Car crash victims often suffer back injuries ranging from sprains and strains to herniated discs, fractured vertebrae and paralysis. When an injury shows up on an X-ray, it is usually pretty easy to link to the crash.
However, what if it is a soft-tissue injury and not visible on an imaging test? Even though Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, the insurance company may claim your injury is not linked to the crash. They may also say it is a preexisting injury, which would mean your car insurance policy does not apply.
Below, our experienced Harrisburg auto accident lawyers discuss the challenges of validating a claim for these kinds of injuries. Even though personal injury protection (PIP) applies no matter who is at fault, the victim must still prove the injury is related to the crash.
If you have questions about seeking compensation for a car crash injury, give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help and there are no upfront fees for our services.
Crash victims have a bad habit of downplaying their injuries and waiting to seek treatment. Crash victims may feel sore after the accident but think it will probably go away on its own in a few days or a week or so. Sometimes that may be true.
However, it is possible for symptoms of a serious back injury to get worse over time. You may not feel that bad right after the crash, but hours or days later, you may be in significant pain.
It is better to be cautious and seek medical treatment after a crash. At the very least, the doctor can confirm you have minor injuries. If the doctor is unsure, he can have you come back in a few days for a follow-up visit. The records of your visit soon after the crash help to link the injury to the crash. The insurance company may still dispute it, but you should have a stronger case because of your medical records.
Delaying treatment gives the insurance company room to claim you were injured by something else besides the crash. They could claim a preexisting condition or that you were injured by something that happened between the crash and the time you sought treatment.
You should always seek treatment after a car crash. If you get up the next day and notice the pain is worse, particularly if it spreads down an arm or leg and is accompanied by numbness or weakness, you should get to a doctor right away.
Diagnosing a Back Injury
Typically, a broken bone is easier to confirm than a soft-tissue injury. One reason why is that broken bones show up on imaging tests. A quick physical exam by a licensed doctor can also confirm a broken bone relatively quickly, although the doctor likely needs an X-ray to accurately diagnose the fracture and determine appropriate treatment.
However, soft-tissue injuries can be harder to confirm because they are more subjective and may not show up on an imaging test, unless there is significant inflammation.
Even if the injury shows up on an imaging test, the doctor is still going to need the patient to explain how badly it hurts and how the injury is limiting mobility. The doctor will also do a physical exam to test range of motion and determine areas that are tender or prone to muscle spasms. Doctors may need to check other areas that may be affected by a back injury. Doctors may try to determine if you are having trouble standing up straight, walking or bending at the waist.
A broken bone could be accompanied by a soft-tissue injury. That means you may think you just have sore muscles but suffered a more serious injury.
Bias Against Soft-Tissue Injuries
Insurance companies often do not consider soft-tissue injuries to be that serious. They often think it must not be that serious because otherwise there would be a broken bone.
This sentiment is echoed throughout society, as many people think injuries are not that serious unless there is a broken bone. That may be one of the reasons insurance companies think they can use this as an excuse to downplay soft-tissue injury claims.
That is why it is important to have extensive medical evidence of a back injury, even if it does not show up on an imaging test. Attending follow-up appointments is also important because it shows you are taking the situation seriously. If you miss appointments or stop treatment, the insurance company is likely to assume you do not think it is that big of a deal. They may use that as justification not to devalue your claim.
If you have questions about documenting a car crash back injury, you should strongly consider talking to an experienced lawyer for assistance.
Call Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Your Crash
Give us a call today to learn how we may be able to assist you. Back injuries can be quite severe and require long-term treatment. Victims often struggle to obtain full compensation from their insurance company without help from a licensed lawyer.
Schmidt Kramer has been helping crash victims for more than three decades and has obtained millions on their behalf.
We are here to help you. No upfront fees. Call (717) 727-2669.