One of the most painful and debilitating types of injury suffered in a car accident is nerve damage. Vital parts of the nervous system involved in countless bodily functions, the nerves are divided into three categories:
- Motor nerves. These nerves control movement by sending information from the spinal cord and brain to the body’s muscles.
- Autonomic nerves. These nerves are responsible for involuntary bodily processes like pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.
- Sensory nerves. These nerves sense pain and send information from the muscles and skin to the spinal cord and brain.
Many types of nerve damage can occur in a car crash. Whiplash stretches nerves in the neck and upper spine. Slamming against a steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield in a high-speed wreck can cause broken bones to pinch a nerve. Two especially serious types of nerve damage common in car accidents are:
- Neuropathy. Irritated, inflamed nerves cause chronic burning pain aggravated by any use of the affected body part.
- Radiculopathy. Inflammation of nerves in the spinal cord can be totally debilitating.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage After a Car Accident
The symptoms of nerve damage might not surface immediately after a car accident. For this reason, you should see a doctor even if you’re not yet experiencing any symptoms:
- Severe nerve pain
- Dry eyes/mouth
- Balance issues
- Speech problems
- Heavy perspiration or sudden lack of perspiration
- Tingling/numbness/burning of extremities
- Loss of bladder control
- Constipation/urinary issues
- Muscle atrophy
Long-Term Results of Nerve Damage
The long-term results of nerve damage can have a tremendous impact on your ability to work and participate in normal daily activities:
- Sensory nerve damage can mean chronic pain or a total lack of sensation.
- Motor nerve damage can limit your ability to use your hands, arms, and legs.
- Autonomic nerve damage can compromise bodily functions and be life-threatening.
- The emotional impact of these changes on your life could be as serious as your physical injuries.
For some time after your accident, you’re not going to know how severe or long-lasting your nerve injuries are. Recovery from nerve damage can take months or years. If the damage turns out to be permanent, you could be totally or partially disabled, in which case the cost of your long-term medical care could be astronomical.
Seeking Medical Attention After a Car Accident Protects Your Right to Compensation
Delaying diagnosis and treatment of a nerve injury can aggravate the damage and make it harder to heal. Seeing a doctor right away improves your chances for recovery and provides documentation of your nerve injuries. If a negligent motorist caused your accident, this documentation is essential to the insurance claim you’ll file against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Don’t Accept a Quick Settlement
The adjusters from the at-fault driver’s insurance company know the potential cost of car crash nerve damage claims. They’re likely to contact you shortly after your wreck and offer you a quick, low settlement to save their company money. You should not accept their first offer.
Instead, if you have or think you might have nerve damage, you should consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible and refer the insurance company to your lawyer, who can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury by:
- Working with your doctors to estimate your recovery time, level of pain, and long-term care needs.
- Calling in expert medical witnesses to testify to the severity of your injuries and the emotional/psychological impact of your disability if any.
- Evaluating your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life in dollars and cents in order to demand a reasonable settlement to compensate you fairly.
- Filing a lawsuit and fighting for you in court if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair award.
Every case is different, and it’s impossible to predict the exact amount of the settlement you should expect in a nerve damage case. Awards might range from as little as $15,000 to as much as $75,000 or $100,000, depending on your age and lifestyle at the time of your accident.
In cases of permanent disability, your award could be even higher, sometimes more than the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance. In such a case, a car accident lawyer can help you find other sources of compensation to pay for your damages.
Contact Our South Dakota Car Accident Attorneys Today
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you get fair compensation for your present and future damages. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.