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Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

Colburn Law

Car accidents are very common in Washington state, often leading to painful injuries and serious property damage. You have the right to claim compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit for these injuries – but what happens if the car accident aggravates your pre-existing degenerative disc disease? Whether or not you knew that you had degenerative disc disease, this condition can make seeking compensation after a car accident even more difficult.

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease affects the spine. Our spines have 33 bones connected by ligaments and muscle tissue. To help absorb shock and prevent injury when we are moving, an intervertebral disc separates each one of these bones. When we move, the discs provide stability and flexibility.

Our discs are two-layer structures. The annulus is the outer layer, and is tougher and more fibrous than the inner layer, known as the nucleus. The nucleus contains gel and a high-water content, allowing us the flexibility to move our spines. Behind each one of these discs is a small gap of space where we find our spinal canal, which contains the nerves, blood vessels, and the spinal cord that helps connect our nerves to our brain.

Degenerative disc disease occurs when we suffer damage to this delicate, vital structure, either through age or an external trauma. You can develop this condition in one of two ways.

  • The annulus of the disc cracks and becomes too rigid, leading the nucleus to bulge out and compress the structures in the spinal canal.
  • The nucleus loses water molecules and becomes dehydrated, leading to additional pressure on the spinal cord that worsens over time.

A car accident may cause this condition due to traumatic force, but you may also have underlying degenerative disc disease that you were not aware of. In these situations, a car accident may aggravate your pre-existing condition.

Can You Collect Benefits If You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

You may not know you have degenerative disc disease until you visit a doctor after your car accident. The insurance company may use this information to deny or lower your settlement amount, stating that the cause of your back pain after the accident is this underlying condition. While you may have this condition, you may have not experienced any pain until the car accident – but these facts may not matter to the insurance company.

It is not in the insurance company’s best interest to provide you with the compensation you need to recover; they are the ones who have to pay the funds, after all. Because of this, claiming benefits with degenerative disc disease can be difficult – but it is not impossible.

You will need to contact a Seattle personal injury attorney with experience working with car accident cases to help prove your claim. Your attorney will have access to a number of resources and possess a range of skills that can help you collect compensation for your injuries.

  • Your attorney can launch an in-depth investigation into your claim, reviewing your medical records, interviewing witnesses, and researching your condition. You may not have the time or resources to conduct this investigation during your recovery.
  • To help further prove that your degenerative disc disease was a result of the car accident, your attorney can consult with a number of expert witnesses to build your case. These experts can perform accident reconstruction, consult on your medical records, and even provide testimony in a lawsuit.
  • You will need to negotiate with the insurance company to secure the settlement you need to recover. Since the insurance company may view your degenerative disc disease as an excuse to lower your claim, they may offer you an inadequate settlement. Your attorney will have the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to evaluate these offers and negotiate for a higher amount in your favor.

Degenerative disc disease and other pre-existing conditions can complicate insurance claims and lawsuits after a car accident, but compensation is still possible. A Washington accident attorney can investigate your claim and help craft a compelling case in your favor. Before filing your claim, contact a Seattle car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.