There are several types of personal injury cases. Some victims have amputated limbs, broken bones, bulging disks, pinched nerves, and, then, many have soft tissue injuries. What is a soft tissue injury case? Well, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a soft tissue injury is an injury to muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Most commonly after car wrecks, personal injury victims complain of pain in their neck or back. These symptoms are typically soft tissue injuries that are caused by a strain or a sprain of a muscle, ligament, or tendon in your neck or back that is commonly called whiplash.
The difficulty with this type of injury is that the jury can’t see it. Often, soft tissue damage will not be seen on X-ray or MRIs which makes it easy for the insurance company to argue that there is no injury at all. While your doctors will testify that just because it isn’t shown on an image doesn’t mean that it is not there, a jury is hard-pressed to believe what they cannot see for themselves. This is why broken bone cases are easier to prove than soft tissue cases.
Alternatively, the insurance company may argue that there was an actual injury but that your injury healed after 4-6 (maybe 8) weeks as many soft tissue injuries do. The insurance company will hire a doctor to come and testify that you should have been better within that timeframe and that if you were not better by then, you must have contributed to the long recovery.
There are several things that many personal injury victims do that play into one of these narratives spun by the insurance company. For example, many people think that they don’t need to go to the doctor for their neck and back pain because eventually, it will go away. Others think that, well, it isn’t that bad and it certainly won’t get any worse over time. We know this to be wrong as everything continues to degrade over time, including our bodies.
So what can you do to take your soft tissue injury case to the next level?
- Get treatment for your injuries upfront. You should go to the emergency room after the wreck to get checked out.
- If you are still hurting, follow up with your treating doctor. After a couple of days of pain, then you should follow up with your family doctor.
- If your family doctor isn’t able to help the pain go away permanently, then you should ask for a referral to an orthopaedic doctor. These doctors specialize in these types of injuries and are better equipped to help you heal.
- Your orthopaedic doctor will likely refer you to physical therapy to see if that helps. If it does, that is great! Remember, the key is to get better. If your physical therapy helps, then you are in a better position now than you were.
- If physical therapy doesn’t help, go back to your orthopaedic doctor for a follow-up. Your health insurance company usually will not pay for an MRI until you have completed physical therapy. If you are still not better, then your doctor can order an MRI that will show a lot more than the X-rays that don’t show much.
- Your orthopaedic doctor may recommend injections or surgery. Make arrangements to get these treatments as recommended by your doctor. If you don’t get these treatments, you won’t get better and you won’t recover everything you are entitled to in your personal injury case.
- This should go without saying, but I’ll say it: don’t miss any doctors appointments.
- If you are still not getting better, seek second opinions when you reach the end of the line with your first doctor. Go to a larger practice like UVA or Duke to see if there is anything they can do for you.
- Lastly, consider chiropractic treatment. Some people will have lifelong injuries that can only be treated by consistent chiropractic treatment. You won’t know if it will help you until you try. The frequency will be a lot in the beginning, possibly 3-4 times per week, but that will taper off as the treatments begin to work. Then, you can just come in as needed.
Every case is different. Your case is unique. You should consult an attorney early on this process to make sure you are doing everything you need to do to help progress your health and your case. These steps are just a few guideposts for things you should be thinking about during your recovery. I hope it helps you in your journey. If you need to contact me about your case, you can call or email me.
What do you think? Have you been through this process before? Are you aware of other things that you should be doing? Leave a comment below. I’d love to connect with you.