The presence of pre-existing spinal injury or disease historically has had a dampening effect on an accident victim’s potential for maximizing his/her claim of current loss. Often any pain or functional loss has been minimized or dismissed altogether by insurance companies in light of the pre-existing damage, even when the person reports an absence of pain and disability prior to the accident. In recent years, though, a number of medical studies have emerged, shedding new light and clearer understanding on the critical role that pre-existing spinal injury or disease plays on increasing the accident victim’s risk for sustaining greater injury and experiencing chronic and acute pain in the aftermath of another trauma.
Factors Placing the Re-traumatized Victim at Higher Risk for Greater Injuries
There are several factors conspiring to place an accident victim with pre-existing spinal injury or disease at higher risk for sustaining greater—and new—injury after suffering a second (or subsequent) trauma. These include:
- Loss of elasticity, flexibility and stability in tissues that have previously been damaged by disease or injury, resulting in their diminished capacity for tolerating, distributing and absorbing the physical forces that occur in an accident.
- Over-compensation by “motion” structures—muscles, ligaments, vertebra and joints—lying adjacent to damaged areas of the spine, resulting in increased strain, sprain and overall greater damage to surrounding soft tissue.
- Expansion of pain-carrying nerves deep into the interior of degenerated discs at a level typically not seen in healthy spines.
Activation of these pain-carrying nerves by a single traumatic event, even when the person may report having been asymptomatic and seemingly “recovered” from the effects of the prior injury or disease.
Cumulative Injury Versus Consecutive
Just a few years ago, a second or recurrent head injury or concussion was viewed as a consecutive, rather than a cumulative injury. There was little to no recognition that a subsequent concussion had cumulative, debilitating, permanent and sometimes even fatal consequences. We know better now due to numerous studies demonstrating the devastating effect of repetitive head trauma on football players, soldiers, and accident victims.
Similar research on the impact of pre-existing spinal disease or injury on the pain and disability stemming from recurrent trauma is now emerging. This research undermines long-held arguments that dismissed such symptoms as merely a manifestation or aggravation of prior injury or disease. Based on the mounting clinical and scientific evidence, we can now confidently counter that pre-existing injury or disease, in fact, predisposes the traffic victim to higher risk for incurring more extensive and new spinal injuries as well as chronic and severe pain and long-term disability.
An Enlightened Approach
If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own and have pre-existing spinal injury or disease, contact us. Don’t assume that just because you have had previous medical issues you’ll have less of a chance to recover the damages you deserve. Our Top 100 Trial Lawyers take tremendous pride in staying abreast of breaking medical and scientific research so that we can provide compelling and indisputable evidence as to why you should get maximum compensation and the justice you deserve. You need someone to listen and to provide intelligent answers, not be dismissed. You deserve justice, not excuses. Call us at: 314-409-7060 or 855-40-CRASH (toll free).