Yes. Herniated discs, and related bulging discs, can develop when there’s sudden trauma to the spine—such as what happens in a car accident. Herniated discs are particularly common in rear end collisions, but they can happen in any type of accident. They can also be extremely painful.
Be careful—if you have back pain related t a car accident, insurance companies are often eager to deny it. They may claim your pain wasn’t really caused by the accident at all, or that it was pre-existing. Do not take their word at face value. Always consult an attorney before you accept anything the insurance company offers.
What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is a condition that happens when there is a crack or tear in the outer wall of a “disc” in the spine. Discs are flat ring-shaped pieces of cartilage. There is one disc between every pair of vertebrae, and each one helps cushion the spine against shock or sudden impact. They also help give the back much of its flexibility, cushioning the vertebrae against each other.
But, while the outside of these discs is strong and rubbery, they have a soft center inside. And sometimes, a disc’s outer wall will crack or tear—often from an injury (such as your car accident). When this happens, the soft material inside starts to bulge out (bulging disc). If the inside ruptures out through the tear, it’s a herniated disc.
Herniated discs can happen suddenly, with no previous symptoms, or they can start as bulging discs and herniate over time. Herniated discs also tend to be extremely painful.
Car accidents can also make an existing herniated disc more severe and painful.
How do I get my car accident claim to cover my herniated disc?
Insurance companies are eager to turn down these kinds of claims. There are three main reasons they do this:
- They claim it was related to degenerative disc disease. This is a condition that can happen naturally as you age, and is not directly caused by car accidents—but can lead to herniated discs. Insurance companies will try to call it a pre-existing condition.
- They claim the herniated disc wasn’t really caused by the accident. The pain from a herniated disc can take weeks to develop. So you may have said you were fine after the accident, and only experienced the worsening back pain much later. Since you didn’t report any initial injuries, insurers will try to deny it.
- They claim you already had the herniated disc. That way they can say it’s not related to the car accident.
None of these arguments hold water. They’re all just tricks to get you to give up on your claim—especially if you don’t have a lawyer. The truth is a car accident can aggravate an existing herniated disc, or cause one if you already had degenerative disc disease. And that means the new pain or condition is caused by the accident—even if it developed slowly.
Never face this kind of claim without legal representation. A lawyer is the best way to make sure you get your back injury covered.
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