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Lower Back Pain After Car Accident: Your Path To Recovery

January 30, 2024 by Steven M. Gursten

Experiencing lower back pain after a car accident?

Lower back pain after a car accident is very common and the onset of pain is often immediate and acute, but it can also be delayed over days or even weeks. Lumbar pain can be debilitating and can prevent people from returning to work and from activities of daily living. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover full compensation and No-Fault PIP benefits.

Can I sue for lower back pain after a car accident?

In Michigan, if you are suffering from lower back pain after a car accident, you will likely be able to sue for compensation. To bring a lawsuit, you will have to show how your injuries have affected your life.

In order to bring a lawsuit for your lower back pain after a car accident you will need to be able to prove that the at-fault driver who hit you and caused your injuries was negligent. This means that the at-fault driver who caused the crash was violating traffic safety laws, or that he or she was not driving with the degree of care that a reasonably careful driver would exercise under similar circumstances.

Second, under Michigan’s auto law, you must prove that your injuries have caused you to suffer a “serious impairment of body function.” This is demonstrated by showing  that your injuries have affected your ability to lead your normal life that you enjoyed before the crash.

Third, you will need to comply with Michigan’s statute of limitations which allows you to bring a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation within 3 years from the date of your crash. It is important to remember that if the 3-year statute of limitations is not complied with, then you will be barred from suing and any lawsuit that you attempt to file will be automatically dismissed.

What compensation can I get for lower back pain after a car accident?

The amount of compensation that you may be able to recover for your lower back pain after a car accident will depend on: (1) your pain and suffering; (2) the extent to which your injuries have affected your ability to lead your normal life; (3) your lawyer’s track record; (4) the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s liability insurance and collectible assets; and (5) your excess medical expenses and lost wages.

Your compensation for pain and suffering will cover: (1) physical pain and suffering; (2) mental anguish; (3) fright and shock; (4) denial of social pleasure and enjoyments; (5) embarrassment; and (6) mental trauma and anxiety.

When your medical bills and lost wages (wages you lost out on because your injuries prevented you from returning to work) exceed the coverage limits of the PIP policy that you have purchased for No-Fault insurance benefits, your compensation may also include money damages to cover those excess amounts of incurred and future medical bills and future economic loss, as well as economic loss over the No-Fault statutory maximum for high-wage earners.

But make no mistake, your choice of who you hire to represent you is extremely important and also one of the most important factors that insurance companies use to evaluate how much to pay in a car accident settlement.

Auto insurance companies keep track of lawyers and law firms. Insurance companies know who the car accident attorneys are that go to trial and who the attorneys are that avoid trial and “settle short.” Unfortunately, the big advertisers you see on TV are well-known to settle short, because these law firms saddle their attorneys with very large caseloads and the business model is to move and settle cases as quickly as possible to pay for high advertising costs. An attorney who doesn’t have time to return phone calls because they have 300 cases they are trying to handle does not have time to go to trial or to maximize a settlement for a victim of a car accident. 

In contrast, an experienced injury attorney who is known for going to trial can usually settle cases for significantly more money and often much faster than attorneys who do not try cases. The insurance industry’s own data indicate your choice of attorney can increase the settlement amount by up to 4x more.

To learn more about how much compensation you may be able to recover in a settlement of your case, please check our “Settlement Calculator.”

Will No-Fault benefits cover my lower back pain after a car accident?

If you’re a Michigan resident, then the medical benefits provided under this state’s auto No-Fault insurance law will help you pay for your accident-related medical bills. The extent of your coverage will depend on the limits in the policy through which your claim is filed.

However, for medical bills that are not covered by insurance, you may be able to recover money damages for excess medical bills from the at-fault driver who hit you and caused your injuries.

Additionally, No-Fault benefits will also help to reimburse you for wages you were unable to earn if your injuries prevented you from going back to work.

To be entitled to recover No-Fault benefits for your lower back pain after a car accident in Michigan, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the auto insurance company within one year of the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4)) If you fail to file your application on time – within ONE YEAR from the date of your automobile crash – then you will forever be disqualified from collecting benefits.

Delayed lower back pain after a car accident

Delayed lower back pain after a car accident can be attributed to various factors, but is most often due to the crash causing a tear in the outer spinal disc and then the inner disc material may take days or weeks before it begins to press out of that tear and impinge on the nerves and spinal cord, causing pain.

