Back Injury

Back injuries are common in personal injury cases. Several types of trauma can cause a back injury, including automobile accidents, falls, and medical malpractice.

For some victims, back injuries cause life-altering conditions. In addition to pain and suffering, victims often incur significant financial losses. Here is an overview of back injuries and personal injury claims.

What Causes Back Injuries?

What Causes Back Injuries?

Your back supports your body’s weight and allows movement while protecting vital organs. The back consists of the spinal column, vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and other soft tissues. Generally, the “back” includes the region from your neck down to your coccyx (the base of the spine or tailbone).

Three common causes of back injuries are blunt force trauma, hyperextension injury, and penetrating injury. 

You can suffer a back injury from numerous accidents or incidents including, but not limited to:

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Truck accidents

If another party is responsible for causing your back injury, they could be liable for your damages. However, you must prove that their actions directly caused the circumstances that resulted in your back injury. An Atlanta back injury lawyer will gather evidence proving fault, causation, and damages. 

What Are Common Types of Back Injuries?

A back injury can impact the entire body. The location and severity of the back injury determine the effect on the rest of the body. The term “back injury” can include trauma to the entire back or a specific area of the back.

Examples of back injuries include:

Strains and Sprains

Sprains occur when the ligaments are damaged, and strains are caused when a muscle is overextended. Most back sprains and strains heal within a few weeks with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. However, back pain that does not go away or intensifies could indicate a more serious injury.

Fractured Vertebrae 

The vertebrae are the bones that protect the spinal column. Fractured vertebrae can sever the spinal cord, causing paralysis and/or loss of sensation. Most spinal fractures occur in the lower or mid-back but can affect any location along the spine. 

The treatment for fractured vertebrae depends on the severity of the injury. Some injuries may be treated using braces to stabilize the area until the fracture heals. However, surgical treatments might be necessary for severe fractures.

Complications from fractured vertebrae include blood clots, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and pressure sores. 

Disc Injuries 

Between each bone in the back is a spinal disc. The spinal discs have a gel-like inner layer that provides cushion during movement. Bulged or herniated discs occur when the inner gel of the discs leaks out into the spinal column, causing pain when it encounters nerves.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A back injury can result in damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord relays messages throughout the body to and from the brain. Damage to any part of the spinal cord can cause complete or partial paralysis, loss of function below the injury, and neurological impairment. 

The severity and location of the injury determine the degree of impairment. Sadly, spinal cord injuries cannot be repaired. Victims may recover almost all functions if there is little to no nerve cell death, but recovery of functions is impossible with a complete spinal cord injury.

What Are the Symptoms of a Back Injury? 

Back injuries have a wide range of symptoms depending on the type and severity of the injury. A back injury can cause minor pain, or it could result in complete paralysis. 

Symptoms that indicate you might have sustained a severe back injury include:

  • Numbness in your hands, legs, arms, and feet
  • Labored breathing or shortness of breath
  • Loss of normal bowel and bladder function
  • Blood in your urine
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Pain and soreness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty moving, stiffness, and/or limited range of motion
  • Radiating pain from the back down one or both legs
  • Pain that worsens when you move, sneeze, cough, or laugh
  • Complete or partial paralysis

Immediate medical attention is crucial after trauma to your back. Doctors may use various diagnostic tools to determine the type and severity of the back injury, including CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs. They will also analyze your symptoms and perform physical exams.

What Compensation Is Available After Suffering a Back Injury?

The compensation in a back injury claim depends on the facts of the case. Generally, victims can recover economic damages in a personal injury claim. 

Examples of economic damages include:

  • Past and future medical bills and expenses
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Long-term nursing and/or personal care
  • Past and future lost wages and earning potential
  • Out-of-pocket expenses 
  • Modifications to a home or vehicle because of a permanent impairment
  • Medical equipment and devices

In addition to the monetary damages, victims can also seek compensation for their non-economic damages

Examples of pain and suffering damages include:

  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Impairments and disabilities
  • Diminished quality of life

Some cases might qualify for punitive damages. Juries award punitive damages in a few cases to punish, deter, or penalize a defendant. The injured party must prove that the defendant acted with malice, willful misconduct, wantonness, fraud, oppression, or conscious indifference to the consequences of their actions.

Does Georgia’s Comparative Fault Law Apply to Back Injury Claims?

Georgia’s comparative fault law does not prevent you from seeking compensation for damages if you are partially to blame for the accident unless you are 50% or more at fault. If you are 50% or more at fault, you cannot recover any money for your claim.

However, you can recover some of your damages if you are less than 50% at fault. The amount of compensation you receive is reduced by your percentage of fault. Therefore, if you were 20% at fault for the cause of your back injury, you would only receive 80% of your damages. 

What Is the Deadline for Filing a Back Injury Case in Georgia?

The Georgia statute of limitations for back injury claims is based on the type of case being filed. Most personal injury claims have a two-year deadline for filing claims and lawsuits. The court can dismiss lawsuits filed after the deadline.

Exceptions to the statute of limitations and the facts of the case could change the filing deadline. Therefore, prompt legal advice is always advisable to avoid losing your right to pursue a personal injury claim in court. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss Your Back Injury and Damages

Back injuries can result in long-term disabilities and expenses. At Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers, our Atlanta back injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact our law office to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.