We hear this very often at our office. A client informs us that they told the adjuster or someone else (like a police officer or ER doctor) they felt fine right after the crash or fall. The Police Report will say something like, “No injuries reported and EMS was refused by Driver 1.” But this is not always the case. Many times, injuries do not fully develop for days or even weeks post-crash.
There are several reasons for this:
- The injuries are not life-threatening or acute (no broken bones, no apparent bleeding, no prolonged loss of consciousness, etc.).
- The body has a natural defense system that is triggered when it is disturbed (release of adrenaline).
- Routine medical testing in an ER or Urgent Care will not uncover soft tissue (ligament, muscle, tendon, etc.) injuries.
- Pain relieving medications will mask the injury, making discovery very difficult until meds are discontinued.
Our experience has been that injuries to the cervical spine and lumbar spine (neck and low back) will not fully present themselves for upwards of 6 weeks post-crash. The pain begins as a nagging issue to the client and then progressively gets worse until intervention is required. A bulging or herniated disc (sometimes inaccurately referred to as degenerative disc disease) can be a gradual building of symptoms. They can include:
- Restlessness or lack of sleep
- Pain radiating while sitting or walking
- Difficulty performing routine household chores without pain
- Numbness to lower legs and/or in low back
- Pain radiating to the shoulders or down the arm
All of these are symptomatic of some sort of soft tissue or disc injury. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan and reading by a radiologist) is needed, as well as clinical correlation to the symptoms. The MRI will potentially uncover a disc injury (it does not do this in every case but is the most widely available test to do so), which the radiologist can read and interpret. The radiologist then sends the report to the treating physician who must correlate the findings with his or her clinical findings (complaints by the patient, symptoms, in-office testing, evidence of recent trauma, etc.). If the treating doctor finds a correlation between the MRI report and the symptoms present, it is likely the injury is attributable to a traumatic event like a crash.
Ideally, once someone has been in a crash, he or she should immediately consult an attorney (remember—it is free). The best-case scenario is that you are just calling for some information and you will not need their services. Information is powerful.
Has there ever been an instance where you felt you did not know all of the options available to you? Remember, you only get one body. It is important to take care of it.