Smyrna Back Surgery Lawyer
Back Surgery Attorney Smyrna, GA
Your Spinal Cord
One of the common areas of the body that becomes injured in a personal injury accident is the back. These injuries are often life-changing, as they can cause chronic pain. Systemic pain affects how a person performs daily tasks in their life and how they work and play. When we talk about a back injury, we are of course referring to the spine, or spinal cord. The spinal cord is an elongated structure consisting of 33 vertebrae with tissue and nerves that connect the peripheral nervous system to the brain and is the pathway for messages sent by the brain to various areas of your body. Between the vertebrae are discs, or the body’s shock absorbers, that hold the spine together.
Areas of The Spine
Your spine consists of:
- Cervical spine with 7 vertebrae
- Thoracic spine with 12 vertebrae
- Lumbar spine with 5 vertebrae
- Sacrum and coccyx—the sacrum has 5 to 6 vertebrae and the coccyx has 3-5
If prior to your accident you already have what is commonly called a “degenerative disc condition” insurance adjusters or defense lawyer will argue that this pre-existing condition is the real cause of your pain and disability. Their job is to minimize your injury or escape full responsibility. As unfair as the insurance company’s argument may seem, you need the skilled services of a highly experienced Smyrna back surgery lawyer to help refute the adjuster’s argument.
Back Surgery Procedures
Not all back injuries require surgical intervention. In a motor vehicle accident, the victim may suffer injuries to the spine, especially in the cervical area. In a rear-end accident, the acceleration/deceleration nature of the injury is called “whiplash” since the force of the impact causes your neck and back to rapidly whip forward and then backward.
However, a whiplash injury can result in a ruptured or herniated disc wherein surgery will sometimes be required to alleviate the excruciating pain that can result. A disc herniation is where the soft, jelly-like substance between the disc is pushed out and irritates the surrounding nerves. A victim can experience muscle weakness, severe pain, or numbness, and be unable to work or engage in routine, daily activities.
Before surgery is recommended, an accident victim may undergo what is called “conservative medical treatment” which includes physical therapy, acupuncture, or corticosteroid injections. Surgery is a last resort. The neurosurgeon will remove the protrusion or the whole disc, though this latter option will require a disc fusion. Along with medical advice, it is always a good idea to reach out to a Smyrna personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options and protect your rights.
Back surgery is generally a recommended treatment when more conservative measures have not alleviated symptoms or improved your condition. You may consider back surgery if:
- Pain limits your enjoyment of life
- Neurological deficits such as numbness or leg weakness are not improving or are worsening
- You are experiencing loss of normal bowel and bladder function
- You have difficulty standing or walking
In herniated disc cases which can be caused by trauma from a car accident or fall, a disc laminectomy or decompression surgery may be required. This procedure removes the lamina or back part of the vertebrae that covers the spinal cord. The spinal canal is enlarged to relieve the pressure on the nerves from a ruptured or herniated disc.
A discectomy removes the herniated or protruding disc material pressing on a nerve and causing pain and numbness. Incisions are made posteriorly or through the back muscles
This is a major surgery that involves a bone graft to enable two vertebral bodies to grow together. The surgery can be initiated through the back, front, back and front, or from the side. In most cases, only one vertebral segment is involved. Minimally invasive procedures are now done routinely with microscopes used for surgical accuracy
Surgery for Paralysis Patients
A victim of severe trauma may experience paralysis, which may be a complete spinal cord – where the cord has been severed, or an incomplete one – where it was only partially severed. In the latter case, the individual retains some degree of mobility while a complete spinal cord victim does not below the area of injury.
Traditionally, surgery has not restored appreciable function to a paralysis victim, however, advanced nerve surgery techniques including nerve transplantation in hand and arm paralysis are being made.
Demonstrating the Necessity for Surgery
Any claim for damages in a personal injury requires that the victim prove all elements of the claim. This involves proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the duty of care was breached (violated), that the defendant’s negligent conduct was the proximate or legal cause of the alleged injuries, and that there were damages (e.g. an injured back.)
Even if liability is established, a defendant may try to claim that your injuries were pre-existing or minimally caused by the accident, or that your medical treatment was unreasonable or not related to the injuries you suffered in the accident. For example, if you had back surgery, then you must prove that the surgery was reasonably necessary for the injury you sustained.
Degenerative Disc Disease and Pre-Existing Injuries
In many back injury cases, the defense will claim that you had pre-existing degenerative disc disease and that the trauma was not the cause of your pain. If you had a prior record of back pain and treatment, then you should consider presenting evidence that prior to the accident you were fine and were living pain-free and it was the trauma that resulted in your pain and disability requiring surgery. An alternative is that the trauma substantially aggravated a pre-existing condition for which you are owed compensation. Your doctor should be able to testify that the surgery and your treatment would not have been necessary but for the accident.
Necessity for Expert Testimony
In most trials, your treating physician and surgeon are asked to testify about your injury, their clinical examination results, and their diagnosis and prognosis. Most physicians who are offered as experts or who treated you will be deposed by either party. This gives the parties the opportunity to discover what the witnesses will be offering as testimony at trial. Georgia allows doctors to testify through what is called a “medical report.” The testimony of a physician can be introduced at trial through a narrative report. O.C.G.A. § 24-8-826. The report must contain the examination, history, diagnosis, treatment, interpretation of test results, and prognosis.
Contact an Experienced Smyrna Back Surgery lawyer
Back injury cases can be as complex as any other personal injury claim. An experienced Smyrna back surgery lawyer should handle your claim from its outset, to make sure all the elements of your claim are proven and that you receive the compensation your claim deserves. Contact the legal professionals at Tobin Injury Law for skilled guidance. We are available 24/7 to take your call. Reach out to us at (404) 665-9665, by email, or fill out our convenient online form below.