Degenerative disc disease is a condition that refers to the breakdown of the discs between the vertebrae over time. Spinal discs are responsible for absorbing shock and cushioning the bones of the spine. Degenerative disc disease can happen naturally with age, but minor injuries can also cause this condition. Injuries can create tears in the outer wall of the spinal cord, where the spine houses nerves. These tears can be painful, and lead to a herniated disc down the road.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
One of the most significant risks with degenerative disc disease is a herniated disc. A herniated or bulging disc is a painful condition in which a disc between the vertebrae bulges out of its normal place, often due to tears or weakness in the surrounding structure. A bulging disc can allow vertebrae to rub together painfully. It can also encroach on the surrounding nerves, causing symptoms such as chronic pain, tingling, numbness, lack of sensation, and muscle weakness.
A herniated disc could arise after an auto accident. The risk of this injury increases if the victim has preexisting degenerative disc disease. Disc disease can weaken the spinal cord’s structure, allowing a disc to slip out of place more easily. The existence of degenerative disc disease prior to the accident, however, does not mean you will not have the right to claim compensation for your injury. You may simply need an attorney to help strengthen your case.
Degenerative Disc Disease and Insurance Claims
Many insurance companies will try to get away with denying a claim or offering less than the victim requires, when that case involves car-accident related degenerative disc disease. This disease’s connection to aging can make many victims believe they cannot seek compensation for it after an auto accident. This is not true. While it is possible to have degenerative disc disease prior to the accident, the force of the collision may have exacerbated the condition and caused pain that the victim did not experience beforehand. This makes it a compensable injury related to the crash.
Although most people will experience degenerative disc disease with age, not everyone will feel corresponding pain. An event that makes existing disc degeneration worse, however, could suddenly cause pain that did not exist before. You may not have noticed symptoms of your disease before an auto accident, but now you are experiencing pain and discomfort due to new tears in the spinal cord. You may go to the doctor and receive a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease, only to hear from the insurance company that you do not qualify for benefits because they consider it a preexisting condition.
If this happens to you, do not fear. The insurance company’s decision may not be final. Work with an attorney to prove that the auto accident caused or exacerbated your degenerative disc disease, using medical records and expert testimony. A skilled Long Beach auto accident lawyer can help you prove that your pain or a herniated disc is from the auto accident, not just from a preexisting condition. Your attorney can take over settlement negotiations with the insurance company, or even take your case to trial if negotiations are unsuccessful. Working with an attorney can ensure you do not miss any opportunities for compensation.
You Have Rights
Do not believe the myth that degenerative disc disease is a preexisting condition that cannot come from auto accidents. While most cases do arise naturally due to age, it is possible to acquire degenerative disc disease from accident-related injuries. More commonly, a car accident can exacerbate the symptoms of preexisting degenerative disc disease, causing problems you never experienced prior to the wreck. Speak to a Long Beach personal injury lawyer if you are suffering from symptoms of degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc after a car accident in Long Beach.