Legal Services > Motor Vehicle Accident
Understanding the Seriousness of Motor Vehicle
What Every Accident Victim Should Know
Injuries from motor vehicle accidents can and often times
lead to slowly developing and potentially debilitating injuries.
Such injuries can be symptomatic for several months, however,
they may be symptomatic for many years, or may even become
permanent. Also, often times motor vehicle accident victims
are not properly diagnosed, and as a result, they receive
inappropriate medical care for their injuries. It is for this
reason that we recommend our clients to have an immediate
and thorough evaluation by a competent medical provider.
Insurance Companies Push for Quick Settlements
- Which is for Their Benefit Only
Every insurance company knows about such injuries, and they
also know that you sometimes don't feel seriously injured
right away. That is why they attempt to contact you directly
for a quick and permanent settlement, which can often times
be disastrous. Remember, insurance companies are responsible
to their shareholders and, like any other major business,
their main goal is increased profits. For example, if medical
problems or medical bills arise after final settlement is
made by the defendant's insurance company, the defendant's
insurance carrier is not responsible to pay them.
Pain Medication Only Can be Disastrous to
an Accident Victim's Recovery
Most accident victims are treated immediately in the emergency
room. However, emergency room physicians are only trained
to diagnose serious or life threatening injuries, such as
broken bones, damaged organs, internal bleeding, etc. Once
such injuries are treated and there is no immediate threat
to the victim' s life or well-being, the victim is then usually
prescribed pain medication and advised to follow-up with their
physician. Pain medication does not cure medical problems;
it alleviates the pain symptoms. Soft tissues, such as muscles,
ligaments, discs, and nerves, need oxygen to function and
move properly. When you take pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory
medication without proper additional medical treatment, scar
tissue can develop, often leading to permanent, limited motion.
Limited motion can have a devastating effect on a victim's
nerves and blood flow. Scar tissue can turn into its own source
of pain, causing chronic and permanent discomfort, as well
as other symptoms.
Using pain medication without medical treatment, such as
physical therapy, can actually make a victim's situation worse.
The victim's body is feeling better due to the artificial
decrease in symptoms through the medication, and they may
be aggravating their injury by misusing the injured and affected
Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms
Soft tissue injuries usually lead to one or more of the following
symptoms: muscle stiffness, spasms, neck pain, headaches,
numbness and tingling, mid-back pain, low-back pain, difficulty
sleeping, irritability, memory loss, fatigue, and difficulty
Spinal Disc Injuries - Symptoms Can Take
Months to Develop
Spinal disc injuries do not often lead to serious symptoms
immediately, but can develop over a period of time to severe
and permanently disabling injuries. In fact, people can go
about their daily lives with disc herniations and experience
limited pain or other symptoms for many months. However, as
discs narrow and dry-out, vertebrae come closer together.
That is one reason why older people decrease in height. Unhealthy
discs may also cause boney outgrowths to form, narrowing the
openings in the vertebrae where the nerve roots pass. The
result is often a painful arthritic condition that can cause
Picture A Jelly Donut
Pressure on injured discs can cause outer ligaments to stretch
and the nucleus to bulge. Continued pressure can lead to a
torn, ruptured or herniated disc. Tears on the outer casing
allow the contents of the discs to squeeze out. The simple
way to understand this is to imagine a jelly donut. The outside
is soft and the inside of the donut is filled with jelly.
Vertebral discs in your spinal cord also have a soft outside
and a gelatinous material in the center. Motor vehicle accidents
can lead to torn, ruptured or herniated discs as discussed
above. Picture the jelly leaking out of a tear in the donut.
The vertebral disc itself or the escaped material from inside
the disc can press against a nerve, causing severe pain, nerve
irritation, numbness and tingling in a victim's arms or legs
and/or a painful inflammatory reaction.
When discs bulge or rupture, they lose their ability to cushion
and absorb shock. The rest of your spinal cord can weaken,
which may lead to stiffness and pain. Also, it is important
to note that discs do not have their own blood supply. They
depend upon proper movement of the spine to transport the
nutrients and lubrication needed for healthy joint movement.
What You Need to Do After an Accident
If you have been in an automobile accident, immediately
seek treatment in the emergency room, and follow-up with a
competent orthopaedic physician. The orthopaedist will review
your symptoms and make suggestions as to treatment, most times
with a prescription for physical therapy. If you feel prolonged
symptoms of back and neck pain (over 60-90 days), you should
speak with your physician about an MRI or CT-Scan, as these
tests are the best way to diagnose a herniated disc.
he Most Common Injury Sustained by Automobile
Accident Victims: Whiplash
The most common injury sustained by victims of motor vehicle
accidents is whiplash. Whiplash is most commonly sustained
by riding in a motor vehicle that is either struck from behind
or collides with another object. When the head is suddenly
jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits, the muscles
and ligaments supporting the spine and head can be overstretched
or torn. The discs can bulge, tear or herniate. Vertebrae
can be forced out of their normal position, reducing range
of motion. The spinal cord and nerve roots in the neck can
get stretched and irritated. The occupants of the vehicle
can suffer considerable soft tissue injury, the car may be
only slightly damaged.
The resulting instability of the spine and soft tissues can
result in headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, pain in the
shoulder, arms, and hands, reduced ability to turn and bend
and even low back problems. As the body attempts to adapt,
serious symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months later.
My Job as Your Attorney
I trust that this information is helpful
and provides you with a better understanding of the potential
serious problems motor vehicle accident victims may encounter.
My point is for you to take your treatment seriously; have
an open discussion with your physician; and, be sure to
tell your physician all of the symptoms and problems you
are or have been experiencing. As your attorney, I cannot
make you better; that is your physician's job. The only
way your physician can attempt to make you better is if
you provide him or her with every detail of your complaints
or problems. A full, complete and accurate diagnosis with
the proper treatment is your number one goal. As your attorney,
I can take this information and translate it into full and
complete compensation for your injuries.
James D. Famiglio, Esquire
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