Can a Car Accident Make Spinal Stenosis Worse?
If you get into an automobile accident, you could suddenly experience worse or exacerbated symptoms of spinal stenosis due to the trauma of the crash. In addition, if you did not have spinal stenosis before your accident, the crash could cause a structural injury to your spine that immediately causes this condition. Either way, you may qualify for financial compensation.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal, or the space inside of the backbone. This can place pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, causing chronic pain, discomfort, weakness, and numbness or tingling in the legs and other areas of the body. In some cases, spinal stenosis can cause paralysis. Spinal stenosis is typically caused by old age and arthritis, which can lead to wear and tear of the spine. However, it can also be caused by trauma and injury to the spinal cord.
Spinal Stenosis and Car Accidents
Spinal stenosis can compromise the spinal cord and make it more susceptible to injury in an accident, including a car crash. If an individual who has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis gets involved in a vehicle collision, the forces of the crash can make spinal cord injuries like spinal stenosis worse. Even a crash that occurs at a low speed can place pressure on the nerve roots, causing pain or even paralysis. What may have only been a mild condition prior to the crash can transform into severe or constant pain. New cases of spinal stenosis can also be caused by traumatic events such as severe car accidents.
Pre-Existing Injuries and Car Accident Claims in California
Pre-existing injuries do not preclude or disqualify a car crash victim from recovering financial compensation for his or her injuries in California. The Eggshell Skull Rule states that a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s “unforeseeable and uncommon reaction” to the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing. If the defendant is found liable for the car accident, he or she will be responsible for the full extent of the victim’s injuries and harm – including harm that was amplified by a pre-existing condition.
Note that you cannot recover financial compensation for spinal stenosis alone after a car accident if it was a pre-existing condition that was not caused by the crash. You can, however, obtain compensation for the amount that the car accident exacerbated, aggravated or worsened your pre-existing spinal stenosis. If you are experiencing new pain, discomfort or injury connected to your spinal stenosis because of the car accident, the defendant will be financially responsible for the difference in how you felt before the accident vs. how you feel now.
The Dos and Don’ts of Filing a Claim With Spinal Stenosis
It is important to handle a car accident claim involving a pre-existing condition like spinal stenosis carefully. Car insurance companies are known for trying to devalue car accident claims, including using a pre-existing injury as a reason to reject benefits. Follow these dos and don’ts to protect your best interests:
- Do go to a doctor for a checkup immediately after your car accident.
- Do not admit fault for the vehicle collision.
- Do report any pre-existing spinal stenosis to the car insurance company.
- Do not sign an authorization to release your medical records to the insurer.
- Do refuse to give the insurer a recorded statement.
- Do not jump into a fast settlement that may undervalue your injury claim.
- Do protect your rights by hiring an attorney before accepting an insurance settlement.
A car accident claim involving spinal stenosis can be challenging. For instance, an insurance company may try to deny coverage for your back condition if it was a pre-existing injury. You may need a Los Angeles car accident attorney to help you prove your injury claim and obtain fair financial compensation for spinal stenosis. If you find yourself in this position, contact Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP to request a free case review with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.