A car accident can occur in just one moment, but it can cause a lifetime of trauma. Car accident victims can suffer from several effects of a serious collision, and many are left with significant nerve damage. There are more than 100 different types of nerve damage, ranging from mild to severe. But any type of nerve damage can result in costly medical bills and pain and suffering.
If you’ve suffered nerve damage from a car crash, such as a pinched nerve or radiculopathy, you deserve justice. Consider these recent nerve damage lawsuit settlements, and contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case.
What are Nerve Damage Injuries?
Your nerves are part of your nervous system—a wide-ranging network that’s involved in everything your body does. Nerves are responsible for thousands of various functions, from regulating your breath to controlling your muscles and sensing cold and heat.
There are three different types of nerves in your body:
- Autonomic Nerves: Control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body, such as regulating your temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
- Motor Nerves: Control all movement by relaying information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
- Sensory Nerves: Control pain and other sensations by relaying information from your skin and muscles back to your brain and spinal cord.
Nerve damage injuries occur when trauma stretches, compresses, crushes, pinches, or splices a nerve. Because proper nerve function is essential to daily activity, damage to any of your three nerve types can significantly impact your quality of life.
Degrees of Nerve Damage Injuries
“Nerve damage” is an umbrella term for various types of nerve injuries. There are so many different types of trauma that can affect nerves. Therefore, for the sake of a personal injury case, it’s easier to quantify nerve damage by the severity of the injury.
There are three degrees of severity for nerve damage:
- Neurapraxia: This is the least severe type of nerve injury. The structure of the nerve remains intact, typically promoting full recovery.
- Axonotmesis: This is a more serious injury. The structure of the nerve has been compromised, typically resulting in long-term or permanent paralysis of sensory and motor functions.
- Neurotmesis: This is the most severe of all nerve damage injuries. The nerve is severed entirely, resulting in permanent damage.
Each degree of nerve damage severity can individually impact a victim’s symptoms, pain levels, and path to healing.
Symptoms of a Nerve Damage Injury
There are more than 100 different types of nerve damage that can occur from a car crash. Due to the sheer amount of different nerves and injury types, the symptoms of nerve damage can vary on a patient-by-patient basis.
Generally speaking, common signs of nerve damage include:
- Severe pain
- Heavy sweating
- Inability to sweat
- Dry mouth and/or eyes
- Lack of bladder control
- Positional awareness problems
- Muscle atrophy
In the aftermath of an accident, it may be difficult to differentiate nerve damage from common aches such as back pain, so it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately.
Causes of Nerve Damage After an Auto Accident
You might be wondering, “Can a car accident cause a pinched nerve?” The answer is yes. Vehicle collisions can damage nearly every part of the body, and damaged or pinched nerves are a major concern for thousands of car accident victims.
Damage typically occurs during the force of impact. A victim’s body can be thrown against the vehicle steering wheel, dashboard, or door, or the victim can suffer severe crush injuries that damage nerves. Similarly, an accident can damage bones in the victim’s body, causing secondary nerve damage.
Many drivers experience nerve damage in their legs, feet, arms, shoulders, hands, and face, depending on where they suffered crash-related injuries. The following are typical car crash injuries that can cause nerve damage.
Nerve Damage From Back Injuries
Back injuries are among the most common auto accident injuries, so it’s no surprise damage to the spine could cause far-reaching nerve damage. The spine is composed of small bones called vertebrae, as well as soft tissue called muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Vertebrae and soft tissue protect the spinal cord, which sends information between the brain and other parts of the body.
During an auto accident, the force of impact can injure the delicate components of the spine, damaging fragile nerves. For instance, bulging or herniated discs can compress a nerve, causing a pinched nerve. Severe trauma to the back can cause spinal cord damage, which can permanently cease nerve communication. This type of damage can result in paralysis, loss of bladder control, and other chronic conditions.
Nerve Damage From Neck Injuries
The force of a collision can cause a victim’s head to rush forward and snap back rapidly, creating what’s known as a whiplash injury. Whiplash is a type of sprain caused by the stretching or tearing of the soft tissue of the neck. In severe cases, whiplash can also result in a painful shoulder injury.
The forceful jerking motion of the head and neck during whiplash can cause nerve damage in this area. Nerves can stretch, tear, or become compressed if swelling occurs.
Nerve Damage From Blunt-Force Trauma
Blunt-force trauma is an injury caused by a forceful impact, such as an automobile accident. It typically occurs when a body part slams against a hard surface, such as the vehicle dashboard or door. In severe cases, blunt-force trauma occurs when a victim is ejected from the automobile.
Hitting the head, arms, or legs on a hard surface can crush or compress nerves in the respective area. In particular, a head injury—such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI)—can cause swelling that will compress cranial nerves.
Nerve Damage From Lacerations and Avulsions
Lacerations and avulsions are both very common following a traumatic wreck. A laceration is a type of wound that occurs when skin and soft tissue are torn. These types of injuries are often irregular and jagged. Deep cuts or tears into the skin from an auto accident can sever the nerves in the affected area.
An avulsion is a type of injury that occurs when a body structure is torn off, usually when a small piece of bone attached to a tendon or ligament is pulled away from the main part of the bone. Separating ligaments or tendons from bones can create serious nerve damage.
What is the Value of Nerve Damage in a Car Accident Settlement?
