One of the biggest causes of injuries for those in Chicago each year continues to be car accidents and other traffic incidents that occur on local roads and expressways. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation reported that 285,477 such traffic crashes happened in the state in 2013 alone. Of those, the official statistics report that 21.4 percent resulted in injuries to at least one person involved.
The percentage allocated to injury accidents likely is low, though, because it is based upon the self reports of victims immediately after they are involved in a collision. Typically, vehicles collided and a law enforcement official is sent to respond to the scene. That officer will ask the drivers and passengers involved if they are hurt and in need of an ambulance if an ambulance has not already been called to the area. There is a tendency among accident victims to underplay their symptoms right after an impact because they are in shock and unsure exactly how they feel. Often, their minds have not slowed enough for them to process what happened to them and the adrenaline rushing through their veins may delay the onset of pain.
In response, many accidents are declared to be “property damage only,” meaning that no injuries resulted from the impacts, but in fact, victims of those incidents may be hurt and may receive medical treatment in the days that follow the collision. Victims should realize that it is important to get help from a medical professional if injuries happened in a car accident and that their pain and discomfort should not be ignored.
Back and neck injuries are very common following a Chicago car accident, including rear-end collisions which are the largest type of crash in the city. The design of cars and the motion that occurs during an impact means that little support is provided to the neck and back of a passenger, making it more likely that those areas will be harmed.
Back and neck injuries are complicated and can range from the minor to the extremely serious so it is always a good idea to seek help from an expert. Towards the minor end of the spectrum, victims may sustain musculoligamentous injuries including sprains and strains, harm which is uncomfortable, limiting, and frustrating to victims but which generally will heal and will not be life-threatening. Much more seriously, a victim may sustain a fracture to one or more of the vertebrae that comprise her spinal column which can be perilous if that fracture is displaced, potentially causing harm to other areas including the spinal cord.
After a car crash, injuries to the discs that provide cushioning between spinal vertebrae are very common. Typical incidents may involve bulging, protruding, or herniated discs which involve the discs sticking out between the bones of the spine which is a very painful condition. If the disc is displaced far enough, the disc may put pressure on the spinal cord which can cause weakness, numbness, and a loss of function to different areas of the body, commonly the arms and legs. Victims who sustain disc injuries may need a range of treatment that can include physical therapy, steroid injections into the spine, or even the surgical removal of the affected disc.
A host of different injuries with different courses of treatment can result from a car accident, regardless of how the collision occurred. But the outlook for a patient’s health is almost always better when treatment is sought quickly and by a skilled professional after the crash and therefore pain in the back or neck should never be ignored by collision victims.
When a back or neck injury is caused by the conduct of another, whether that conduct is negligent or reckless, a victim may be entitled to seek relief by pursuing a civil claim for damages. Speaking with a personal injury attorney who handles car accidents in Illinois is a good place to start if you have questions about your legal rights or options.
Prior Blog Entry:
Uninsured Drivers are on Chicago’s Streets: What You Can Do to Make Sure You’re Safe, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 13, 2016.