Find out when you can receive compensation for your catastrophic injury
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.
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:
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:
- 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),
- 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
- 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:
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.
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|
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).
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:
- Initial consultations with personal injury attorneys
- Preparing to meet with your personal injury attorney
- A worksheet to prepare you for your first meeting with an attorney
- Choosing a personal injury attorney - interview questions
- Negotiating lawyer fees - what does a lawyer cost?
- When do you NOT need an attorney after an accident?