Car accident after back surgery?

by Darrin
(Washington, NJ)

I was involved in a car accident 6 weeks after I had lower back surgery. I went to the ER the next day, after my neck got stiff and I had headaches. The X-Ray showed that I had whiplash. A few days later I started getting pain again in my lower back, down my left leg and upper back, as well as my neck, as well as constant headaches.

My doctor ordered a new MRI and compared it to the one before my surgery. The new MRI showed additional damage. My doctor said that I most likely will need another surgery, this time a spinal fusion between L4/L5. My concern is that I'm a technician and might not be able to continue with my current job after a fusion.

Can you give me an idea of what kind of settlement I might get if I sue? The other driver was at fault, he made a left turn in front of me. His insurance company agreed that he was at fault. But does this mean they will pay for all my future medical treatment for my back issues? How does this work? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Car accident after back surgery?":

Darrin (Washington, NJ):

You are in a precarious position. In most cases, an at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for a victim’s medical bills, therapy, lost wages, and pain and suffering. When the victim has a previous existing medical condition, the amount of compensation paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company mostly comes down to a doctor's medical narrative.

The narrative describes the existence of a new and separate injury due to the collision, or the percentage of exacerbation of the previous injury due to the collision.

Without an attorney, you can be confident the at-fault driver’s insurance company will say the accident resulted in only a mild exacerbation of your previous injury. The insurance company may even assert you were not injured at all in the collision. Instead, they may maintain your symptoms are entirely and exclusively related to your previous injury.

Under these circumstances, representing yourself would be ill-advised. You can be sure the at-fault driver’s insurance company will vigorously defend the claim, offering you a minimum of what your claim is really worth.

As the insurance company will vigorously defend your claim, an experienced personal injury attorney will vigorously pursue it. To help you decide whether or not you need an attorney, read this article and this one.

Gather your medical bills and records, receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses, and a letter from your employer verifying the amount of wages you lost during your treatment and recovery. An experienced injury attorney will be able to not only recover the above costs, but may also get a substantial amount for your pain and suffering.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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