Professional Legal Services in Serious Injury Cases
Have you injured your neck or back in an accident in Colorado that was caused by someone else’s negligent, careless, or reckless behavior? If you have, you know how painful and debilitating these injuries can be and how badly they can affect everything you do—at home, work, or play—robbing you of many of life’s pleasures and maybe even keeping you from being able to work. You may be left with costly medical bills, be unable to go work for weeks or months, or suffer from chronic pain and discomfort for years to come, all because of a negligent driver, property owner, or government agency.
However, the state of Colorado allows accident victims to pursue compensation for both the financial costs of your injuries and the personal costs of an accident in a personal injury claim. But to receive that compensation, you will want to work with a law firm that has the knowledge, expertise, and skill to ensure not a single cent is left out of your case. The Tenge Law Firm, LLC can provide just that legal guidance. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced Fort Collins back injury attorney for a free legal consultation right away before the case becomes harder to handle over time. Our attorney can shoulder the majority of the legal burdens of filing a claim so that you can focus on recovering and getting your life back. To learn how we can represent you in a personal injury claim, contact our Fort Collins office at (970) 212-4777.
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Types of Neck and Back Injuries
Depending on where in your neck and back the injury occurred and the type of trauma, your injuries may be temporary and can heal through physical therapy and surgery, or they may be permanent and you may have to deal with mobility issues, disabilities, and chronic pain for the rest of your life. When evaluating a neck or back injuries, the size of your claim may be directly related to the specific tissue or area of the body that was damaged. The types of injuries that most accident victims file claims for include:
Whiplash: While typically dismissed by insurance companies after an accident, whiplash can develop into a serious condition. It is often caused when the neck is jerked back and forth in a fall or car crash. Whiplash presents itself as sharp pain and limited mobility, both of which are typically resolved through medication, physical therapy, and rest. However, serious conditions can lead to chronic pain, mental health issues, and even hearing damage.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The most catastrophic back and neck injuries are those associated with damage to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries typically involve a form of nerve damage, which can cause paralysis, the extent of which depends on the region of the spine where the injury occurred. In the neck area, the result is usually quadriplegia, also called tetraplegia, which is paralysis of the entire body, including all four limbs—everything below an injury in the cervical spine. If the injury is in the thoracic or lumbar area, the result is paraplegia, which is paralysis of the lower body. In either case, the victim is typically confined to a wheelchair for life. Many people suffering from quadriplegia (tetraplegia) require a ventilator to help them breathe because paralysis affects the diaphragm.
Fractured Vertebrae: A broken back is an injury in which the vertebrae are fractured or dislocated, often as the result of a motor vehicle. Fractured vertebrae are most common in the middle and lower back—the thoracic and lumbar spine. Surgery is usually performed to prevent compression of the spine and cord damage. While technically related to spinal cord injuries, a fractured vertebra and broken back can heal through surgery, therapy, and medication without a victim suffering from permanent paralysis so long as the nerves are intact.
Herniated Discs: A herniated disc is a bulging or rupture of the gelatinous material that forms a cushion between the vertebrae. The herniated material can put pressure on a nerve, causing severe pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and muscle spasms. A herniated disc in the lower back may also cause pain that radiates into the pelvis, hips, and legs. In the neck area, the pain will usually radiate into the shoulders and upper arms.
Torn Rotator Cuffs: The rotator cuff makes up the muscles and tendons along the shoulder joint. If any element of the rotator cuff is torn, it can be extremely difficult to move your arm or lift heavy objects without experience sharp pain and discomfort. While a rotator cuff is typically damaged caused by overuse, it can also tear in a car accident, fall, or even a dog attack if your arm is pulled on too hard.
Sprains and Strains: Your neck and back are made up of a column of vertebrae that protect the nerves of the spinal cord. Ligaments are soft tissues that hold those bones in place; tendons join the muscles to bones. A sprain occurs when the ligaments in the back are stretched too far; a strain is a soft tissue injury from overstretched muscles and tendons. Sprains and strains cause inflammation and pain and can restrict your range of motion and limit your activities for months.
Most neck and back injuries are accompanied by some form of pain, discomfort, or limited mobility. While your back is composed of powerful muscles, ligaments, and tendons, if any part of it is damaged, the rest of your body can have a difficult time functioning. You can even have difficulties controlling your organs, such as your bladder and or your lungs, if you suffer from paralysis. At the end of the day, a neck or back injury can go far beyond aches and strains and can horribly impact your entire life. But if someone caused your injuries through an act of negligence, then you may be able to file a claim for damages against the at-fault party.