Other reasons for why there may be a delay in pain include adrenaline and strong pain medications masking pain, a gradual build-up in the body’s inflammatory response, and limited mobility and movement due to other, more acute injuries. 

Common causes of lumbar pain after a motor vehicle crash

Lower back pain after a car accident can be attributed to a variety of causes. Perhaps the most common cause of low back pain is a herniated disc. The discs in our spine act as cushions between the vertebrae, but they can become damaged or displaced during a car accident. When a disc herniates, it can put pressure on the surrounding nerves and spinal cord,  causing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations.

In many cases,  a motor vehicle collision causes an aggravation of a pre-existing condition in the lumbar region. It is important to note that a pre-existing condition can be entirely asymptomatic – meaning it does not cause pain or any symptoms – and then a traumatic event, such as a car crash, causes that asymptomatic condition to become symptomatic. As we age, we all have changes in our lumbar region and to our spinal discs. These changes may even be visible in imaging, such as on x-rays or on MRI, but a person can be entirely unaware of this condition because it does not cause pain until it is activated by a motor vehicle collision.  

Other injuries that may cause lumbar pain after a automobile crash

  • Spinal fractures: The force of impact during a car accident can cause fractures in the vertebrae of the spine, resulting in severe lower back pain.
  • Sprains and strains: The sudden movement of the body during a collision can strain or sprain the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lumbar region, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Nerve damage: The impact of a an automobile crash can compress or damage the nerves in the lumbar, resulting in pain, weakness, or loss of sensation.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash after a crash occurs when the head and neck are forcefully jerked back and forth during a collision. Even though whiplash is commonly associated with the neck region, it can often cause flare-ups and mechanical dysfunction to the  muscles and ligaments in the lumbar region. 

If you experience lower back pain after a car accident, it is crucial to have a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional to identify any underlying injuries and develop an appropriate treatment plan as soon as possible.

Don’t wait to get medical attention

If you are experiencing lower back pain after a car accident, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Even if the pain seems minor at first, it is essential to have a proper evaluation by a healthcare professional. They can document your symptoms and establish a causal/temporal relationship to the car accident, so that if the pain worsens, your insurance company will be more likely to pay. The closer in time the documentation of symptoms is to the initial traumatic event, such as a car crash, the harder it will be for a claims adjuster to try to deny necessary medical care and treatment.  

When you visit a doctor for your lumbar pain, they will likely perform a thorough physical examination and may order additional diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, to get a clearer picture of the extent of your injuries. Based on their findings, they can provide you with a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and attend all recommended appointments for follow-up care. This not only ensures that you receive the necessary treatment for your pain but also creates a documented record of your injuries, which can be valuable if you decide to pursue legal action for compensation.

How to treat lower back pain after a car accident

Treating lower back pain after a car accident requires a multi-faceted approach which can include pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care injections and possibly surgery. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of your injuries and the recommendations of your healthcare provider. 

Here are details the common treatments mentioned about that may be utilized:

1.      Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate mild to moderate lower back pain after a car accident. Stronger medications may require a doctor’s prescription.

2.      Physical therapy: A physical therapist can guide you through exercises and stretches that will strengthen the muscles in your lumbar region, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. They may also use techniques such as heat therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound to provide relief.

3.      Chiropractic care: Chiropractors specialize in the manipulation of the spine to alleviate pain and restore proper alignment. They may use techniques such as spinal adjustments, massage, or traction to treat lower back pain after a car accident.

4.      Injections: In some cases, your doctor may recommend injections of corticosteroids or numbing medications to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief.

5.      Surgery: Surgery is typically considered a last resort for treating lower back pain after a car accident. It may be necessary if conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if there is a severe structural problem, such as a herniated disc or spinal fracture. Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for effectively addressing your back injury. Treatment strategies may include physical therapy, chiropractic care, medication, and in severe cases, surgery. Additionally, adopting lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good posture, can contribute to long-term relief.

Injured in a car accident? Call Michigan Auto Law now!

If you were injured in a car accident and have questions about your lower back pain and other injuries, call Michigan Auto Law now (855) 960-3320 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions.

We have more than 2,000 5-Star reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

Lower Back Pain After Car Accident: Your Path To Recovery

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