I Got In A Car Accident And My Back Hurts, What Should I Do?

A car accident can be a frightening, disorienting experience, especially if you suffered an injury as a result. If you were in a crash and are now experiencing back pain, follow these steps.

Do I need medical care?

You should seek immediate medical care if you have back pain following a car accident. Visit a doctor or the emergency room for an evaluation of your back, making sure your physician documents all symptoms and signs of injury. Make sure your medical records state that the reason you are there is for evaluation of back pain following the car accident. This will be your proof that the car accident was the cause of your back pain and not merely coincidental.

What if I felt fine at the scene of the accident?

Often, back pain does not show up at the scene of the accident. If you denied having injuries at the scene or refused medical treatment, it may be challenging to link your back pain to your accident. This is why it is important to visit the doctor or emergency room as soon as you experience discomfort and to make sure your doctor includes the date of the car accident in your medical history.

For example, Alan was in a car accident. He felt fine at the scene but woke up the next day with severe back pain. Instead of going to the doctor or emergency room, he tried to tough it out by taking over-the-counter medications. Finally, two weeks later, he went to the doctor and received a diagnosis of a dislocated vertebra.

Because of the delay in diagnosis and treatment, he also suffered complications and will not have an optimal recuperation. The insurance company denied coverage for Alan’s injury, claiming they were not caused by the car accident. Alan is now facing a stack of medical bills without the money to pay them.

On the other hand, Bernard was in a car accident, felt fine at the scene, but woke up the next morning with serious back pain. He immediately went to the emergency room, underwent a thorough medical evaluation, and received a dislocated vertebra diagnosis. His doctor treated his dislocation at once and Bernard recuperated quickly. His medical records clearly linked the back injury to the car accident. The insurance company did not fight Bernard’s lawyer on their claim and he received full compensation for his injuries.

What if I do not follow my doctor’s orders?

If you do not follow your doctor’s orders to mitigate your back injury, the insurance company may refuse to pay the full amount of your damages. Furthermore, any recommended treatment that you opt out of will not appear in the total calculation of your damages. If you postpone a treatment and reverse your decision later on, you will have to pay for it yourself. The insurance company will not give you more money after you settle your injury claim.

By way of example, Mary suffered a back injury in a car accident. After the initial medical procedure to treat the back injury, Mary’s doctor sent her to physical therapy. She found the physical therapy to be painful, exhausting, and time-consuming, so she did not complete the prescribed regimen. She settled with the insurance company. A few months later, she decided to try physical therapy again to relieve her chronic back pain. The insurance company refused to pay for the physical therapy because Mary had already settled her damages claim with them.

What else do I need to do after an accident?

Tennessee law requires that you file a report with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security if you are the owner or driver of a vehicle involved in a crash that resulted in an injury, death, or property damage of more than $400. This requirement is not satisfied by the police report of the officer at the scene of the accident. You must submit the report within 20 days of the crash. Failure to do so can result in the suspension of your driver’s license and registration.

This report may help you recover damages for your back injury by providing another piece of evidence linking your injury to the car accident.

What if I was partly at fault in the accident?

Tennessee follows a modified comparative fault law, which allows you to receive compensation for your injuries as long as you were less than 50% at fault in the wreck. The law reduces the amount of your recovery by the amount of your own negligence.

For example, Tim and Joe were in a car accident. Tim was speeding and Joe ran a red light. Tim was 20% at fault, while Joe bore 80% of the blame for the crash. Each has $10,000 in damages. In this case, Tim’s receives 20% less in damages—totaling to $8,000—due to his own negligence. Joe will not be able to recover anything from Tim because he was more than 50% at fault in the accident.

Should I consult a car accident lawyer?

If you suffered a back injury after a crash, you should contact a lawyer immediately. A car accident lawyer can help you with all aspects of your case, including filing your accident report with the state. It is essential that this form is accurate and filed within the 20-day deadline. Any mistakes or missing information may hurt your claim for damages and delay your recovery.  

A car accident lawyer can also investigate the scene of the accident and collect the evidence needed to prove your claim. It is important that your lawyer is able to do this quickly, since evidence can deteriorate or even disappear if you wait too long. Skid marks will fade and disappear. Government agencies can correct road hazards after the accident. Eyewitnesses can become hard or impossible to locate. The sooner you talk with an attorney, the better.

If you have suffered a back injury in a car accident, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC can help. We offer experienced and compassionate legal advice and we will keep fighting until we get you everything you deserve. Call us today at 865-546-1111 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.