Causes of Neck and Back Injuries
Because of the various muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, and nerves that make up our necks and backs, there are several different ways they can be damaged. While some injuries are the result of straining yourself while playing sports or poor sitting habits, many serious conditions are due to sudden trauma. This can range from a fall in a grocery store to a collision between a car and bike to a swimming pool accident. In more than 30 years of experience, the Tenge Law Firm, LLC has seen a wide variety of accidents cause neck and back injuries, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicyclist accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and falls
- Swimming pool and diving accidents
- Dog attacks
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
In each of these instances, if you can demonstrate that another person, company, or government entity was at fault for your injuries, you have the right to demand compensation. Broadly speaking, this is referred to as a personal injury claim, but the specific claim you can file will vary. If you were involved in a collision with a commercial truck, you may be able to file an auto accident claim against the truck company. In contrast, if an apartment owner left out a safety hazard and you tripped down a flight of stairs, you may be able to pursue a premises liability claim. But to recover compensation, you will need to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine negligence and liability.
How to File a Claim
To recover compensation for a neck or back injury, you must first determine if another individual had a duty of care towards you and, in breaking that duty of care through an act of negligence, whether they are liable for your injuries.
A duty of care is a general legal concept that means that someone else was reasonably expected to protect you from harm. For example, every driver on the roads around Fort Collins has a duty of care towards each other. If a driver violates that duty of care by texting while driving and causing an accident, then anyone they injured could file a claim against their liability insurance policy. In turn, property owners have a duty of care towards invitees and visitors on their property. If a property owner was aware of a safety hazard or should have been aware of a safety hazard, and that hazard injured someone before the owner could fix it, then the owner would be liable in a premises liability claim.
But receiving compensation is not as simple as showing that someone had a duty of care towards you. You must first demonstrate how their actions – or inactions – caused your injuries. Typically, in a personal injury claim, this means proving that they acted negligently. Negligence can vary depending on the situation, but it can include building a property without safety features like emergency exits, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or letting a poorly trained dog run loose in your neighborhood. Essentially, negligence is any action a reasonable person would not commit in a similar situation.
To prove negligence, you will need to collect key pieces of evidence that show the liable party acted carelessly or recklessly. This, too, can vary depending on the accident, but common types of evidence include:
- Accident reports (including police reports, property accident reports, and dog bite reports with animal control)
- Medical records demonstrating the extent of your injuries and how they were caused
- Witness statements
- Photos or videos of the accident
The last key element in your claim will be the amount of money you are seeking from the liable party. In the state of Colorado, you can collect two types of damages you can pursue in a claim: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages will encompass all of the financial costs of your injuries, ranging from your medical bills to lost wages. This typically makes up the majority of your claim, as neck and back injuries often come with some form of mobility issue or disability. Even if you have long-term medical expenses like physical therapy, assisted living equipment like wheelchairs and walkers, or medication, you can include these expenses in your claim. In addition, if the accident affected your ability to work, any lost career opportunities or wages can also be included.
In contrast, non-economic damages make up the non-financial costs of your neck or back injuries, such as your pain and suffering, mental trauma, and your inability to enjoy certain hobbies or activities. Pain and suffering damages are extremely common in neck and back claims but are not the easiest to recover. Insurance companies will typically dismiss the pain you have dealt with and argue that you are over exaggerating your trauma. However, your medical records and doctors’ testimony can support the pain you are going through. In addition, if you log your daily pain in a journal, you can also present it as evidence in your claim.
Determining liability, collecting evidence, and negotiating a fair settlement offer can be difficult if you are dealing with a debilitating injury in your neck or back. But there is no reason for you to do it alone. A skilled personal injury attorney can handle the investigation side of your case while you focus on recovering.
Professional Legal Services in Ft. Collins for Neck, Back and Spine Injuries
All back and neck injuries come with a high cost in medical expenses, lost earnings and productivity, and human suffering. The worst injuries, to the spinal cord, are catastrophic and can permanently change your life. When your injury was caused by someone else’s wrongdoing, you have every right to hold that party accountable and to pursue compensation for all that you’ve lost.
Having the right lawyer working for you will improve the likelihood of a fair recovery that fully compensates you for damages to your finances and your quality of life. In Ft. Collins, the Tenge Law Firm, LLC has the highest possible Martindale-Hubbell and AVVO ratings. Our Fort Collins personal injury attorney will provide the aggressive, skilled, and professional representation that can make an enormous difference in your life after a serious injury. Call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (970) 212-4777 today for a complimentary consultation with our dedicated personal injury lawyers to learn about your options.