The spinal cord is a delicate system of bones (vertebrae), nerves, disks and soft tissues. In a car accident, the back, neck and spine can suffer serious injuries due to the gravitational forces exerted on a victim’s body. Depending on the location and severity of the spine injury, the victim may become paralyzed. If you are diagnosed with a spinal cord injury after a car accident in New Mexico, here’s what you need to do to protect yourself.
Limit Your Movements
First, do your best to protect yourself physically by limiting your movements after the crash. In some cases, permanent damage can be prevented by stabilizing the spinal cord immediately. Sitting up abruptly, moving the wrong way or twisting your spine right after a car accident can put you at risk of a more severe spine injury, including permanent nerve damage or paralysis.
If you have to move after an accident for your own safety, do so. Otherwise, if you notice any back pain, stiffness, numbness or tingling, stay as still as you can until paramedics arrive. Keep in mind that you may have adrenaline pumping through your veins from the car accident that could mask pain and injury symptoms. Overall, it is in your best interest to stay calm after an accident and restrict your movements until you can see a doctor, even if you initially feel fine.
Call for Paramedics
Call 911 from the scene of the accident and tell them you think you might have a back or spine injury. The police will send an ambulance and paramedics to the scene to assist you. Paramedics will put you in a special brace to restrict your movements, stabilize your spine and minimize the risk of further injury.
At the hospital, tell them what happened and explain that you were involved in a car accident. After listening to your symptoms, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and may recommend further tests to diagnose a spine injury, such as x-rays or an MRI. After being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, you will need to spend time in the hospital receiving treatments and therapies.
File an Insurance Claim
New Mexico is a fault state. This means that after a car crash, the insurance company of the at-fault driver pays for damages. You should always report a car accident to an insurance company right away. When dealing with an insurance company, keep information about your spinal cord injury to a minimum. Answer the questions asked, but do not elaborate or embellish your answers. Stay concise to avoid saying something that could hurt your chances of being paid benefits.
Wait for Your Point of Maximum Medical Improvement
Before continuing with the claims process and accepting an insurance settlement, make sure you have reached your point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which your doctor does not expect you to heal any further. Settling prior to your point of MMI means that you may not understand the full extent of your spinal cord injury and how much it will cost you – putting you at risk of accepting less than you need.
Contact a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer for Help
A car insurance company may try to take advantage of you during a spinal cord injury claim. When it comes to payouts for catastrophic injuries, insurers tend to protect their bottom lines more than their clients. You can trust a car accident lawyer to accurately assess the value of your claim and fight for maximum financial compensation.
A lawyer can determine the cause of your accident and help you prove that the defendant is at fault. Then, your lawyer can negotiate with an insurance company to achieve the best possible case results on your behalf. If an insurer does not offer a fair settlement for your spine injury, a lawyer can take your case to trial in New Mexico. For more information about what to do after a spinal cord injury, contact The Fine Law Firm at (505) 889-3463.