Can a Car Accident Cause Scoliosis?
Fact checked by Clayton Hasbrook J.D. | Updated on April 26, 2016
A car accident can cause debilitating back and spinal injuries, including a curvature of the spinal column known as scoliosis. If you or one of your loved ones recently suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash, we may be able to help you get compensated for your medical bills, the earnings you’ve lost, and other expenses caused by the accident. If you’ve sustained a serious injury, you deserve the benefit of skilled legal representation to help you evaluate your options.
What is Scoliosis? Can it Be Caused by Physical Trauma?
The spinal column consists of 33 bones called vertebrae which protect the underlying spinal cord, a sensitive bundle of nerves traveling from the base of the brain to the coccyx (tailbone). Normally, the spinal column forms a straight line, providing support and helping us hold our bodies upright. Scoliosis occurs when the spinal column is bent to the side, forming more of an S- or C-shape than a straight vertical line.
Some types of scoliosis are caused by medical disorders or are present from birth, such as congenital scoliosis, which is caused by skeletal abnormalities, or idiopathic scoliosis, which scientists believe is inherited. However, scoliosis can also be caused by trauma, meaning a physical impact resulting in injury. (For example, traumatic brain injury describes damage caused by a blow to the head, as opposed to damage caused by disease or infection.) Scoliosis caused by blunt force trauma or other physical injuries is called degenerative scoliosis.
How is Spinal Curvature Diagnosed and Treated?
If you experience any pain whatsoever after a car accident, you should schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible, ideally within the first 72 hours of the crash. What starts out as an annoying twinge can develop into excruciating pain within days or even hours. If you delay seeking medical care, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may cite your delay as an excuse to downplay the severity of your injuries and deny proper coverage.
It’s also very important that you hold onto any documentation resulting from doctor’s appointments and other medical care, such as copies of prescription slips. Medical evidence can help to establish not only that your injuries were severe, but that they were actually caused (or aggravated) by the accident. (For more information on this topic, see our article on what happens if a car accident aggravates an existing injury.)
Because scoliosis affects the vertebrae, your doctor will likely want to perform an X-ray to see whether there is any structural damage to your spinal column. While squishy, gel-filled cushions called discs function as shock absorbers to some extent, a crash can easily cause these discs to bulge (called bulging disc) or rupture (called herniated disc), which may or may not be accompanied by vertebral fractures. Left untreated, these issues can cause chronic pain and affect the normal curvature of the spine.
The treatment for scoliosis depends on the severity of the damage and resulting pain and impairment. You may have to wear a back brace, see a chiropractor, or undergo surgery. Bulging discs, herniated discs, and broken vertebrae are all common examples of car accident back injuries that can require surgery.
Contact an Us Today
A serious back injury can leave the victim immobilized and bed-bound while the damage heals. This has a two-fold financial impact. Not only does the injury victim miss out on income while they are in recovery; they are simultaneously burdened with astronomical medical bills which can easily climb into the tens of thousands of dollars. If there are any complications, the medical costs skyrocket even higher as additional procedures and treatments become necessary.
The good news is that you may be able to get compensation from the driver who hit you, or, to be more specific, the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Oklahoma requires all drivers to carry, at bare minimum, $25,000 in coverage for property damage, $25,000 in coverage for personal injury or wrongful death (per person), and $50,000 in coverage for personal injury or wrongful death (per accident). (For more information on Oklahoma auto insurance requirements and uninsured drivers, see our article on what happens if you get into a car accident without insurance.) If negotiating with the insurance company fails, you may want to think about filing a personal injury lawsuit as an alternate method of pursuing fair compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
If you or one of your family members sustained a back or spinal cord injury in an automotive accident, don’t assume you are stuck paying for the expenses on your own. You may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your family’s next steps after a serious car accident, call the crash crash attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 right away. We’re here to help you and your loved ones explore your options, including late nights and weekends. Our legal team serves Oklahoma City and the surrounding communities, including Edmond, El Reno, Tuttle, Norman, Shawnee, McLoud, and more.