One of the more common injuries from a Detroit and Michigan car accident is low back pain and neck pain. Although this is often referred to as whiplash, an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer and law firm understands there is more to these injuries than just a simple term. Sometimes, the collision can cause major damage to the vertebrae and spine. One of the injuries that can result is called a disc herniation.
The Detroit car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm specialize in helping people who have herniated discs, disc protrusions or disc bulges from a car accident. We have obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for clients all over Michigan, including Detroit, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
Insurance companies hate paying for these injuries. They try to argue it’s arthritis or not related to the car accident. They say it’s just soft-tissue, as if tissue injuries don’t mean anything. But through medical evidence, doctor’s testimony, witness testimony, experts and the accident victims themselves, we overcome their arguments and defenses for our clients.
We do this because our clients deserve compensation, justice and peace of mind. Especially when a life changing event occurs, including a low back or neck injury that causes disc herniation.
What is A disc herniation?
The vertebrae and tissue that form the spinal column in your back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. They are made up of a tough but flexible outer ring (annulus fibrosis) and a soft, jelly like center called the nucleus pulposus.
When the outside of the disc tears, it can cause the jelly like substance to protrude and touch the nerves that are adjacent to the vertebrae near the spinal cord. When this happens, it is often called a nerve impingement. It can cause immense pain. Disc herniation can also cause numbness, tingling and severe pain in the extremities, like the arms and legs.
Disc herniation is sometimes called a disc bulge or disc protrusion. Although doctors and lawyers will sometimes argue about what these terms mean and the severity of the protrusion, from a medical standpoint the name doesn’t matter for a person experiencing low back pain or neck pain.
Who pays for my medical bills for the disc herniation?
Detroit car accident law follows a no-fault compensation system. This means the car insurance carrier for the injured person pays for the medical expenses from the car crash. This is true even if the injured person caused the accident. In most situations, the at-fault driver does not pay for the medical expenses.
Auto insurance policies in Michigan have PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. Basically, this coverage is for medical expenses related to auto accident injuries. It includes paying the doctors and hospitals who are treating your low back pain or neck injury due to the car accident that is not covered by health insurance.
If a person experiences back pain due to a car wreck, but does not have auto insurance, they can still make a claim for PIP benefits. In these situations, a car insurance for a resident relative must pay the claim. For example, if you don’t have car insurance but you live with your uncle who is insured with State Farm, then by law State Farm must pay the no-fault claim.
If there is no auto insurance in the household, in most situations an injured person can make a claim through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). This plan will then assign an insurance company – like Allstate or Farm Bureau – to pay up to $250,000 in medical benefits.
Under changes to the no-fault law, people can have limited PIP coverage or even choose to opt-out of medical PIP coverage entirely. It is not advisable to do this. Most policyholders have at least $250,000 in PIP coverage.
In situations where there is no PIP coverage available, the at-fault driver or owner must pay for the medical bills that results from a low back injury or neck injury following a car crash.
How do I know if I have a bulging disc or disc herniation from a car crash?
The best way to find out whether you have a disc herniation, protrusion or disc injury from a car accident is through an MRI. An MRI is an imaging test done by medical professionals. The MRI can see through your tissue and analyze the discs located between your vertebrae in your spinal cord.
A disc herniation will show the disc protruding and impinging upon the nerves that are adjacent to your vertebrae near the spinal cord. When this happens, a person can experience severe low back or neck pain, with numbness and tingling running through the arms or legs.
Detroit car accidents are traumatic events and create great stress on the body. The whiplash effect of getting hit can cause the discs to protrude and hit nerves along the spinal corda rea. If a person did not have prior low back or neck pain symptoms, or did not have the need for prior imaging of the back or neck, then a treating doctor can form an opinion stating that the disc herniation found on the MRI is the result of the car accident.
MRI reports will usually not mention the fact a person has been involved in a car accident. The report is simply the observations and evaluations of a radiologist reading MRI films. So just because the MRI report does not mention anything about a car accident does not mean disc damage found in an MRI report is not car accident related.
Can my disc herniation from a car accident get repaired?
