A woman in a white shirt reaching over her shoulder to nurse a back injury.

Car accidents can be very jarring, with each vehicle slowing or stopping suddenly due to the impact. Seatbelts do an excellent job of preventing severe injuries caused by ejection from the car, but being thrown forward against a seatbelt can still cause strain on the back and neck.

Unlike a laceration or a broken bone, an injury to the back or neck isn’t always immediately apparent. Some people feel little or no pain right after the accident while still experiencing an adrenaline rush from the crash.

Later, as the adrenaline wears off and the body starts trying to repair the damage, victims may experience new or worsening pain or other symptoms.

Back and neck injuries often result in chronic pain and the need for ongoing treatment, including diagnostic tests, physical therapy, medication, etc. Unfortunately, the insurance company may be uninterested in helping you pay for these expensive medical bills or other damages like lost income, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more.

What can you do to recover your losses?

Contact a Denver Neck and Back Car Accident Injury Attorney Today

You shouldn’t have to struggle with an insurance company while trying to recover from your injuries. An experienced car accident injury lawyer can help you demonstrate fault, prove the validity of your injuries, and properly value your claim to ensure the insurance company pays a sufficient amount.

If you’re suffering from back, neck, or other injuries following a car accident, please contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation about your case. We’ll review the evidence, answer your questions, and explain your options for seeking damages.

What Are Some Common Back and Neck Injuries After a Car Accident?

Back and neck injuries can occur in multiple ways during a collision. Some may resolve on their own in a few weeks, while others can cause chronic pain for months or years after the crash. Here are some of the injuries we often see in car collisions:

Slipped or Herniated Discs

Discs in your spine serve the function of absorbing shocks during typical activities like walking, running, or lifting heavy items. In a car accident, the shock to the spine may be much greater than these usual events, putting additional stress on the soft, jelly-filled discs.

If the outer layer of a disc suffers enough stress, it could crack, allowing some of the jelly-like substance to leak through and press on surrounding areas, causing pain and other symptoms.

A slipped or herniated disc in the lower back often results in symptoms of sciatica, as the disc may put pressure on the nearby sciatic nerve. In addition to pain in the lower back, you may also have numbness or tingling that affects your legs or feet and sometimes muscle weakness in this area.

A herniated disc in the neck can cause pain, numbness, and tingling, not just in the neck but also in the shoulder blades, arms, or fingers. Frequently, these symptoms are worsened when you bend or turn your neck.

If you are diagnosed with a slipped disc, your doctor will most likely recommend that you rest and take over-the-counter medications for a few days. For some people, this will solve the problem, but if your symptoms persist, you may need medication, physical therapy, spinal injections, and, in rare cases, even surgery.

Sprain or Strain

These injuries result from tears in the muscles or ligaments of the neck or back. They can coincide with slipped discs, and the symptoms are often similar, with the most prominent being neck or back pain.

Most people recover after a period of rest, but in some cases, a strain or sprain can lead to chronic issues.

Whiplash is one of the more common sprains, affecting ligaments in the neck. This injury happens when the sudden deceleration of an impacted car causes the head to snap forward and back violently, leading to small tears in the ligaments.

Rest, cold compresses, and anti-inflammatory medications often help milder cases, and many people fully recover within a few weeks or months of the accident. However, some people develop chronic symptoms that may be diagnosed as Whiplash-Associated Disorder (WAD), which can last for months or years.

Pinched or Compressed Nerve

The impact of a car crash can shift muscles, vertebrae, tendons, and, as previously noted, discs in the spine. Sometimes, these shifts put pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain and other symptoms of nerve damage or entrapment—burning, tingling, or shooting pains are common.

On the other hand, some people may experience numbness or a “pins and needles” feeling in the affected area. Other times, symptoms may vacillate between pain/burning and numbness/tingling.

Treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes medications like Gabapentin that treat nerve pain. A doctor may also prescribe physical therapy in the hopes of relieving the pressure on the nerve.

If these measures don’t resolve your symptoms, they may eventually consider surgery.

Facet Joint Injuries

You probably use your facet joints more than you think. They’re responsible for most movements you make with your head and neck—turning to look at something, glancing down to see if your shoes are untied, etc.

When an accident strains these joints, they sometimes become inflamed, causing pain and stiffness, especially when you move your head or neck. For some, this inflammation could turn into a chronic condition like arthritis.

Facet joint injuries can be treated with medication, spinal manipulation, spinal block, or surgery.

Cervical Fracture

A fracture in the spine is somewhat less common, but the possibility should always be taken seriously. In some cases, a person with a “hairline” fracture of the spine may feel relatively normal, but if the spine is moved out of alignment, the consequences could be more severe, including permanent paralysis.

This is one reason why any pain or discomfort in the back or neck area should be investigated by a healthcare provider right away

If you have any back or neck pain after an accident, you should inform the 911 operator or paramedics immediately, even if you feel your symptoms are mild and harmless. The paramedics will transfer you to a special board that stabilizes the spine until a fracture can be ruled out with X-rays.

Why Is It So Difficult to Make an Insurance Claim for Your Neck or Back Injury After a Car Accident?

There are several issues that can complicate your insurance claim for a neck and back injury:

  • First, the insurance adjuster is most interested in saving the insurance company money and often tries to blame the injured party. Yes, this can even happen if you were rear-ended! In Colorado, the insurance company can reduce your payment if they claim you were partially at fault for the accident, even when there is evidence against their client. If they argue that you were at least 50 percent responsible, they could even justify denying your claim entirely.
  • Disputes about fault can occur in any car accident, but the insurance company also has other tactics to avoid paying back and neck injury claims. You might receive a denial because the adjuster either thinks your injuries are fake or exaggerated or that they didn’t happen in the accident. This is especially common in cases where the injured person’s symptoms didn’t begin right away, so they waited several days or weeks to get treatment. We encourage you to see a healthcare provider right away after your accident to help avoid these situations, but if you didn’t do that, see one as soon as possible when you begin having symptoms.
  • The adjuster thinks some of your treatments are unnecessary. Sometimes, when the first treatment options haven’t worked well, doctors may prescribe physical therapy, injections, or other less commonly used therapies. The insurance adjuster might claim a particular treatment is unnecessary because other options are available (even if these already failed).
  • The adjuster undervalues your claim. If you’ve received a settlement offer from the insurance company, we recommend discussing it with an attorney to ensure it meets all your needs. Sometimes, the insurance company may offer to pay your current bills but make no allowances for future treatment. They might also ignore your pain and suffering, which is valid damage and can be considerable in these cases. Your attorney will help you properly value your claim and fight for your deserved settlement.

No matter what the challenge is, your lawyer may be able to help you file a claim or appeal a denial. We’ll gather evidence to show the other driver was at fault and use your medical records or expert testimony to show that your injuries are real and your treatment is necessary.

How to Get Help From a Denver Neck and Back Car Accident Injury Law Firm

Olson Personal Injury Lawyers is always available for a free consultation to address any questions or concerns you have about car accident injuries and other damages. If we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it, and there is no obligation.

Please contact us today to learn more about your options.

Attorney Sean Olson founded Olson Personal Injury Lawyers in 2012 and advocates tirelessly for injured people and their families. Telling his clients’ stories and fighting for the compensation they need to recover is his passion.

Mr. Olson is a member of the Colorado and Wyoming Bar Associations and has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for five years. Work with his team of experts when you call Olson Personal Injury Lawyers at (720) 730-4325.