Texas had a pedestrian fatality rate of 1.64 per 100,000 population in 2011, which was tied for number 12 in highest for the country. It had the third highest number of pedestrian fatalities overall.
Pedestrian accidents can lead to a variety of back injuries with different degrees of severity. The victims of these accidents, however, have legal rights that they can exercise to achieve financial compensation for their damages from an at-fault driver, such as one in violation of Texas’s pedestrian right-of-way laws.
Possible Back Injuries from Pedestrian Accidents: Herniated Discs
Because pedestrians have little to no protection if a car strikes them, these accidents can lead to serious injuries. Ruptured discs can occur even in low-speed pedestrian accidents.
The spine is made up of discs and vertebrae, among other important structures around the spinal cord. If a disc ruptures, the inner gel-like substance may spill out or bulge from the tear and press against the nerves around it. This leads to pain in many areas of the body. Some patients need expensive and time-consuming spinal fusion/discectomy surgery to remove the ruptured disc and fuse the vertebrae.
Possible Back Injuries from Pedestrian Accidents: Vertebra Fractures
Vertebra fractures are not uncommon after pedestrian accidents. As outlined by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are three types of fractures:
- flexion fractures: the vertebra breaks and compresses downward, resulting in loss of spinal height;
- extension fracture: this happens when a vertebra completely separates from that above or below it; and
- rotation fracture: the vertebrae rotate, which may lead to fracture dislocations where a vertebra moves off another, according to AAOS. This can result in compression of the spinal cord.
Surgery may be necessary to repair the damage and remove any stray bone fragments. Recovery may take several months in some cases, but in more serious cases paralysis and other spinal cord damage might occur. Of course, spinal cord injuries and paralysis can result from a pedestrian accident even if there are no fractures.
Other back injuries might include strained muscles and other soft tissue damage. These injuries may not require ongoing treatment, though patients should still visit their doctor after any accident and may have to miss time from work as they recover.
Pedestrian’s Legal Options
Pedestrians can file a claim against an at-fault driver after the accident. To win this lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent in the accident and this negligence caused injuries. Negligence generally means failing to provide reasonable care to prevent harm to others.
Injured pedestrians may pursue claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Texas requires that each driver carry $30,000 of bodily harm liability insurance. This may not be often not enough to cover the expenses from the accident, and victims may file claims with their underinsured insurance policy if available. If the driver was uninsured or drove off, pedestrians may be able to recover from their uninsured motorist coverage.
And, of course, injured pedestrians may pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if unable to recover adequate compensation via an insurance claim. Talk to an attorney to discuss each option that’s available to you. The Law Office of Julie Johnson is committed to protecting Dallas pedestrians after accidents. Call us today at 214-290-8001 or visit our contact page to set up your free consultation.