It depends. Sometimes a doctor is able to fix or repair the disc herniation through conservative medical treatment. As mentioned in more detail below, just because you have a disc bulge or disc protrusion from a Michigan car accident does not mean you have to live with it.
There are different types of treatment plans available. Every person’s body is built differently. What works for one person may not work for another person. But the symptoms from a disc herniation or disc bule is not something a person has to live with for the rest of their lives.
What types of treatment are there for a disc herniation from a car accident?
There are a lot of different ways to treat a disc herniation from a car accident. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and make a decision that he or she thinks works best. The types of treatment can vary from person to person. However, most treatment plans involve or more of the following:
- Pain Medication – there are different types of pain medication and muscle relaxers that help ease the pain and suffering that contributes to sciatica and low back pain, including the numbness and tingling associated with disc herniation. Typical pain medication following a car crash can be Flexeril, Zanaflex, Mobic, Ibuprofen, Tramadol, Neurontin and Norco.
- Chiropractic Treatment – this type of treatment is completed by professionals who have undergone schooling and training in working to improve the spine to decrease pain. Examples of chiropractic treatment involve spinal manipulation, reducing nerve pain and increasing range of motion in the back.
- Physical Therapy – physical therapy can be a great way to strengthen the neck or low back area. Physical therapy can include exercises, stretching, heat and cold therapy, and ultrasound.
- Injection Therapy – Injection therapy involves the use of strong medication to help strengthen and restore the area near the disc herniation. This can include cortisone shots, epidural steroid injections, Medrol packs and nerve blocks.
- Surgery – Surgery is a last resort if the conservative treatments mentioned above don’t work. Sometimes the disc herniation is so bad that other treatment plans don’t work in decreasing the pain or discomfort. In this situation, an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon can operate to remove disc that has spilled onto the nerve roots near the spinal cord or even fuse the vertebrae together. This latter procedure is called a lumbar disc fusion or cervical disc surgery.
What is a spinal fusion surgery, such as lumbar fusion or cervical fusion operation?
A spinal fusion is a surgery where two or more vertebrae are fused together after removing the intervertebral disc between the vertebrae. This disc acts as a cushion. But when the disc is leaking and is herniated, it can hit nearby nerves created a huge amount of pain. By removing the disc or bone spurs, and then stabilized in the vertebrae, the pressure on the nerves is reduced which will decrease or remove the pain.
A spinal fusion surgery can be done in different ways. Some doctors go through an incision in the back or abdomen. For neck fusion surgeries, an incision is often made through the throat. In most cases, metal screws and rods are placed at the back of the bone to hold the vertebrae in place. An interbody fusion involves placing a metal cage or a bone graft in the area to provide stability.
Although spinal fusion surgeries are very invasive, they can be the last and best way to finally find pain relief from a lumbar disc herniation or cervical herniation.
These surgeries are usually done in a hospital or at a high end surgical out-patient hospital.
How much money does a disc herniation caused by a car accident settle for?
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. Not all herniated disc injuries are the same. Detroit car accident law firms that handle cases involving disc bulges and disc herniation understand the nuances and things judges and juries look for. Important factors to consider include:
- The severity of the injury.
- The length and type of treatment. For example, if a person went through multiple rounds of physical therapy, had epidural steroid injections and then underwent a surgery as a last resort then typically that individual’s case has a higher settlement value.
- Whether or not surgery took place
- The plaintiff – juries like giving money to people they like. They don’t give money to people they don’t like.
- The defendant – if the defendant is not likeable or is a faceless corporation, then can help increase the value of the case.
- Liability – was the other driver 100% at-fault for causing the car accident. If not, then the settlement value can decrease.
- Insurance – this is a big one. Some cases settle for less then they should simply because the amount of insurance is low. However, the higher the insurance limits, the higher the risk for the insurance carrier. This is why it is important to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm at 1-800-LEE-FREE are Michigan disc herniation experts. Our experienced team of Michigan car accident lawyers is dedicated to fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. We have been representing individuals with low back pain and neck pain from a car wreck for over 40 years. And we never stop until we get every thing you deserve.