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Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

September 15, 2023

One complicating factor sometimes involved in car accident personal injury claims is a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease after an accident. Imagine you’re living a normal life, but perhaps you wake up with a stiff back occasionally. You may not realize that it’s anything out of the ordinary, but then a traumatic car accident causes you to suffer serious injuries.

During your recovery, your back pain becomes severe and debilitating. Surely you can claim your back injury as part of your damages in the accident and receive compensation, right? But what if the doctor diagnoses the problem as degenerative disc disease? Did the accident cause the problem?

Chances are, the insurance company of the liable party will do its best to deny your claim for compensation for the back injury because degenerative disc disease is a pre-existing condition. But does that mean you have no option for recovering damages for the medical treatment your back pain requires?

Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a common problem associated with aging. Over time, the cushioning layers between the vertebrae of the back deteriorate due to dehydration of the gel-like layer in the nucleus of each cushioning disc. It may also occur when the outer edge of the discs cracks and allows the nucleus to bulge outward, thinning the cushion between the vertebrae.

An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from degenerative disc disease. While this condition results from the aging process, medical evidence shows that the trauma of a car accident has a substantially worsening effect on degenerative disc disease.

Can I Claim Damages for Degenerative Disc Pain After a Car Accident?

Insurance companies exist to make profits and prioritize these profits over payouts on car accident injury claims. When an accident victim receives a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease after the accident, the insurance company is almost certain to deny the claim unless an experienced car accident attorney in Seattle carefully constructs a compelling case for compensation.

In some circumstances, even accident victims with this pre-existing condition can recover damages associated with their accident-related medical treatment for back pain as well as an amount for pain and suffering. A well-executed demand letter from an attorney uses medical evidence to show the following:

  • The trauma of the car accident caused a sudden worsening of the condition
  • The accident caused the condition to become painful and debilitating when it wasn’t so before the accident occurred
  • The accident triggered the pain associated with the degenerative disc disease

Just because you have a pre-existing condition does not mean the accident didn’t have a significant impact on the condition, causing it to become painful when it might otherwise have remained undetectable for years.

What Damages Can I Claim for Degenerative Disc Pain After a Car Accident?

While the car accident didn’t cause your degenerative disc disease, you can show that it caused a sudden acceleration of the condition and associated back pain. If another driver’s negligence caused your car accident, they are liable for damages including the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses related to the worsened back condition and other injuries
  • Lost wages and future lost wages if you require physical therapy or surgery to address the back pain
  • Pain and suffering

Financial compensation for pain and suffering from degenerative disc disease may not erase the pain but it offers redress to victims of a preventable injury and opens doors to the best medical care for the condition.

Don’t go it alone against insurance companies that don’t have your best interests at heart. If a car accident triggered debilitating back pain due to pre-existing degenerative disc disease, you can still claim compensation for the damages.

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