Philadelphia Neck Injury Attorney
In thirty-five years of handling personal injury cases, the most common injury that I see as a result of an accident, especially automobile accidents, is an injury to the cervical region of the body. Typically, a neck injury starts out as symptoms of neck tenderness and restriction of turning the head to one side or the other. Most neck injuries are diagnosed as a cervical sprain and strain. Doctors usually recommend a course of physical therapy consisting of massage treatment, heat, moisture and stimulation over the course of approximately three (3) months to treat the cervical sprain and strain injury. If the physical therapy does not resolve the cervical symptoms within three (3) months, a doctor may continue to prescribe physical therapy for an additional three (3) months. However, most sprain and strain injuries start to see improvement within three (3) months. If the injury is not improving after 3 months, an injured person should push the doctor to order an MRI to determine whether the neck injury is more than a sprain and strain such as a bulging disc or a herniation. A doctor may not change the course of treatment even if there is a herniation but at least he will know what he is dealing with. If a herniation is diagnosed, it certainly adds significant value to a personal injury case, if the herniation can be causally related to the accident. Even if the MRI shows normal results, there are other tests that might explain the ongoing cervical pain especially if that pain radiates into the shoulder and arms. An EMG determines whether certain nerves are being compressed in the spine. If the EMG test is abnormal, it can also explain why the pain is radiating into the extremities.
If your car insurance company is paying for your medical treatment and the treatment consists of physical therapy related to a sprain and strain injury, the automobile insurance company will try to cut off their obligation to pay medical benefits if the physical therapy treatment extends beyond six (6) to nine (9) months. It is the insurance company’s position that a sprain and strain injury should have resolved within that time frame. Fox Law has faced this issue on numerous occasions and knows how to deal with the insurance company’s position. If the injury is not resolving, it is important that the client be seen by an orthopedic doctor or a neurologist. Usually, the next course of treatment for a cervical injury is the administration of trigger point injections or cervical epidural injections. The trigger point injections are shots into the affected area. They are not that invasive. A cervical epidural injection is surgical procedure involving the insertion of a long needle into the cervical area that the doctor has pinpointed as the cause of the pain. Cervical epidural injections do not always work, but is one of the few options remaining, before considering cervical fusion surgery.
If physical therapy, trigger point injections, and cervical epidural injections do not work, then it is paramount for the client to discuss the remaining options with an orthopedic surgeon. I have had many cases where my clients have exhausted all forms of conservative treatment and are still in extreme pain, which is keeping them from functioning on a daily basis. At this point, they are often willing to undergo cervical surgery. I always tell my clients that you will know when it is time to have cervical surgery. It is when the pain is so persistent and relentless, and has been ongoing for a extended period of time, that the decision to have surgery becomes more clear. It goes without saying that the value of your case substantially increases if you are required to undergo cervical surgery. Hopefully, the surgery will result in a relief of your symptoms but the recovery time from cervical surgery is at least six (6) months to a year. In addition, cervical surgery usually leaves a significant scar either in the front of your neck or the back of your neck depending on which way the doctor enters the cervical area for the surgery. Because Fox Law has handled hundreds of neck injury cases, Fox Law works with the physical therapy centers, and the orthopedic doctors and the neurologists, to fully develop your injury claim. This is important, because all of the medical providers will need to write narrative reports describing the treatment, the injuries caused by the accident and the prognosis. Good narrative reports are presented to the insurance company for their review and are extremely helpful in the adjuster’s valuation of the case.
In summary, when an accident occurs and a client feels pain in their neck, immediately after the accident, it is difficult to know what the length and course of treatment will be one day after the accident. The course of treatment will evolve over time depending upon the subjective complaints and objective findings by the doctor. It is extremely important, and I stress to my clients, that they should not delay treatment for a neck injury after the accident occurs, thinking that it will resolve in a few days. A delay of treatment even for a week to ten (10) days will cause the insurance company to doubt your claim.
The value of a neck injury claim cannot be known until the neck injury is fully resolved and understood. Therefore do not put yourself in a position where the insurance company will doubt your claim because you delayed treatment. To maximize the value of your neck injury or whiplash personal injury claim, speak with a Fox Law Philadelphia neck injury attorney immediately after an accident.
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