fracture. And it takes a great deal of force for that to happen.
How can a car accident lead to crushed vertebrae?
A vertebral compression fracture requires a great deal of trauma to the back for it to occur. This can happen in a serious car crash, such as a head-on collision or when a victim gets pinned inside the vehicle. Sometimes it's a result of the occupant in a passenger car getting struck by something much larger, such as a semi.
What are the symptoms of crushed vertebrae?
The most common symptom is pain in the injured area. But it can spread elsewhere if it affects the spinal cord, this may include:
- other parts of the back;
- the neck;
- stomach; and
- thighs (depending on the location of the injury).
Patients might experience tingling, weakness and numbness. In the most severe cases, an accident victim who suffers crushed vertebrae may also suffer damage the spinal cord, causing loss of feeling and paralysis.
What is the treatment for crushed vertebrae?
Treatment for a compression fracture of the spine usually starts with conservative measures such as:
- a back brace;
- ice/heat therapy; and/or
There are different types of medication that may help, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. Sometimes muscle relaxants help as well.
When there are other serious injuries or the symptoms are significant, the individual may get admitted to the hospital. Surgery is often required if the crushed vertebrae are unstable or compressing the spinal cord.
Following surgery (and sometimes without surgery), the person may undergo some type of physical therapy. The goal is to strengthen the muscles and prevent further injury.
Most of the time crushed vertebrae heals without complications. Of course, recovery takes longer when it's a severe injury. And it's possible the individual suffers long-term complications.
What damages should I seek in an accident claim?
If another party caused the accident that led to the crushed vertebrae, then Iowa law permits the accident victim to pursue a liability claim against the at-fault driver to recover damages.
The medical costs associated with the vertebral fracture may be recoverable through a car accident claim, for example. This should also include future expenses resulting from the injury, including any long-term care. If the patient suffered a spinal cord injury, damages can be especially substantial.
Medical costs are just one form of compensation an accident claim addresses. It's important to consider other financial losses, such as time missed from work. Whether it's a few weeks or longer, the at-fault driver's insurance company may have to cover lost wages and even lost earning capacity in the case of a permanent and severe injury. Oftentimes, with severe injuries, victims in a car accident can also recover damages related to their physical/emotional losses, such as pain and suffering.
Physical and emotional losses can include:
- mental anguish;
- disability; and
- reduced quality of life.
An attorney can help car accident victims review the effects of the vertebral compression fractures through medical records and other evidence. Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines at (888) 435-9886 if you require legal assistance in the Des Moines area. We'll help you file your accident claim from start to finish to help you recover fair compensation for your crushed vertebrae injuries.