Content updated on January 9th, 2023.
The brain and spinal cord use nerves to carry messages to the organs, muscles and other parts of the body in a way that is similar to electrical wiring, and the structure of a nerve even resembles an electrical cable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains that the nerve consists of individual nerve fibers bundled together with an insulating ring of tissue covering and protecting it.
Car accidents can cause nerve damage in a number of ways, such as through whiplash that stretches and tears nerves, direct trauma to the nerve, or wounds that sever nerves.
Damage and regrowth
If a person experiences damage to a nerve, they may lose function or feeling in the area that sustains the injury. Particularly in the case of sensory nerve damage, a person must take extra care not to burn or cut the affected area because there is no pain response to warn of injury.
The damage may stretch or tear only the nerve fibers inside the insulation, which can prevent its ability to send or receive signals. In this case, the fiber closer to the brain remains healthy and the fiber on the other side of the damage dies, but new fibers may grow inside the insulation and heal the damage.
Some injuries cut through the entire nerve and sever the insulation as well. This typically requires surgery, or else as the new nerve fibers grow back, they may form into a neuroma, which is painful scarring. During surgery, the physician sews the ends of the insulation together so that the fibers may join as they regrow.
It may be necessary to delay the surgery until the skin has healed if there is a crush wound. Nerve grafts may be necessary if there is a gap between the severed ends.
Depending on factors such as age and health, a nerve may grow an inch per month. So, for example, someone who sustains an arm injury may not have feeling in the fingertips for a year after an accident.
The feeling of pins and needles is common as nerve damage heals, and although it can be painful, it generally indicates that recovery is progressing. People typically need physical therapy to keep the joints from becoming stiff, or they may not work even after the nerves have healed. Sensory input may be weak after healing, as well, and the brain may need re-education to begin feeling the affected area again.
Can You Sue for Nerve Damage After a Car Accident?
When you suffer nerve damage due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to recover compensation for your losses. Compensatory damages help injured victims cover the costs of their injury, including economic and noneconomic losses.
Economic damages represent financial losses directly related to your injury and include the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Property damage,
- Lost wages, and
- Future loss of earnings.
Because economic damages compensate you for monetary losses, you should keep records of all your injury-related expenses and losses. You can keep track of how much your injury has cost you by saving copies of medical bills, invoices, prescription receipts, pay stubs, and similar documentation.
Noneconomic damages compensate you for the psychological and emotional effects of your injuries and include the following:
- Emotional distress,
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent injury or disability,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Due to their subjective nature, these damages are difficult to recover without the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney. Despite these challenges, injured victims may find that noneconomic damages provide compensation for the unseen losses that have caused substantial disruption to their everyday life.
How Much is a Settlement for Nerve Damage
Various types of nerve damage injuries may result from car accidents. Because every injury is unique, potential nerve damage settlement values vary greatly. However, multiple factors can affect your possible monetary recovery. Your attorney investigates the facts surrounding your claim and determines how these factors may influence how much compensation you can receive from the at-fault party.
Severity of Injury
Generally, the more severe a victim’s injury is, the more compensation they can recover. The following factors are considered when determining the severity of an injury:
- The degree of physical pain,
- The extent of medical treatment needed,
- Whether an injury is permanent, and
- How the injury altered a victim’s life.
For example, someone who suffered permanent nerve damage causing chronic and permanent pain may recover more than an injured victim who suffered nerve damage that healed completely in a couple of weeks.
An injured victim who suffered nerve damage that required extensive medical treatment will likely receive a larger payout to compensate them for those costs. People who have suffered severe nerve damage injuries may require long-term post-injury treatment, including lengthy physical therapy and rehabilitation and multiple follow-up medical visits. You can be compensated for these long-term medical costs as well.
When the other party was clearly at-fault for a car accident, the injured victim often gets a larger settlement. Virginia operates under the legal doctrine of contributory negligence. That means an injured person who contributed in some way to their injuries cannot recover compensation, no matter how slight their contribution was. Without an attorney, you run the risk of losing the opportunity to recover compensation if the insurance company is able to establish that you contributed to your injuries.
With over 47 years of dedicated legal experience, The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC prioritizes the well-being and interests of our clients. Our impeccable reputation proves our steadfast commitment to advocating for injured clients in Virginia Beach and surrounding cities, including Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk and Portsmouth. At The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, we stand by you every step of the way to ensure your rights are protected as you focus on your recovery. Contact us today to receive a free consultation and find out how we can assist you.