Learn the symptoms and when you can recover damages
Injuries to the neck or back are traumatic. They can leave you with intense pain or with full or partial paralysis. These injuries can be particularly problematic since they often limit mobility and sleep.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are roughly 28,000 cases of spinal cord injuries across the United States, and that doesn't account for the number of people who simply suffer from neck or back pain.
In many cases, neck and back injuries are due to an accident caused by another person. If this is the case for you, you may be eligible to receive compensation to help offset your medical expenses and lost time at work.
Read on to learn more about neck and back injuries, as well as your legal rights with respect to injury claims in Texas.
Recognizing the signs of a neck or back injury?
The first step to getting help is identifying your neck or back injury. These types of injuries range from whiplash (the most common neck injury) to complete paralysis.
After an accident, adrenaline often keeps your body from feeling the full severity of your injury until days or even weeks later. For this reason, it's important that you receive medical attention as soon as possible after an accident.
Some common symptoms associated with a neck or back injury include:
- Neck or back pain
- Loss of movement or weakness in an extremity
- The inability to feel sensations like heat, cold, or touch
- Loss of bladder control
- Reflexive spasms
- Intense back pain
- Difficulty breathing normally
- Difficulty with walking or balance
What accidents typically cause back and neck injuries in Texas?
In Texas, the 2 types of accidents most likely to cause neck and back injuries are car accidents and slip and fall accidents.
Other types of accidents that commonly cause neck and back injuries include:
Can I sue for my neck or back injury?
If you've suffered a neck or back injury, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be your only way to receive compensation.
Personal injury cases generally require that the plaintiff (the injured party) prove that some other party (the defendant) was negligent. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached that legal duty by acting (or failing to act) in a certain way.
- The defendant's actions (or inactions) caused the plaintiff's injuries.
Common examples of negligence include running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, and failing to clean up spilled water or some other slippery substance.
If your injuries were caused by someone else's negligence, you can file a personal injury claim.
Keep in mind that if your neck or back injury was sustained at work, you may be able to file a workers' compensation claim instead of a personal injury lawsuit. Workers' compensation claims are generally preferable to personal injury lawsuits because you don't need to prove that your employer was negligent in order to receive compensation.
Who will be held liable for my injuries?
Anyone who can be proven negligent at the time of the accident could be responsible for paying compensation. Those parties could include:
- Another driver
- Property owner
- Medical professional
- Product manufacturer
It's possible that more than one party will be held liable in your case. Your attorney can help identify all negligent and responsible parties in your case.
What sorts of compensation can I receive for my injuries?
Neck and back injuries are often debilitating and require months or years of treatment. Even after treatment, you may never completely return to normal. The cost of initial medical treatment and the rehabilitation that follows can cause bills to pile up quickly. To make matters even worse, you may not be able to return to work right away because of your injuries.
Fortunately, if you've suffered a neck or back injury in Texas, you may be able to collect both special and general damages.
“Special damages” are economic and can be assigned a monetary value. Special damages include:
- Medical expenses (both current and future)
- Lost wages
- Damages to property
- Funeral costs (in a wrongful death case)
In contrast, “general damages” are non-economic and have no objectively verifiable value. General damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- A loss in quality of life
- A loss of companionship (in a wrongful death case).
The most important thing you can do to ensure that you're properly compensated for your injuries is to keep track of all your medical expenses and document the impact of your injuries on your day-to-day life.
Fortunately, Enjuris can help with this! Take a look at our damages worksheet and post-accident form below.
Damages worksheet to track expenses for your injury claim (medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, prescriptions)
Download in PDF format
Post-Accident Journal Form
Sample accident journal/diary to help you document the effect on your daily life
Download in PDF format
What if I'm partially at fault for my injuries?
Texas is one of several states that has adopted the theory of modified comparative fault. This means that, if you're found partially responsible for your injuries, your total compensation may be reduced based on how responsible you were.
For example, let's say you're driving your car along East Mockingbird Lane in Dallas at night without your headlights on. You collide with a vehicle that ran a red light while driving north on Skillman Street. The court might find that you were 10% at fault for the accident (due to the fact that you didn't have your headlights on) and the driver of the other vehicle was 90% at fault (due to the fact that they ran a red light). In this situation, you would only be able to recover 90% of your damages.
However, there's another important component of the modified comparative fault rule. If you're found to be more than 50% at fault for your injuries, you're prohibited from recovering any compensation.
When do I need a Texas attorney?
It's not always clear whether you need an attorney or not. Fortunately, most attorneys offer free initial consultations. During the initial consultation, you'll be able to get a good idea of your case value, the strength of your case, and the cost of legal representation. This should go a long way in helping you decide whether or not to hire an attorney.
If you need help finding an experienced Texas attorney, take a look at our free online directory.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.