Car accidents can cause a variety of injuries, from mild scrapes and bruises, to more serious head trauma and fractures. Some victims also sustain nerve damage in car accidents, which can vary by degree of severity. The most severe type of nerve damage is that which affects the spinal cord, which can lead to permanent paralysis.
In any event, anyone involved in an auto accident should seek prompt medical attention and make themselves aware of their legal options.
What is nerve damage?
Nerves are critical fibers that transmit impulses of sensation in the body from the brain or spinal cord to the muscles and organs. The body comprises three general types of nerves.
- Autonomic nerves –These nerves control the involuntary bodily actions. They also control the partially voluntary actions of the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation.
- Motor nerves – These nerves control your movements and actions by passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
- Sensory nerves – These nerves allow you to feel pain and other sensations by relaying information from your skin and muscles to the spinal cord and brain. When the body processes this information, it allows you to feel pain.
Nerve injuries are usually caused by compression on the spine or another body part as a result of the impact of the accident. When any of the nerves, nerve endings, or nerve clusters sustain damage, a victim can experience a variety of symptoms. Nerve damage can affect everything from sensory abilities and muscle function to body temperature and blood pressure. The most common symptom is pain, which can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that significantly interferes with quality of life.
What are some signs and symptoms of nerve damage?
Damage to the nerves that branch off from the spinal cord (nerve endings) usually results in pain traveling down the arms or legs to the hands, fingers, feet, and toes. Pain is not the only symptom of nerve damage, but the symptoms will vary, depending on the severity and part of the body injured.
Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet are also signs of nerve damage. Doctors refer to this type of interference as radiculopathy. Orthopedic doctors and neurologists clinically diagnose radiculopathy by observing the patients’ symptoms and performing medical tests, such as EMG and nerve conduction tests.
The type of nerve involved also determines the symptoms. Motor nerve damage to the lower part of the spinal cord could result in muscle weakness and paralysis to the legs, whereas damage to the ulnar nerve in the arm could result in loss of motor function in the hands and loss of coordination in the fingers.
Symptoms of sensory nerve damage include tingling, numbness, prickling sensations, and burning. And when the damage occurs to the body’s autonomic nerves, it can affect the body’s systems, such as those that regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. It may cause chest pain, excessive sweating, and bladder or sexual dysfunction.
How is nerve damage treated?
Diagnosis and treatment are critical because without treatment, nerve damage can progressively worsen to the point of disability. There is no universal cure for all nerve damage, but there are treatments available that can alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. If there is another injury that is causing or contributing to the nerve condition, one of the first objectives of treatment will be to address the underlying cause.
Treatment will also center on reducing patients’ pain, which may include therapies such as pain medication, and certain antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs, as well as alternative approaches like acupuncture, hypnosis, and meditation. Neurologists may also recommend physical therapy to prevent muscles from tightening and surgery to repair the actual damaged nerves.
Recovery can take weeks, months, or even longer. In some cases the damage is irreversible, especially in cases of severe damage to the spinal cord; in this case, treatment may focus on improving functionality and quality of life.
What are my financial recovery options for car accident injuries?
If you were at primarily at fault for the accident, you can turn to your own auto, health, and disability insurance to help cover your needs. However, if another party was at fault for your accident, e.g., another driver or a faulty car manufacturer, you might be able to file a claim or lawsuit and seek complete financial recovery for your nerve damage injuries and related losses.
You can start by reviewing your case with a local car accident attorney to determine if you qualify. Your attorney can investigate liability, gather proof to support your case, file the claim, and address any issues related to Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws or other applicable personal injury statutes that might affect your settlement.
Your lawyer can also help you and your doctors establish the extent and impact of your injuries so that you can be compensated appropriately. To help substantiate your case, you can start documenting your symptoms and how they are impacting your life. For instance, if your injury prevents you from working or performing daily tasks such as grooming or getting dressed, be sure to document this in a pain journal.
Note: if you are eligible to file a negligence claim or lawsuit, you may seek compensation for not only the medical bills, but for the direct and indirect impact the injury has had and will have on your life. This means you can recover damages such as pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and disability.
Can Cordisco & Saile LLC help me with my nerve damage car accident case?
Our injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC have helped thousands of injured Pennsylvanians successfully resolve their car accident cases. We accept even the toughest nerve damage cases, and make it our prime objective to help those who are hurting seek the restitution they need and deserve.