Bicyclists know to protect the brain at all costs when riding, but did you know the neck protects the information superhighway that leads to the brain?
The neck does more than hold up the head. It also safeguards the nerves that carry sensory and motor information from the brain down to the rest of the body. You can’t control your arms or legs or ride a bike without those nerves.
Bicycle Accidents Lead to Neck Injury
Any activity that uses the upper body and arms can lead to neck pain. Add in the violent impacts involved in some bicycle accidents and the results become more severe. A collision with a motor vehicle can send you into the path of another vehicle, into a stationary object like a road sign or telephone pole and finally to the ground.
Twisting and trauma can result in strains and sprains of the cervical spine (neck). When the impact is violent enough muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, discs, and nerves can be injured.
The neck is the most mobile part of the spine, but with the benefits of its mobility, it’s also prone to injuries from strains. A strain will damage muscles and ligaments. These strains are often referred to as soft tissue injuries. Victims will feel sharp pain, stiffness, and loss of range of motion when they move their head. Most cervical strains are treated with medication, a soft cervical collar, and with chiropractic treatment or physical therapy.
A cervical sprain is more serious than a strain. When you suffer a cervical sprain in an accident, you suffer damage to the ligaments and structures that connect the cervical vertebrae (spinal bones) and joints. It’s not unusual for neck strains and sprains to occur at the same time. Symptoms will be substantially similar to those of a neck strain. Treatment will also be similar to treatment for a neck strain.
Bones and Nerves
Most bicycle accident injuries are suffered over the top half of the body. That’s why it’s not unusual to see a neck fracture after a bike accident. Severe pain will probably be experienced at the location of the fracture. Surgery might be required to relieve pressure from a fracture of spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself.
Discs and Nerves
Between each cervical vertebra is a spinal disc. They’re made of cartilage, and they have a jelly-like substance inside of them that acts like a cushion when we walk or run. Trauma can cause a spinal disc to become displaced or even herniate (protrude through an abnormal opening).
When a disc herniates, the jelly-like substance inside of it leaks out and puts pressure on the spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself. In the case of a displaced or herniated cervical spine disc, the victim is likely to experience sharp neck pain going across the shoulder and into the arm to the fingers. He or she might experience intermittent periods of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected extremity. A displaced can be treated, but once herniated, it stays herniated. Surgery and extensive rehab are in order for most herniated discs.
What to do if you are in a Bicycle Accident in Los Angeles
If you’re involved in a crash and suffer neck pain, you should seek emergency room treatment immediately. You should also follow up on any treatment recommendations. The timeliness of medical care and treatment can be of great help in establishing the cause, nature, and extent of your neck injury.
You’ll need this evidence when you file a claim against the insurer representing the person who caused your accident. The lawyers for the insurance company will try to discredit your case by saying you are exaggerating your pain and discomfort. Don’t make any statements to those representatives. Just be prepared with the facts from your accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the Accident is Partly my Fault?
California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that if the other driver was even partially at fault then s/he must pay their portion of the damages. The accident could even be 99% your fault and you could still collect partial damages from the other driver. Talk to an attorney who knows the law and how to get you compensation even if you feel you were partially at fault.
What if my neck still hurts over a year after my accident?
Sometimes injuries take a long time to heal, and this is common for neck injuries. Keep in mind that in California you have two years to file a claim before you lose your right to compensation. An attorney will know how to file a claim to keep your case alive and then allow some time to heal so you will know the extent of your injuries.
Should I wear a neck brace if I hurt my neck in a bike accident?
Don’t allow any treatment for a bike accident without orders from a licensed physician. Putting on a neck brace when it hasn’t been prescribed by a doctor might harm your compensation case and possibly harm your neck even more. Get an attorney and follow his or her advice so you can get maximum compensation.
Contact a Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Los Angeles Bicycle Law is a personal injury law firm that specializes exclusively in representing injured cyclists. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base, and familiarity to handle bicycle accident cases with the utmost level of professional expertise.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Cyclists in Los Angeles or anywhere in Southern California who are injured by negligent drivers are entitled to a wide array of compensation. We will always offer you legal advice which is in your best interest.