Some injuries from car accidents are immediately visible and clearly traumatic – open wounds, crushed limbs, and broken bones are easy to see. Other types of injuries, like brain trauma from a closed head injury or spinal compression, require medical testing in order to diagnose.
Nerve damage is a particularly serious injury that may not be readily apparent. There are nerves throughout the entire body, and they control everything from a person’s ability to breathe, walk, and eat When nerves become damaged, there is a very good chance that they will never fully heal. Even nerves that possess the ability to repair themselves take a very long time to do so.
One of the main types of permanent nerve damage that may arise after a car accident is called peripheral neuropathy. This type of nerve damage affects the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain, which are the peripheral nerves. When an individual suffers from peripheral neuropathy, they often experience pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in their feet and hands. They also may have circulation and digestive issues. The reason for this is because their damaged nerves are responsible for sending messages from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body. However, these nerves do not function normally anymore, leading to pain, suffering, and long-term consequences.
Another very dangerous type of permanent nerve damage that may occur from a car accident is neurotmesis. This typically occurs when a nerve is completely cut or severed. Individuals who have neurotmesis will have sensory and motor issues in their muscles, skin, and nerves within a specific area. While there is no cure for this type of nerve damage, surgery is highly recommended to manage the condition and alleviate the pain.
Why Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a far more serious result than people think
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that leads to “numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and forearm.” When a major nerve in the hand is squeezed, crushed, or compressed, a person can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Most people believe that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a minor condition; the truth is that it only becomes worse over time, and there is no cure for it. It can cause your hand to lose its entire function, meaning that you may never be able to use it again.
How do car accidents cause permanent nerve damage?
The human body is made up of countless nerves. That said, when a person is in a car accident, the impact of the accident can cause their nerves to become torn, compressed, pinched, or completely severed. Nerve injuries may be caused by:
- Pieces of flying glass or debris within the vehicle;
- Crushing damage from locked seatbelts or airbags;
- Hitting a window, dashboard, steering wheel, or headrest;
- Being thrown from the vehicle; and/or
- Being hit by a vehicle (if the victim is a pedestrian, cyclists, or other non-driver/passenger).
Unfortunately, many car accident victims do not think about nerve damage after a car accident. Instead, they often believe that the pain they are experiencing is normal. Consequently, they may avoid or delay seeking medical treatment for their symptoms. This delay could potentially make things worse as many treatments are only available for some nerve injuries if you move quickly.
Symptoms that may indicate nerve damage
If you think that you may have a nerve injury, there are specific warning signs that you can look out for, such as:
- Severe pain to a certain area of the body
- Inability to move specific muscles
- Numbness or tingling
- Shock-like sensations
- Loss of balance
- Loss of feelings in a certain area
- Muscle spasms
- Slow reflexes
Debunking the myth of nerve damage and pain
While pain is one of the primary indicators of nerve damage, it is important to understand that a person with a severe nerve injury may feel no pain at all. For example, the brain itself has no pain receptors. As such, when car accident victims sustain open head injuries from projectiles, they may feel pain in their head, but they won’t feel it in their brains.
However, studies show that damage to the brain can cause pain elsewhere. In short, what feels like a nerve injury may actually be the result of brain trauma. And for some folks, this pain will last a lifetime.
How can a Los Angeles car accident attorney help?
If you sustained permanent nerve damage in a vehicle crash, you may seek compensation for your injuries and losses. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is here to help you. Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers know that it can be challenging to prove that your permanent nerve damage is the result of your car accident, but we have decades of experience handling complex injury claims. We will:
- Review your medical records and treatment: We will need CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasounds, and other tests that will show your nerve damage and how severe it is. We can also use your previous medical history to show that your current injuries did not exist before the crash, or that prior injuries were made worse.
- Work with expert witnesses: Expert witnesses such as doctors, nurses, and physicians can be an important part of your legal strategy. They will help us explain to a jury that your permanent nerve injuries came from the car accident, and show the true extent of the damages you suffered.
- Speak with your employer: One of the damages you can seek is lost wages. A nerve injury can prevent you from working in your current job, and affect your ability to take on a new one. We will speak with your employer and coworkers about the role you held, and the way your injury has affected your ability to work.
- Analyze and evaluate the scene of the accident: McNicholas & McNicholas will review crash reports, video footage, photos, and the scene of the crash. We will look at the damage to your car (if applicable) and the one which hit you. We also review cell phone records. This analysis helps us build a picture of what happened the day you were injured, which we can present to a jury or in settlement negotiations.
If you notice specific symptoms throughout the day that could be related to your permanent nerve damage, it would be a good idea to record it. For example, if your wrist begins to keep you from doing your daily obligations that you once were able to do, you should make a note of this. We will use this information in court as part of your argument.
Permanent nerve damage may lead to several months or years of accumulating medical expenses and lost income. Unfortunately, even then, you will most likely not be fully recovered. However, our Los Angeles car accident attorneys at McNichols & McNicholas have the knowledge and skills to guide you through these trying times, making the difficult legal process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
If you are ready to speak with a firm that has what it takes to get the justice you deserve, call our office or fill out our contact form today. We are currently offering free, remote consultations for your convenience, and we are ready and available to start reviewing your case.
This blog should not be considered as legal advice. Each individual case has different facts and circumstances. Therefore, if you need legal advice based on your experience, please consult a lawyer as soon as possible.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas