Yes, car accidents can cause arthritis—and unfortunately, it’s a very common after-affect of many car accident injuries.
There are two main ways that a car accident can cause arthritis-related pain and damage:
- An injury from the car accident can cause arthritis (this is called post-traumatic arthritis).
- Injuries from the car accident can aggravate an existing arthritis condition.
Of course, there are more than 100 types of arthritis in all. Car accidents can cause many of them to get worse, or cause pain flare-ups and other symptoms. Any time this is triggered by the car accident itself, your accident claim should cover the costs related to your treatment. Insurance companies are not always quick to agree, however—be sure you have a good car accident lawyer on your case.
How does a car accident cause post-traumatic arthritis?
Post-traumatic arthritis is just a term that means arthritis caused by an injury. This usually involves an injury that affects a joint, such as the knee, ankle or wrists. These injuries are particularly common in motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and car accidents where someone isn’t wearing a seatbelt. However, they can happen in almost any car accident. One of the most common joint injuries, for example, happens when a driver braces their hands against the steering wheel during impact, injuring the wrist.
Anytime a joint is injured, there’s a risk of damage to the cartilage in the joint. Cartilage acts as your joints’ “shock absorber.” It’s a rubbery substance that allows joints to come together smoothly without the bones grinding against each other. Damage to the cartilage changes that, leading to a join that is stiff, sore and even painful. That’s post-traumatic arthritis.
This type of arthritis:
- Cannot be cured or reversed, although treatment can prevent it from spreading
- Will often get worse over time, either from using the joint or as you age
- Is directly caused by the car accident, and it should always be covered by your claim.
However, victims don’t always know right away that they have arthritis. Often, the initial joint injury heals and it takes time for the pain and stiffness of arthritis to set in. This is why it’s so important to have a good car accident lawyer from the start, so that your claim includes compensation for any long-term treatment you need.
How does a car accident affect an existing case of arthritis?
Many people already have arthritis. One of the most common forms is osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage wears away simply from overuse of a joint. Many people develop this as they get older, often in the knees. And even young people can have arthritis related to sports or past injuries.
When someone with osteoarthritis get in a car accident, there’s a risk that the accident will make it worse. Remember, arthritis means that joints cannot absorb shock easily. That means you have a higher risk of further injury to the joint. Even if there is no obvious injury, your arthritis may simply be worse or more painful afterward.
In Georgia, insurance companies will often try to deny this kind of claim. They will state that the arthritis is a pre-existing condition not caused by the accident. But if the accident made it worse, the law says the victim can recover money for treatment. After all, any new treatment you receive would not have been necessary if you had never been in the accident.
Your Car Accident Claim Should Pay for Your Arthritis
Victims of car accidents have a right to recover money for a number of arthritis-related losses:
- Time missed at work
- Inability to work again
- Medical costs such as physical therapy, surgery, injections, etc.
- The cost of medication such as anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Pain and suffering
This last one is often most important, because the pain and limited mobility of arthritis don’t carry a dollar cost, but they do take a toll on your life. In Georgia, the way the courts seek to make the accident right is to have the at-fault driver or their insurer pay money to the victim. In many car accident cases, the pain and suffering award will be the largest portion of the money you take home—and insurance companies will almost never offer the full amount you deserve if you don’t have a lawyer.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If you’ve developed arthritis after an accident, or the accident made your arthritis worse, you need to talk to an attorney. We can connect you with some of the top accident attorneys in Atlanta—and offer you a FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.