As an Ohio Car accident attorney I often help car accident injury victims with back pain get money from insurance companies. It is called justice. It gives me great satisfaction to help a harmed client get their life back together physically and financially. In order to do this it is critical to be able to prove that the injury ( in many cases a back or neck disk injury) was caused by the automobile crash.
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Here's The Methodology Developed Over the Last 30Years To Prove Your Auto Crash Back Injury
Educate myself about the medicine involved and how the medical specialists make their judgement Ultimately a doctor that treats my client is going to have to give me an opinion that the disk injury was caused by the car collision in question. I have to immerse myself in the medicine regarding the kinds of disk injuries and the kinds of evidence doctors look at to see if it was caused by trauma or was there another cause, such as wear and tear or the natural aging process. You need to know the difference between a bulging and herniated disc, as a bulge is more likely to be a common age related finding. ( Source Mayo Clinic ) Of interest is the illustration above (showing two vertebrae and one disk) calls it a bulging disk and I renamed it a herniated disk. Unfortunately many doctors use the terms interchangeably when they are two different entities. The bulge looks more like the disk appearing beyond the confines of the vertebrae in at least 180%. whereas a herniation also sometimes called a protrusion is more focal in size and shape. In the illustration above the disk is pressing on the nerve in the low back. this normally will cause the nerve to be painful and as it goes down the leg the individual would feel pain down the leg.
The Patient History: Their Story Is Critical
What the patient says about how they were injured and what their pain was like is critical. If the pain went into the buttock or down the leg there is suspicion of nerve compression by a disk. Couple that with a history that there was no blow to the leg that could be causing the pain then the suspicion is that the disk has herniated and is pinching the nerve like our illustration. When did the pain start in relation to the car accident or other traumatic event. If the pain started two weeks later in the back and two months later in the leg many doctors would not relate the disk injury to the car wreck. But if the injury in the back and the pain radiating down the leg was immediately or within a day or so of the event the evidence is stronger that the car collision caused the disk injury. What was the past medical history of my client. Did they ever have back or leg pain before. If they did and it persisted the question becomes Was the disk problem already there? Was there any past medical treatment for back or leg pain? If the pain was years before and went away and did not come back that can be seen as an isolated strain or sprain and not a disk issue. So past history is critical.
What Do All the Medical Records Say
People have a tendency to forget as time goes on the pain they had if it was inconsequential. In a few cases some claimants get scared and lie. That kills a case and rightfully so because their credibility is compromised. So it is important to gather past medical records from family doctors as well as from any orthopedic doctors. If there is no indication of any back complaints then the case is stronger for the current trauma being the cause of the problem. It is important of course to get all treating doctors' records. You want to compare the history the client gave you to what gets in the records. Sometimes it gets recorded incorrectly. Then you must tell the doctor the correct history to see if that affects his opinion as to causation.
What Do the Clinical Tests and MRI and X-Rays Show
First a diagnosis of the problem has to be made. Is is a disk injury or is it a fracture of the vertebrae or is it arthritis. The correct diagnosis must first be made and then the cause of the diagnosed condition can be better clarified. If the disk space has narrowed and there is some arthritis in the back on the vertebrae then that may lead to a conclusion that the herniation has been caused by degenerative age and/or wear and tear and not the trauma. Although degenerative effects can be aggravated and cause more severe pain. But if the vertebrae are clean and the disc height is normal and well hydrated then this leads to more of a traumatic event as being the cause. In a rare case you will have fluid and swelling seen around the disk. This is strong evidence of a disk injury caused by a car accident. But rarely is the fluid or edema ever seen on MRI.
How Old Is the Man or Woman That Was Injured
Medical evidence and most doctors agree that after a certain age in the 40-50 year old range, 40-50% of the population has a herniated disc. Many have no symptoms at all. So if it's a younger person then it is more likely a traumatic event.
Is the Patient Believable
The truthfulness of the claimant is critical. If they claim they can not do certain things, and that the pain is intolerable yet they are on Facebook running a marathon then their whole case comes into question, even if the MRI shows a herniated disk. Also do they appear to be trying to get better? Are they going to therapy? Are they following doctor's orders?
What Does the Doctor Say and How Do They Say It
It is important that the doctor treating the patient has all the facts straight. Then when they write their report are they strong in their conviction that the car crash caused the herniated disc? Do they know the mechanism of injury? Was it a rear-end collision? Were the forces violent enough to show significant car damage? When did the pain start and where?
Was the Injury Causing Event Believable
If there was very little or no car damage it can be hard to persuade many people that the event caused the injury. Although many doctors will say the amount of car damage is not significant some doctors will. Most jurors just do not accept a severe herniated disk can be caused from an accident where there is no car damage and the offending party says their foot slipped off the brake and they rolled into the car in front of them.
What Medical Literature Is Reliable and Helpful
If it comes down to a disagreement between the treating doctor and the doctor the insurance company hires it is important for me to buttress my case with helpful medical literature. All I need to do is have one of the doctors say the literature is reliable and I can use it to ask the insurance doctor if he agrees or disagrees with what is stated in the literature. This in effect gives me a written witness that supports my client that the disk was caused by the car accident. There is plenty of helpful literature out there. But for now I will keep that to myself. Recently I asked an orthopedic surgeon from Tampa Florida, Dr John Shim, if he would give us his thought process on how he determines if a disk injury was or was not caused by a car collision. You may agree or disagree with Dr Shim, but his thought process is instructive. Click here to read his article.
Anthony Castelli Attorney has over 30 years experience in car accident claims and over 25 civil jury trials. He is rated preeminent by Martindale Hubbel and Superb by AVVO. He is also listed by Super Lawyers Magazine as an Ohio Super Lawyer in personal injury. He will discuss your case with you at no charge. Anthony will take your case only if he thinks he can put more money in your pocket than you could do by your self. So he limits his practice to serious injury. Anthony practices throughout Ohio and will come to you if you can not get to him. His fee is contingent on recovering money on your behalf. He can be reached at 1-800-447-6549 or in Cincinnati locally at 513-621-2345.