If you have a back injury due to another’s negligence, the wrongdoer should fully compensate you for your economic and non-economic losses. Civil Cases in Kansas have a two-year statute of limitations usually. A compensable case has three parts: 1. Negligence on the part of the wrongdoer 2. Injuries caused by the negligence and 3. Someone that has the financial resources to compensate you.
Back Injuries: Executive Summary
Assuming you have liability and someone to pay, the focus of your case will be on putting a value on the damages and getting a fair settlement or jury verdict. Back injuries range from the very mild to severe disability. Your back structure includes the thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, and coccygeal vertebrae, surrounded by tendons, muscles, and ligaments, all protecting the nerves or spinal cord. Each vertebra is separated by a disc that acts as a shock absorber and allows our back to bend. A vital part of your body function is the spinal cord nerves that allow your brain to control your arms and legs. If a spinal injury causes pinching of the spinal cord, this can cause shotting, sometimes burning pain into extremities often called radiculopathy. This condition can make activities of daily living very difficult. While your back is flexible and puts up with a lot of stress, injury accidents can push your back structure beyond its limits creating injury.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my back hurting?
Your back structure protects the nerves and, when injured, can press on these nerves resulting in intense pain or loss of function. The mayo clinic has some very useful online resources for understanding the structures of the back and the mechanisms involved in back injury.
How Much is Your Back Injury Claim Worth?
A jury evaluates all the evidence and agrees on the amount of the verdict. Lawyers base a settlement on estimates of what an actual jury would award. The value of your claim depends on the severity of the injury. If your back injury results in permanent restrictions that will restrict your activities and income in the future, then the jury will increase the amount of the award. At the other end of the spectrum, a muscle sprain that goes away after three months will be valued only on the amount of medical bills, income loss, and an amount for the suffering due to pain.
Do I need a Lawyer?
Not always. Get a copy of our free book to learn what kinds of cases can be handled without a lawyer.
Who pays for my loss?
Initially, you will want to submit the bills to your own insurance company so you can get medical treatment, but at the end of the case, the wrongdoer is required to pay. If the Defendant has liability insurance, then the insurance company will pay the claim up to the amount of the policy limits.
Other Important Questions About Back Injuries
What is a permanent back injury?
Back injuries often result in permanent disability. A permanent injury is one that lasts longer than three to six months and has real restrictions on your ability to function.
How do I prove permanent injury?
No one can view the future with certainty. Still, the medical providers have enough education and experience to give an opinion both as to the nature and extent of any permanent restrictions. A vocational expert can provide an opinion as to how the limits will reduce your future income.
What can bar my claim?
Your claim must be filed in court within the applicable time limits, usually two years from the date of the accident. If you miss the deadline, also called the statute of limitations, your claim is barred. Also, if the Defendant can prove you have 50% or more of the fault, then the comparative fault statute will bar your claim.
If I have prior back problems, can I still recover?
Yes. In a civil action, unlike Kansas work comp, you can recover for aggravation of preexisting conditions. Although insurance companies often use preexisting conditions to deny a claim, the fact is a back weakened due to a preexisting condition can be more severely injured than a perfectly healthy back.
The back is severely injured when the disc, that shock absorber between the vertebra, is broken. This herniation or bulging occurs as a result of the impact of the accident. Doctors will call this condition a herniated disc or a bulging disc. A CAT scan or MRI will show the Doctors the nature and extent of the bulging. The pain is created when the bulge presses on your nerve. The medical providers will treat the condition usually with some physical therapy first, perhaps some steroid injections, and when the pain is unbearable and all other treatments have been ineffective, surgery. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and weakness with pain in the legs. Nerve conduction tests can measure the extent of any nerve damage. Another common injury to the back is a fracture of the parts of the vertebrae.
Important Court Cases Involving Back Injuries
As we mentioned before, in a civil case, the jury can award compensation for a back injury even when there is a serious preexisting condition. In one such case, the Kansas court pointed out in talking about a plaintiff that had a preexisting problem “She had, it is true, a congenital back condition, which had been latent and unknown but was triggered into painful symptoms by the accident. We have held that aggravation of a preexisting condition is compensable in an action to recover personal damages from a tort-feasor. (Knoblock v. Morris, 169 Kan. 540, 220 P.2d 171; Rowe v. Maule Drug Co., 196 Kan. 489, 413 P.2d 104.) The same rationale is found in compensation cases, and in Williams v. Benefit Trust Life Ins. Co., 200 Kan. 51, 434 P.2d 765, it was also applied in an action based on an accident policy.” Kirk v. Beachner Const. Co., 214 Kan. 733, 737, 522 P.2d 176, 180 (1974)