IT’S OFTEN POSSIBLE TO SUE FOR BACK INJURIES
If you are wondering “Can I sue for my back injuries,?” the answer, like so many answers in law, is “it depends.” When a back injury is caused by the negligent, reckless or intentional acts of another person, it is often possible to make a successful case. If the accident happened at work, you generally cannot sue your employer, but there are exceptions. Let’s look at different scenarios where it possible, and not possible, to make a case.
HOW SERIOUS IS THE INJURY?
It’s not possible to bring a lawsuit where the only evidence is subjective complaints of back pain. If you went to the hospital after the accident and complained about back pain, that’s a good start, even if the X-rays were negative for fractures. Many serious back injuries cannot be diagnosed with an X-ray, but an MRI can show injuries such as bulging and herniated discs that could be causing the back pain. It’s important that you see a medical doctor to diagnose your back pain, treatment only with a chiropractor will be less impressive in a law suit. The medical doctor, usually an orthopedist will usually initially prescribe chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy. When therapy is not successful, doctors may recommend pain management treatments or surgery. Doctors can also measure your limitations in range of motion to substantiate your injuries. If you have received positive testing and had treatment for your back pain, it’s worth investigating the facts of your accident to see if you can sue to collect compensation for your pain and suffering.
BACK INJURIES CAUSED BY TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
There is usually a police report for a traffic accident, so it is usually pretty easy to get an understanding of how the accident happened and who was at fault. Sometimes a traffic accident involves multiple vehicles and will require an accident reconstructionist to determine the cause. There is usually somebody at fault in a traffic accident, and it usually a negligent or reckless act that caused the collision. Car accidents are rarely intentional acts. In New York, in order to make a claim for personal injuries, you must at least sustain a serious permanent injury, or a non-permanent injury that results in the loss of 90 days of work. It’s not possible to sue for minor injuries.
If you injured your back while driving, it’s going to be necessary to show that another driver, a road defect or a cause other mostly the cause of the accident. If you are hit in the rear while waiting at a light, making a claim against the offending vehicle will be straightforward. If it’s an intersection accident, it’s not always so clear, as many police reports will have both drivers claiming that the other one went through the light. If the other car had the stop sign, they will claim you were speeding. There are many different sets of facts, but as long as there is evidence that the accident could be at least 50% the fact of another person, it would be worth making a claim for serious back injuries. There are also possible claims against The City of New York for broken traffic signals and defects in the road.
Passengers with back injuries can sue both the driver of the car they were in and other vehicles, so a claim can be made for passengers regardless of how the accident happened.
Pedestrians do have some responsibility to cross in crosswalks and obey traffic signals for crossing. If you were crossing the street responsibly, you can make a claim against a vehicle that hit you.
Bicyclists are also responsible for following the rules of the road. The most frequent cause of accidents for bicycles are road defects, followed by collisions with motor vehicles and other bicycles.
BACK INJURIES CAUSED BY SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
There is no law that limits suing for minor back injuries, but it still doesn’t make sense to sue for injuries that are trivial or resolve quickly. Sidewalk fall cases often involve the City of New York and municipal litigation for minor injuries, while not barred, is not cost-effective. When you slip and fall on private property, or on a sidewalk adjacent to a home or business, you need to prove that negligence, not your clumsiness caused the fall. There must be a “defect” and the person or entity responsible for the property must have had reasonable notice of the defect. For example, if you slip on water in a supermarket, you will need to prove that the water was there long enough that employees should have seen it and mopped it up. You cannot sue for slipping on snow during a storm, the owner must have a reasonable amount of time after the snow stops to shovel it.
BACK INJURIES CAUSED BY ACCIDENTS AT WORK
Workers Compensation is the “exclusive remedy” for accidents at work, but there are exceptions that may apply. See Construction Accidents and Workers Compensation for more information.
BACK INJURIES CAUSED BY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Some medical procedures, when done improperly, can cause back injuries. If your back injury began severe after undergoing a medical procedure, you should discuss the facts with a medical malpractice attorney. If you had back surgery, and your back pain was much worse after the procedure, you might also have a claim.
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