Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in the United States. In California alone, nearly 300,000 people are hurt in motor vehicle crashes each year. These types of accidents can lead to significant financial losses, causing victims to incur medical bills, car repair expenses, and lost wages due to their injuries.
In many car accidents, victims suffer from nerve damage when their nerves are stretched, compressed or even cut in the force of the collision. When nerves are damaged, it may take a substantial amount of time to fully recover — if recovery is even possible. A personal injury lawsuit can help cover the costs associated with nerve damage and other injuries from a crash.
If you have been injured in a California car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A Glendale car accident attorney can work with out throughout the process, from a free initial consultation to the final resolution of your case.
Understanding Nerve Damage
Nerve damage can make it difficult for your brain to communicate with your muscles and organs. When the peripheral nerves — the nerves that send messages from your brain and spinal cord to your body — are injured, it may result in a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. Depending on which nerves are damaged, it may result in a wide range of symptoms.
The peripheral nerves include three types of nerves: motor nerves, which regulate the muscles under your conscious control, sensory nerves, and autonomic nerves, which regulate the activities that are not controlled consciously, such as breathing. Symptoms of nerve damage may include:
- Motor nerves: muscle weakness, painful cramps, and uncontrollable muscle twitching
- Sensory nerves: numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, difficulty sensing pain or changes in temperature, challenges with walking and balance, and difficulty with fine motor skills such as fastening buttons
- Autonomic nerves: excessive sweating, changes in blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and the inability to tolerate heat
In many cases, nerve damage will include more than one type of nerve fiber. As a result, a person who has suffered nerve damage may experience a number of different symptoms.
There are many potential causes of peripheral nerve damage, including certain medical conditions and autoimmune diseases. One of the most common causes of nerve damage is accidents, such as a car crash or a slip and fall. This type of trauma to the body may result in the nerves being stretched, compressed, crushed, or even cut.
Nerve damage is diagnosed through a combination of a physical and neurological examination as well as diagnostic tests. These tests may include an electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction study, and/or a MRI.
Treatment for nerve damage depends on the type of injury and extent of the damage. If the nerve has been completely severed, then it is less likely to heal. Treatment options may include medications to relieve pain, physical therapy, or even surgery to restore function. Braces or splits or electrical stimulators can also be used to help restore function to muscles that have been affected by nerve damage.
How Nerves May Be Damaged in a Car Accident
While there are many possible causes of nerve damage, many people suffer this type of injury in a motor vehicle collision. The force of a crash can cause damage to many parts of your body, including to your nerves. This typically occurs when a nerve is stretched, compressed, or severed.
For example, in a rear-end accident, you may suffer whiplash due to the severe jerking motion of your head and neck back and forth. This can cause the nerves in your neck to be stretched or even pinched. Nerve damage related to whiplash may require extended treatment for a full recovery.
Blunt force trauma can also lead to nerve damage. If you hit your head, arms, legs, or other body part during a car accident, your nerves may be compressed as a result. This may be the result of hitting something hard inside or outside of the vehicle.
In some car accidents, a driver or passenger sustains lacerations to the skin. For example, if the car’s windshield shatters in a crash, the glass may cut the driver, either on impact or when they attempt to get out of the car. A deep cut to the skin can sever the nerves in that area.
After a car accident, you may experience symptoms of nerve damage, such as:
- Numbness or tingling;
- Shooting or radiating pain;
- Muscle weakness; and/or
- Decreased or lost reflexes
If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately — even if you don’t think that your injuries were serious. Prompt treatment may allow for a better recovery from your injuries. It can also be helpful if you decide to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver, as the other side’s insurance company will have a harder time claiming that the nerve damage was unrelated to the crash or that your injuries were made worse by a failure to seek treatment.
Recovering for Nerve Damage
If you have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy after a car accident, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver. Under California’s negligence loss, when a negligent driver causes injury to another person, they are responsible for those damages. By demonstrating that the other driver was negligent, you may be able to recover compensation for losses that you have suffered.
There are four basic elements that you must prove to show that the other driver was negligent:
- The other driver (defendant) owed you a duty to care;
- The defendant breached (violated) that duty of care;
- Their breach caused your injuries; and
- You suffered damages as a result.
In California, drivers owe all others on the road a duty to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle. If they violate that duty, such as by speeding, driving under the influence, texting while driving, or failing to look out for obstacles in the road, then they will be responsible for the damages that they have caused.
If you can prove these elements, you may be entitled to compensatory damages, including both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include items that are relatively easy to prove, such as medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Non-economic damages may include things that are harder to prove, but are still losses, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life.
In rare cases, punitive damages may be available. Punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. For this reason, they are relatively rare in California car accident cases, and are typically only awarded when the at-fault driver acted recklessly or intentionally.
In most cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim. A skilled Glendale car accident attorney can help ensure that your case is filed in a timely manner. Your lawyer will also aggressively advocate for you throughout the process, from the initial investigation to the final resolution of your claim.
Hurt in a Car Accident? We Can Help.
Despite advances in technology, car accidents happen far too frequently in California. If you have suffered nerve damage in a motor vehicle collision, you may be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault driver.
Megeredchian Law is dedicated to helping victims of all types of accidents, including car crashes. With offices throughout California, we work hard to help our clients get the compensation that they deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us at 818-530-1300 or email us at any time.