Due to the enormous quantity of different types of nerve damage injuries, the values of car accident settlements can vary significantly. Many factors can impact nerve damage from car accident settlements, from the severity of the injury to the degree of fault.
The primary factors involved in determining the settlement value of a nerve damage case include the severity of the injury, cost of current and future medical care, pain and suffering, clear liability, and the amount of available insurance.
1. Severity of the Injury
The severity of an injury refers to the amount of physical pain, medical care, and permanent damage a victim suffers, as well as how their way of life has been altered. When determining the severity of a serious injury, an insurance adjuster or attorney will consider:
- How much pain the nerve injury caused and how frequently that pain occurs
- How effective medical care has been to reduce or eliminate nerve damage symptoms
- How the nerve injury is impacting their ability to perform daily functions, work, or hobbies
Because nerve damage can vary so greatly in severity, each case must be evaluated individually.
For example, consider an athletic individual who was involved in a car crash. Before the crash, they had dedicated their life to physical fitness, but after the crash, they experienced ongoing and chronic pain. If the pain is so severe that it permanently impairs their ability to exercise, that would be considered a serious injury.
Alternatively, consider an individual who experienced moderate pain after an automobile accident. If their pain was alleviated with physical therapy, it would not be considered a severe injury. A more serious injury is more likely to receive higher compensation than a less severe injury.
2. Cost of Medical Treatment
An accident claim should account for all medical treatment, including future medical costs. This is especially true for individuals with severe injuries who are likely to experience long-term damage. Types of medical treatment that can be reimbursed in a personal injury claim include:
- Prescription medicines
- Medical imaging, such as x-rays
- Hospital and doctor’s bills
- Ambulance fees
- Home care
Nerve damage injury that will incur long-term care will result in a higher settlement payout.
3. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury. Examples of pain and suffering may include physical aches and pain, mental anguish, and diminished quality of life.
While you can put a price tag on a doctor’s bill, a non-economic damage (like pain and suffering) is a bit harder to determine the cost of. For instance, permanent paralysis or disfigurement cannot be included within a victim’s medical expenses, but it can be claimed under pain and suffering. Be sure to consult with a car accident attorney to demand the amount of pain and suffering damages you are owed.
4. Clear Liability
Liability is the basis for all personal injury cases, including car accidents. To be liable for someone’s injuries means you must accept both legal and financial responsibility for the accident and resulting damages.
A significant factor in valuing a nerve damage car accident settlement is the likelihood that the other driver(s) can be found liable at trial. Some cases have clearer-cut liability, such as when a motorist is hit when stopped at a red light or parked in a parking lot. In other cases, especially multi-car accidents, liability may not be so obvious.
Proving liability depends on evidence. A victim must present evidence that successfully proves the other motorist was at-fault for the car accident that led to their nerve injury. An attorney can help gather all applicable evidence to prove liability, including photographs of property damage, witness statements, and recreations of the accident scene. All of this evidence will be presented during the discovery phase of the case.
5. Amount of Insurance Coverage
Another massive factor that determines a nerve damage injury car accident settlement is the amount of available insurance coverage. A typical personal injury claim will first go through the at-fault motorist’s auto insurance policy to seek the necessary compensation.
In some cases, one insurance policy alone is enough to compensate a victim for all damages. In other cases, such as a truck accident, there may be multiple insurance policies to compensate a victim. However, there are cases in which a driver’s policy limit is simply not enough to compensate for all damages. In these situations, a victim may have to file a lawsuit.
It’s crucial to work with a car accident lawyer who can investigate all available insurance policies and determine if a lawsuit is worthwhile. In situations where an insurance policy has been exhausted or the insurance company has denied the claim, but a victim has remaining damages, it may make sense to file a lawsuit.
Average Nerve Damage from Car Accident Settlement Amount
As a disclaimer, remember that an average settlement amount can range drastically and will rely on the individual details of the case. Generally speaking, an accident victim can expect $15,000 to $75,000 for mild to moderate injuries. For severe damage, a victim may receive $100,000 upwards into millions.
For a bit of perspective, consider these significant nerve damage lawsuit settlements from recent car accident cases.
$1,850,000 Pinched Nerve Car Accident Settlement
A 43-year-old woman was stopped behind a delivery truck when the truck operator suddenly began to back up. The truck struck the front of the victim’s vehicle, causing her to sustain a cervical herniated disc. The disc herniation caused a pinched nerve in her neck which required an anterior cervical discectomy and a fusion surgery.
The victim alleged she would not be able to return to work as a paraprofessional in her local school district due to her nerve damage. The case settled at mediation for $1,850,000.
$9,263,326 Nerve Damage Lawsuit Settlement
In a more high-profile case, a 52-year-old male passenger in a New York City yellow cab was involved in a multi-vehicle rear-end collision. As a result of the pile-up, the victim sustained severe nerve damage to his lower back, which required both a laminotomy and facetectomy. He was disabled from his job as a banquet waiter and required extensive rehabilitation.
The case was brought to trial where the victim’s attorneys argued for future pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, and future medical expenses. It took nearly four years to reach a final verdict, but the victim was ultimately awarded $9,263,326 for his car accident claim.
Seek Legal Advice from a Personal Injury Attorney
Have you or a loved one suffered nerve damage injuries as a result of another driver’s negligence? An accident attorney can offer a complimentary case evaluation to review all aspects of your case, from your medical expenses to your pain and suffering. Seek a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer from Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC by calling (480) 999-9181 today.