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Neck and Back Injury Claims in Tennessee

Tennessee neck and back injuries

Find out when you can receive compensation for your catastrophic injury

Your neck or back injury might give you the right to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Find out what you need to prove and what damages you can recover in the Volunteer State.
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Your spine is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles that work together to provide strength and support to the rest of your body. As a result, neck and back injuries tend to impact day-to-day functioning more than other types of injuries.

Researchers have linked neck and back injuries to loss of mobility, loss of production, depression, and even weight gain.

If you suffer a neck or back injury while working or because of someone else’s actions, you may be able to receive compensation to help minimize the financial impact of your injury.

Common neck and back injuries

Neck and back injuries are often minor (such as a “crick” in the neck) that resolve quickly after a brief period of rest. But some neck and back injuries may require treatment, such as:

  • Sprains or strains
  • Stingers or burners
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fractured disc or vertebrae

When should I see a doctor for my neck or back pain?

The Mayo Clinic encourages you to see a doctor when your pain:

  • Persists pasts a few weeks
  • Is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
  • Spreads down 1 or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in your limbs
  • Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
  • Is accompanied by a headache

What’s more, you should seek immediate care if the pain:

  • Causes new bowel or bladder problems
  • Is accompanied by a fever
  • Follows a fall, blow to your back, or other serious trauma

Common causes of neck and back injuries

Almost every adult experiences neck or back pain at some point. This is part of getting older. Often, the pain is the result of strenuous activity or some medical condition (such as arthritis or osteoporosis).

But sometimes, neck and back injuries are caused by the trauma of an accident or intentional act. Common examples include:

Real Life Example: Kelly Drake and her fiance Armani Alicea were rafting down the Ocoee River in Tennessee when the raft struck a rock, causing the T-handle of Armani’s oar to hit him in the neck and rupture his carotid artery. Armani was life-flighted to Erlanger Trauma Center in Chattanooga.

When can you sue for a neck or back injury in Tennessee?

If your injury is the result of someone else’s negligence or intentional act, you might be able to recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit in Tennessee.

Personal injury lawsuits based on negligence

In Tennessee, you must prove 3 elements to establish negligence:

  1. The other person or entity owed you a duty of care (in most cases, other people owe you the duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing you harm),
  2. The other person or entity breached that duty (in most cases, this means the other person failed to behave as a reasonable person would under the circumstances), and
  3. You were injured or incurred damages as a result of the other person or entity’s breach.

Let’s take a look at a common example of negligence—distracted driving:

Erin was driving from the Pancake Pantry to her class at Vanderbilt University. On the way, she stopped at a crosswalk to let a pedestrian cross Medical Center Drive.

Jason, driving behind Erin, did not see Erin stop because he was texting. He rear-ended Erin’s vehicle.

As a result of the collision, Erin suffered a severe case of whiplash. Erin sued Jason for damages.


In Tennessee, all drivers owe all others on the road a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing harm. Jason breached this duty by texting and driving. What’s more, it was this breach that caused Erin’s injuries. As a result, Jason is negligent.

Personal injury lawsuits based on intentional acts

If someone intentionally causes your neck or back injury (for example, by committing battery or assault), you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them in civil court for your damages.

Keep in mind that when someone intentionally causes an injury, the person is often charged criminally. Nevertheless, to recover damages, you’ll need to file a civil lawsuit against the person regardless of any criminal proceedings.

What if my neck or back injury occurs at work?

If you suffered a neck or back injury as a result of a workplace accident, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays financial benefits to employees who are injured while performing a work task.

Most neck and back injuries are covered so long as the injury occurred during the “course and scope” of employment. What’s more, unlike personal injury lawsuits, you don’t need to prove that anyone was at fault for your injury.

Enjuris tip: Most people think compensable workplace accidents only include sudden accidents, like falling from a ladder. But workers’ compensation may cover repetitive motion injuries that result from performing the same task for a long period of time, such as repetitively bending cardboard so it feeds into a machine.

What damages can I recover for a neck or back injury in Tennessee?

Neck and back injuries can be financially crippling.

At the very least, you’ll most likely incur the cost of seeing your primary care physician. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also incur the cost of ambulatory services, medical specialists, surgical procedures, prescription medication, and rehabilitation.

What’s more, your injury may cause you to lose wages and miss out on the activities you normally enjoy doing.

Fortunately, you can recover damages for your economic losses (monetary losses) and non-economic losses (non-monetary losses) in Tennessee. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s included in each of these categories:

Economic damages Non-economic damages
  • Medical expenses (surgery, physical therapy, hospital visits, etc.)
  • Lost income (if you’re forced to miss work as a result of your injury)
  • Property damage

You may also be able to receive up to $500,000 in punitive damages if the person who caused your injury acted maliciously (intentionally) or recklessly (with gross negligence).

Enjuris tip: Learn more about how much your Tennessee personal injury claim might be worth, including what factors might limit the amount of damages you can recover.

How can I prepare for a meeting with a Tennessee personal injury attorney?

If you suffer a neck or back injury, whether it occurs at work or is the result of someone’s carelessness or intentional act, you may benefit from the help of an attorney.

Many people don’t realize that most initial consultations are free. During a typical initial consultation, the attorney will tell you whether they believe you have a legitimate claim. They should also give you some idea of what steps they’ll need to take and how much it will cost. You’ll have the opportunity to ask the attorney questions so that you can decide whether they’re the right attorney for you.

To get the most out of your initial consultation, take a look at the following articles:

Ready to get started? Find an attorney near you using our free online legal directory.

 

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