I can't tell you how often our St. Louis-based Missouri injury attorneys receive phone calls from good people hurt in bad automobile accidents. Of those phone calls, most involve some type of
claim for back, neck, or spine injury relating to the wreck. To even more specific, many victims report that they went to the emergency room on the day of the crash and were checked out by trauma staff for any fractures or serious injuries. Typically xrays are done to rule out any fracture. If a patient makes complaints of neck (whiplash) or low back pain, the hospital will typically classify that type of car accident injury as a "sprain" or "strain." So if you suffer from whiplash, the emergency room will classify that injury as a
neck sprain or
cervical strain, unless of course the xrays come back positive for fracture.
Patients suffering from these types of ailments will be discharged with papers from the ER that will usually say something like "MVA cervical strain", meaning "motor vehicle neck whiplash." What is the medical significance of this injury? Well it is hard to say immediately after discharge from the ER because patients are commonly prescribed Flexeril (muscle relaxant) or hydrocodone (narcotic pain releiver) and the muscles become somewhat dulled to the pain. This can cause a masking effect of the real injury and the patient can be under a false sense of recovery. This is yet another reason why it is a
big mistake to talk to an insurance claim adjuster to discuss the significance of your injuries. At this early stage there is just no way to know how badly you are injured from the car crash.
Neck sprain, lumbar strain, whiplash, etc, are all classified as soft-tissue injuries. Now don't be fooled into thinking that all soft-tissue injuries are minor. In fact, our lawyers have represented hundreds of clients with significant
soft-tissue injuries that have required extensive medical treatment to care for. Understand that hospital emergency rooms are there to diagnose and treat trauma. These busy facilities rarely classify a sprain or strain as a catastrophic injury, yet that should give you a sense of security that the injury is insignificant or will just "go away" with time. In fact, orthopedists and neurologists commonly agree that
car accident soft-tissue injuries such as herniated discs or "slipped discs" are actually permanent injuries that may become less painful with proper treatment and time, but will never completely "go away."
The xrays done at the emergency room only show bone and will not identifiy the extent of the sprain/strain. Only MRI, CT, and Myleogram will show your treating physician what kind of soft-tissue injury was caused by the wreck and how bad it is. For example, a herniated disc is something that can be classified as a neck sprain, yet it can lead to nerve root impingement and radicular-type symptoms, which include numbness and tingling in your arms and hands. These are significant injuries that all began with the simple diagnosis of a sprain or strain.
If you have questions about a car accident that caused neck sprain, lumbar strain, or other type of soft-tissue injury, contact experienced injury attorney Stephen Schultz and get his team of lawyers working to protect your rights. Now more than ever, car insurance companies
fight soft-tissue injury claims with a vengance. Why? Because for some reason insurance claims adjusters just don't understand that a neck sprain or lumbar strain can be a very serious injury, potentially requiring months or years of physical therapy or even surgery.