Nerve damage is often difficult to see, but accident victims will definitely be aware that something is wrong following a traumatic accident. At Powers & Santola, LLP, our New York personal injury lawyers can help anyone who has suffered injury in an accident. Just reach out and call today.
Nerve damage is a serious injury which warrants immediate medical treatment. Although some nerve pain is fleeting, any untreated nerve compression could lead to paralysis or permanent damage. Some of our clients have needed surgery to repair damaged nerves, or they have required grueling physical therapy to overcome the problem.
Have You Suffered Nerve Damage?
Certain injuries are visible following an accident, such as cuts or lacerations which cause a person to bleed everywhere. But the first signs of nerve damage are usually less dramatic:
- Numbness in a limb
- Muscle weakness
- Burning sensation
- Increased sensitivity
- Intense pain
- Sweating more than normal or less than normal
These are probably the first symptoms you will experience. Other people experience dramatic symptoms like paralysis or muscular atrophy.
You should go to the hospital if you feel any of these symptoms. Of course, there might be an innocent explanation for why you experience twitching or pain, and not all symptoms mean you have suffered permanent nerve damage. A doctor might order a neurological exam or an imaging test (like an MRI) to better understand the cause.
Which Accidents Cause Nerve Damage?
You could suffer nerve injuries in any type of traumatic accident:
- Dog bites. A dog’s sharp teeth can slice into nerves and damage them directly, or heavy bleeding can pinch a nerve.
- Product defects. A product that explodes could damage your nerves when small pieces of metal or plastic cut into the skin.
- Fires. Burns damage the nerves closest to your skin and possibly those located deeper inside the body.
- Car accidents. These are usually traumatic accidents which lead to a variety of injuries, such as whiplash. When soft tissue tears or stretches, blood pools into the area. But this inflammation also puts pressure on nerves.
- Slip and falls. This is another traumatic accident which can directly damage nerves. You could also break a hip bone, which could slice into nerves or cause massive bleeding.
In short, any accident could lead to nerve damage. Although some damage might be temporary, many people report feeling the symptoms of nerve damage days and weeks following an accident.
A Closer Look at Nerve Injuries
Nerve injuries vary in terms of severity. Whereas minor injuries could heal on their own with sufficient rest, others will require surgery and might never improve.
The medical profession has identified three degrees of nerve damage:
- Neurapraxia. The nerve does not work properly due to a temporary blockage. Because the nerve structure remains intact, patients can usually return to normal with sufficient rest.
- Axonotmesis. The myelin covering the nerve is usually damaged, along with the axon. This injury often leads to long-lasting and sometimes permanent sensory impairment. Axonotmesis can also impair motor skill.
- Neurotmesis. A very serious injury, neurotmesis involves a complete disruption of the nerve fiber. Without surgery, the injury is usually permanent.
Your doctor can perform the tests necessary to identify the full degree of damage suffered. A dog bite, for example, often leads to neurotmesis, because the teeth slice the nerve in two. But other accidents like falls or car accidents could lead to lesser damage.
Treatment & Compensation
Nerve injury treatment will depend on the cause of your injury. For example, if blood is pressing against a nerve, then reducing the swelling is the first line of treatment. A doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids, to keep pressure off the nerve. A doctor might also prescribe pain medication to relieve pain.
Some nerve injuries require surgery. For example, scar tissue or bone could press against the nerve, which will not respond to simple anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery can reduce scar tissue or create space for nerves. This surgery might be relatively minor or, if it involves the spinal column, could be a major medical procedure.
More dramatic surgery involves helping nerves regrow by removing damaged sections and reconnecting healthy nerve ends. A surgeon might even perform a nerve graft, which involves taking a nerve from a different part of your body and transferring it.
Nerve injuries typically require exercise, physical therapy, and possible electrical stimulation to aid in recovery. This medical care costs money—sometimes a considerable amount. Consequently, we see some nerve injuries which are relatively inexpensive, while others are major catastrophic injuries.
Emotional Distress & Physical Pain
Nerve injuries are often uniquely disabling. Many victims experience a major disruption in their daily lives due to the injury, and a meaningful settlement should include compensation for these losses.
For example, any nerve damage in the face could lead to droopiness and a complete change in your appearance. This type of injury can naturally lead to social withdrawal or embarrassment, and it might put a strain on your relationships. Nerve damage could also make it harder to talk, frustrating your ability to communicate.
Nerve damage can also lead to constant pain, which makes sleeping, working, and spending time with family impossible. Pain medication can help somewhat, but there are usually side effects from extended use of opioids and other painkillers.
Someone who negligently hurt you should pay fair compensation for pain and similar losses. Our lawyers know how to include a request for pain and suffering in our settlements.
Speak with Our New York Personal Injury Lawyer
Powers & Santola, LLP, can assist anyone who has suffered a nerve injury in an accident. Our experience is very broad and includes motor vehicle accidents, premises liability incidents, and dog attacks. We can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a valid claim for compensation. We will also negotiate with an eye toward getting you the most compensation you are entitled to under New York law. If you’re ready to find out more, please call us to schedule a meeting.