Suffering a neck or back injury after a car accident could greatly impact your health, work, and enjoyment of everyday life. Your mobility might be limited. You might not be able to perform your usual daily activities or complete certain tasks at work. It could also affect your relationships with friends, family, and partner or spouse.
If you sustained a serious neck or back injury in a car crash, you are likely to face steep medical expenses, and if you can’t work or can only take on light duties, you may not have the income to cover your expenses. Fortunately, the law allows you to seek compensation if someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
At Finz & Finz, P.C., our New York neck and back injury lawyers are committed to helping victims of car accidents just like you recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Types of Neck and Back Injuries
Many neck and back injuries require ongoing treatment. You might require surgery and need to attend physical therapy for an extended period of time.
Some of the most common types of back and neck injuries include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that occurs when a person’s head and neck are jerked violently around during a collision. Some whiplash injuries may not show up for hours, days, or weeks after the initial injury.
- Pinched nerves – When a nerve root is compressed, or “pinched,” by a disc or bone in the spine, it can cause pain, numbness and tingling, weakness in the legs, and/or pain in the arms depending on where the pinched nerve is located.
- Ruptured discs – When the gel-like core of a spinal disc is forced outward through the outer casing, the disc is ruptured. This can cause sharp pain and numbness, along with other symptoms.
- Fractured vertebrae – The force of a car collision can cause the individual vertebrae (or bones) that make up the spine to crumple or fracture, leading to pain in the back, legs, and arms, numbness and weakness, and more.
- Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries can severely limit your mobility and cause a significant loss in quality of life. The most serious spinal cord injuries occur at the top of the spine and can lead to quadriplegia, or paralysis in all four limbs. Other injuries in the mid to lower portion of the spine can cause paralysis below the waist. Even if you aren’t paralyzed, you might need leg braces or a walker to get around.
Neck and back injuries are often serious. Even if you don’t believe you were badly injured in the car accident, you should still be evaluated by a medical professional right away. Some neck and back injuries aren’t immediately obvious, but a skilled doctor should be able to detect these injuries through X-rays or imaging tests before complications arise.
Most insurance companies also require claimants to be seen by a physician within 72 hours of an accident. Otherwise, the insurance company might deny liability.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Neck or Back Injury in New York?
It can be tricky to predict the average value of a neck or back injury settlement because every case is unique. The value of your claim will be based on your financial and non-financial losses. The greater your losses, the more compensation you should be entitled to.
New York is a no-fault state. All New Yorkers must carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for a single accident. This coverage can be used to pay for certain financial losses if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who caused the accident. Through your PIP policy, you can recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including hospital stays, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, emergency care, surgeries, imaging tests, follow-up treatments, in-home care, medical equipment, physical therapy, and other costs associated with your recovery
- Lost income, if you have to take time off work to recover from your injuries
However, many back and neck injuries are serious and require long-term treatment. You also might be out of work for a significant amount of time. If you only carry the minimum in PIP coverage, your expenses could quickly exceed your policy limits.
Fortunately, New York auto insurance laws allow individuals who have suffered a serious injury to step outside the no-fault system and bring an insurance claim directly against the person who caused the accident. This provision exists because individuals who have suffered serious injuries in car accidents often face considerable medical expenses and other losses.
Through a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you could seek additional compensation not available under PIP, such as:
- Pain and suffering, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional distress, mental anguish, and physical pain
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Other non-financial damages
To bring a successful claim against the at-fault driver, you must establish that the other driver was negligent. You (or your attorney) will need to gather witness statements, police reports, surveillance camera footage, and accident reconstruction expert testimony to prove that the other driver was liable for the crash.
To successfully secure compensation, you’ll need to use the evidence you collect to show that the other motorist owed you a duty of care to prevent you from being harmed and that they breached that duty through negligence. For instance, if they were tailgating you at the time of the accident, that could be considered negligent behavior.
You must also demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence directly led to the accident and your injuries and that you suffered compensable losses due to the crash. Compensable losses can be financial (medical costs, lost wages) and non-financial (pain and suffering).
How a New York Neck and Back Injury Attorney Can Help
Whether you are pursuing an insurance claim with your own PIP policy or bringing a third-party claim or lawsuit against the at-fault motorist, you have a better chance of succeeding if you have competent legal representation. At Finz & Finz, P.C., we have the resources to investigate the accident that caused your injuries, document your losses, identify all potential sources of compensation, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and even take your case to trial if we cannot secure a fair settlement.
If you suffered a serious neck or back injury, contact a New York and Long Island personal injury lawyer at Finz & Finz, P.C. right away for a free consultation.