I was injured in a Tennessee car accident and my doctor says I have degenerative disc disease in my neck. Can I still recover for my injuries?
Posted in Car accidents on April 30, 2012
As a Nashville injury attorney, I have handled many cases where someone injured their neck in a car accident. These types of injuries can be associated with headaches, soreness, stiffness, arm pain and weakness. This is a common injury from a car wreck because the head and neck and not protected in a collision and take the force of the impact. For some, the pain goes away with rest, medication and physical therapy.
Sometimes, after a car wreck your doctor will order an MRI of the neck (“cervical spine”) if the pain does not go away. It is very common for the results of that test to show degenerative disc disease (sometimes listed a “DDD”). Insurance companies may use this condition to argue that you had this problem all along, well before the car collision. Many doctors will agree that degenerative disc disease is not caused by an automobile accident but rather due to age, like arthritis.
One study I have seen suggests 85 percent of people will have evidence of degenerative disc disease by age 50. Indeed, as we age, depending on activity levels and genetics, we all are subject to this condition. However, the key differential in an injury case is the fact that most people with DDD have no symptoms, no pain and no disability. A motor vehicle collision or work injury can aggravate, advance and make this condition worse. It can make it painful where there was no pain before. The impact can aggravate the condition to the extent that other medical treatments are necessary including traction, therapy, epidural steroid injections and even surgery.
In Tennessee, we have a specific jury instruction for pre-existing conditions. The at-fault driver is responsible for the pain and disability caused and made worse by the collision. Therefore, even if, like most people, there was DDD in the spine before the collision, the Defendant is responsible for the harm caused by the car accident. If there was no pain nor disability before the accident, the at-fault driver should not get credit for a dormant pain-free condition that is normal with age.
If you were in a car wreck or injured on the job in Tennessee and your doctor tells you have degenerative disc disease, then you need a personal injury attorney who knows the law in this area and understands how to educate a jury about why you are in pain. I have handled these types of car wreck cases in Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Nashville and all over Middle Tennessee. I am available to speak with you or we can meet for a free consultation about your rights. Call our office at 615-256-8880.