How a Car Accident Can Worsen a Degenerative Disc Disease Condition
A Traumatic Event, Such as a Car Accident, Might Exacerbate a Preexisting Degenerative Disc Disease Condition, Which Presents Some Unique Difficulties When Pursuing an Injury Claim in Pennsylvania
An automobile accident can have devastating effects on a victim, leading to a years-long recovery process that can interrupt a life and a person’s capacity to contribute productively to their family and society. Some accidents, though they may appear minor, can have destructive impacts on a victim because that person is at an elevated risk for injury due to a preexisting condition. One such condition is degenerative disc disease, or DDD. The primary cause of DDD is increased age, but car accidents can have an aggravating effect. If you have been in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to recover compensation for your economic damages, such as loss of work and medical expenses, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Contact our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Firm to learn how we can help you move forward with a personal injury lawsuit for the car accident that aggravated your DDD. Read on to learn more about degenerative disc disease and how it can be exacerbated by a car accident, as well as what your rights are when this happens to you.
Mechanics of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) in PA
Degenerative disc disease is a condition in which the discs of the spinal cord lose strength and structural integrity over time. Spinal discs are responsible for cushioning the space between the skeletal vertebrae. They prevent fractures and spurs that could be caused by skeletal material rubbing against or hitting each other. Due to the nature of the movement, the discs of the lumbar spine (low back) and cervical spine (neck) most often receive the debilitating effects of DDD.
The Progressive Stages of a Degenerative Disc Disease
DDD is a condition that occurs over time, usually affecting people over 45 years old or those who have placed extensive pressure on their back for movement. There are four progressive stages of DDD. During the first stage, dysfunction, the discs begin to lose cushioning and support, leading to mild pain and mild loss of mobility. In the second stage, dehydration, symptoms, and pain become more severe. In the stabilization phase, the skeletal structure attempts to make up for the loss of structure and functional support, and pain can become severe. In the fourth collapsing stage, the spinal disks have degenerated to dangerous thinness, and this can lead to collapse and nerve damage. At this point, DDD is most likely irreversible.
DDD is most commonly identified by an MRI scan. Certain symptoms, such as mild or severe neck or low-back pain, herniated discs, instability, or nerve damage, can point to DDD as a culprit for injury.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine and Preexisting Injuries
Degenerative disc disease is considered a pre-existing injury. However, an accident can aggravate or accelerate the issues associated with the condition. As such, the responsible party can be held liable for covering financial damages associated with an additional injury that the accident contributed to or the condition’s amplification.
An eggshell plaintiff is a personal injury victim in an accident whose preexisting condition made them more vulnerable to serious injury in a minor accident. In Pennsylvania, the party responsible for an injury accident cannot use the defense that their role in the accident would have caused less harm to a person with less vulnerability, absent their preexisting conditions. An eggshell plaintiff can recover damages related to their preexisting condition, including DDD, to the extent that the accident aggravated that condition.
Common Medications and Treatments to Ease the Pain of DDD
Strengthening exercises and physical therapy can help to mitigate some of the degeneration and associated pain. Additionally, medication can help with inflammation, which is one of the primary effects that causes pain and lack of mobility. Such methods can provide short- or long-term support.
Speak to Our Team of Personal Injury Lawyers About Your Claim for Accident Related Degenerative Disc Disease in Pennsylvania
One of the prime reasons it is important to have a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney on your side is as an advocate. If you seek compensation for your injury expenses and associated costs from the responsible party’s insurance company, they may try to convince you that you are not eligible to recover damages because your injury involves a preexisting condition. This is untrue, but many victims who are not familiar with the legal ramifications of such an accident walk away from full compensation.
Our team at Cohen & Riechelson has decades of experience successfully representing hundreds of clients in Levittown, Langhorne, Warminster, Doylestown, Bensalem, and throughout Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in their personal injury cases involving a preexisting condition such as DDD. Contact us today at (215) 337-4915 to learn how we can help you on your road to recovery.