Being local to the Chicago area, we understand the difficulties that come with driving in “The Windy City.” While there are always new and exciting things to discover, such as stunning architecture, diverse culture, and exceptional cuisine, driving Chicago’s roads can be hazardous. Potholes, roadwork and extreme weather are major obstacles that even the most experienced driver deals with. Unfortunately, these road hazards increase the risk of car accidents. If you have been in a car accident, then you know that your neck can suffer significant injury, even if your seatbelt is buckled.
Which neck injuries are most common after a car accident?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Whiplash typically occurs when your head is forcefully and quickly thrown backward and then forward.” is especially common in rear-end collisions, but can occur in other types of accidents as well. The sudden and forceful back-to-front motion of the neck in whiplash can cause damage to more than just the muscles and ligaments in the neck, including the vertebrae in the spine, disks between the vertebrae and nerves.
Whiplash may be the most well-known type of neck injury, but it’s not the only one. Other injuries include:
- Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra, or bone, in the spine moves forward and slips out of place in relation to the vertebra below it. Whiplash can potentially cause spondylolisthesis in the cervical spine or neck.
- Slipped or herniated disc. A slipped or herniated disc affects the cushion between the cervical or spinal vertebra. This can put pressure on the nerves in the neck, causing pain, numbness or tingling down your arm. It can also reduce your neck’s range of motion.
- Pinched nerve. A pinched nerve happens when one of the nerves that run through your neck gets compressed or irritated by the surrounding muscles or bones. The result can be pain, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness down your arm. It’s like when you have a kink in a hose and the water flow is interrupted. In this case, the nerve impulses can’t travel properly and you’ll feel the unfortunate effects.
- Neck sprain or strain. A neck strain or sprain is a common injury that can occur in a car accident. It happens when the muscles or ligaments in the neck are stretched or torn due to sudden impact or movement. Sprains and strains range from micro tearing in the muscle tissue to a deep tear that can require surgery to fully heal.
- Neck fracture or compression fracture. A neck fracture is a crack or break in one of the vertebrae or bones in the spine. A more severe type of neck injury is a compression fracture, where the rounded front part of the vertebrae cracks or breaks. Both types of injury are serious, but compression fractures are particularly dangerous as they cause the spine to weaken or collapse leading to hunched posture and discomfort.
What are the most common surgical procedures for neck trauma?
After a car accident, the types of neck surgeries that may be necessary depend on the specific type and severity of the injury. Some of the common neck surgeries that may be required after a car accident include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). A doctor may recommend ACDF as a solution to a herniated or bulging disc. This surgery involves removing the damaged disc through a small cut in the front of the neck, and fusing the neighboring vertebrae together with the damaged bone. This can help alleviate pressure on the nerves and reduce pain.
- Cervical artificial disc replacement. In this surgery the damaged disc is removed in a diskectomy and replaced with an artificial disc. This minimally invasive procedure can help alleviate pain and improve mobility in the neck.
- Vertebroplasty. Doctors may recommend vertebroplasty to alleviate the pain and stabilize the spine after a fractured vertebrae. In this minimally invasive procedure a special bone cement is injected into the damaged vertebrae.
- Laminectomy. This surgical procedure involves the removal of bone spurs and tissues associated with arthritis of the spine to create more space. This process enlarges the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and is typically part of a decompression surgery.
- Bone grafts. During this procedure the surgeon will make an incision over the bone injury and remove the bone graft from either the surrounding area or the pelvis. Once the graft is removed the surgeon will shape it to correct the defect and insert it into the injured area, securing it with pins, plates or screws if necessary.
If you ever get into a car accident in Chicago and end up with a neck injury, your wellbeing is of the utmost importance. Seek medical attention after your accident if you feel any ill effects. Putting off treatment could make things worse, and it could also hurt your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. So be sure to get checked out as soon as possible.
Can I seek compensation for a neck injury after a car accident in Chicago?
If you’ve been in a car accident in Chicago and have suffered a neck injury, it’s important to know that you might be able to seek compensation for the damages you’ve incurred.
After getting medical attention for your injury, make sure to keep a record of all expenses and losses related to the accident. These expenses may include, medical bills, physical therapy, co-pays, lost wages, loss of future earning potential, pain and suffering (both mental and physical) and expenses related to your car’s damage, this can include rideshare services while your car is under repair. Keeping detailed records and seeking services promptly after the accident will help your Chicago car accident attorney address your needs most directly. In the aftermath of a car accident be proactive to seek the help you need.
Immediately following your car accident take these important steps to provide your Chicago car accident attorney with a clear context of the incident:
- Contact police to gather a police report.
- Photograph the scene. Be sure to capture all visible damages on the vehicles involved and any visible injuries. Consider doing a video walkaround of the scene as a clear representation of the incident.
- If there are witnesses present, note the time you spoke to them, ask for their full legal name, their phone number and a detailed account of what they saw, recording the conversation with their permission.
It’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible after a car accident to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. A Chicago car accident attorney at Gainsberg Law can help you understand your options, build a strong case, and fight for your rights in court if necessary. Call us or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation today.