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Settling a Claim with Back & Neck Injuries

Posted on September 25, 2014

Settling Neck and Back Injury Claims

Neck and back injuries are frequently the result of auto accidents, falls, or workplace accidents, and can be extremely painful, limiting bodily functions and causing significant distress. They can be soft tissue injuries—sprain and strain injuries to the muscles, tendons, and fascia—which are often caused by whiplash, especially in rear-end collisions—herniation of an intravertebral disc, or fractured vertebrae, among others. Because there are many different types of neck and back injuries, there is no simple formula for determining an appropriate value in any particular case. Not only that, the effect of a particular injury on a particular person’s overall quality life can be an individual matter. An accountant might be able to continue with his career with a neck or back injury, whereas a ballet dancer might be forced into permanent retirement.

The Elements of a Legal Action for a Neck or Back Injury

As with any legal action to recover damages for a personal injury, to prove a neck and/or back injury claim, requires four elements to be clearly demonstrated:

  1. That the person responsible for causing the injury owed a duty of care to the person who was injured—the obligation to avoid injuring someone else or placing them in of danger. Every driver owes a duty of care to other drivers on the road, and premises owners owe a duty of care to those legally on their property, for example.
  2. That the person who caused the accident breached the duty of care
  3. That the breach was the proximate cause of the accident
  4. That the claimant suffered actual damages

Especially with soft tissue injuries to the neck and back, the trickiest of these elements to prove is often the victim’s damages. Sprains, strains, or a pinched nerve causing radiating pain are nasty injuries that don’t show up on x-rays the way a fracture would. A broken bone is easier to prove and more likely to bring in a larger settlement. A very experienced personal injury lawyer, however, knows how to build a persuasive case for soft tissue injuries, and is an invaluable resource if you are suffering from this type of damage.

Type and Duration of Medical Treatment

Your settlement will not only reflect the type of tissue injured, but will also depend on the type and duration of treatment, and which type of healthcare professional delivered it. Treatment by a neurologist or and orthopedist is likely to be seen as indicative of a more serious injury than one treated primarily by a chiropractor or physical therapist. Your requiring surgery will generally increase the settlement offer the insurer is willing to make.

Damages in a Neck or Back Injury

Any injury may produce two types of damages: those that can be measured in dollar amounts, and those that cannot. Current economic damages can be proven with medical bills, receipts, and payroll records, and those same figures can be projected to determine future expenses. But damages that affect your quality of life are more difficult to place a value on. Non-economic damages are things like pain, suffering, inability to enjoy your life as before, disfigurement, disability, and even inconvenience. These damages are somewhat subjective. An experienced, dedicated personal injury attorney who is familiar with past settlements and verdicts in similar situations is likely to be able to negotiate a much larger settlement that you would be able to obtain on your own or with a less experienced general practice lawyer. And your personal injury lawyer will be able to call upon appropriate medical experts to assist with testimony whenever it becomes necessary.

Proving Liability

Proving damages becomes a moot point if you have not been able to prove that the other party is liable for your injuries. A personal injury attorney with a practice dedicated exclusively to injury cases like yours will have a team of experts on call to help make your case if there is a question of liability, for example professional traffic engineers and accident reconstructionists.

Getting Help

In Birmingham, Alabama, the Drake law firm is a top choice when you are looking for legal representation for a neck or back injury. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys have a long history of high dollar settlements and verdicts, and possess the resources to bring on board a team of experts to help prove your case. We provide clients with the individualized personal representation that makes recovering maximum compensation for neck and back injuries as stress free as possible. Call today for a free case evaluation.