Spine Damage in Truck Accident Brings Life-Long Pain

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Our clients were seriously injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a semi truck driver. The truck slammed into the rear of our clients’ vehicle at approximately 55 to 60 mph. As a result of the collision, our clients suffered injuries to their cervical and lumbar spine requiring serious medical treatment. One client has undergone an anterior cervical fusion from C4 to C7, which her physician has unequivocally attributed to the car accident. The other passenger has undergone physical therapy, and plans to continue with spinal injections. Both clients suffers mild head injuries resulting in a diagnosed mild traumatic brain injury.

Details of the Semi-Truck Crash

​On June 24, around 5:30 p.m., our clients were heading east on 1-264 in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They had come to a complete stop in the far right lane, waiting to merge onto I-71 North.

A truck driver who failed to notice the stopped traffic was traveling at a high rate of speed toward the interchange. As he approached the interchange, the vehicle in front of him switched lanes. However, due to his excessive rate of speed, the truck was unable to stop and collided with our client’ stopped vehicle.

The truck slammed in the rear of our clients’ stopped vehicle at an estimated speed of 55 to 60 miles per hour, according to the police report. Further, the police report cited the truck driver for failing to have his vehicle “under proper control.” The report described the damage to the cars as “severe” and “very severe.” Our clients’ vehicle was forced into the car in front of them and spun completely around on the roadway.

Medical Treatment

​Immediately following the accident our client complained of serious pain in her neck and lower back and dizziness. Louisville Metro EMS responded to the scene and had to use heavy equipment to remove the passenger side door in order to extract her from the vehicle. Her neck was stabilized with a cervical collar and she was placed on a longboard with straps and head blocks. She had a slight loss of consciousness at the scene.

​Our client was transported to the ER at Norton Brownsboro Hospital for evaluation and treatment. She was diagnosed as having a mild concussion and as having cervical and lumbar strain. She was prescribed hydrocodone and naproxen and told to follow up with her family physician—which she did the following day. He recommended that she begin physical therapy and have a follow-up MRI to monitor the concussion.

She began therapy at Apex Physical Therapy for her neck and back twice a week. Throughout her treatment, she complained of serious pain in her cervical spine and lower lumbar region. Further, she repeatedly experienced painful headaches, dizziness, and pain in her right shoulder. Her records reflect that she lost flexion and extension ranges in her cervical and lumbar spine following the accident, and these problems intensified over time.

Several weeks later, she went to Baptist Hospital East to undergo a round of CT scans on her head and cervical spine. The CT scan of her cervical spine demonstrated a posterior disk bulge at the C3-4 level. At the C4-5 level, her doctor noted a posterior disk bulge and narrowing of the thecal sac. The C5-6 juncture demonstrated a protruding disk with spur formation abutting the spinal cord and contributing to disk narrowing.

With therapy no longer controlling her pain, she was referred to River City Orthopaedic Surgeons. Clinical evaluations demonstrated that her flexion and extension ranges were diminished by 30 percent. It was decided that she would undergo facet and epidural injections at the C5-6 and C6-7 level.

Her doctor ordered an MRI to compare with the CT previously taken. This comparison demonstrated a moderate sized broad-based disk protrusion that indented her anterior thecal sac and displaced the spinal cord at C5-6 level.

A few weeks later she reported to Norton Audubon Hospital to undergo facet joints injections at the C5-6 and C6-7 level of her cervical spine. She returned to follow-up with her surgeon where evaluations revealed that she had a diminished discal height of at least 50 percent. It was also determined that she had experienced an allergic reaction to the facet injections. It was decided on this visit that she would try to treat her neck and back with ice, massage, and general traction and reevaluate at her next appointment. If no improvements were achieved after that period, she would be looking at surgical neural decompressions and cervical stabilization surgery.

Three months later she met with her doctor to discuss the possibility of undergoing a cervical fusion procedure. She could no longer tolerate the daily pain and restrictions imposed on her due to the serious nature of her neck injury. After evaluating her and reviewing her file he attributed her problems to the car accident.

A few weeks later she underwent an anterior cervical decompression and fusion from C4 to C7 at Norton Hospital. An incision was made on the anterior aspect of her neck, and bone, disk, and ligament were removed and replaced with three prosthetic spacers at the designated disk levels. After the procedure was performed she spent a day in recovery at the hospital and upon release was advised to follow up with her surgeon in four weeks or call if problems arose. In the meantime she was to spend the month recovering with little physical activity.

She remains at home recuperating from her surgery, and has yet to return to her previous activities of daily living.

Medical Treatment for the Second Passenger

​Immediately following the accident, our other client was seriously concerned for his wife’s wellbeing. He went to the hospital with his wife, but did not want to be checked out because he did not want to leave her side. Unfortunately, in the days following the motor vehicle accident he experienced the onset of serious pain in his cervical and lumbar spine. He reported to Norton Medical Associates just days after the car wreck, where it was determined that he was suffering from whiplash due to the impact of the car accident. He was told to return for further evaluation if the symptoms persisted.

​He returned to Norton Medical Associates a few weeks later complaining that he was still experiencing pain in his neck when turning his head from side to side and was having difficulty sleeping at night due to the pain. He was prescribed Ambien to help with sleep.

​​He reported back to Norton Medical Associates two months later complaining of ongoing neck pain. The doctor at Norton Medical ordered physical therapy to help alleviate the neck pain. He reported to KORT for physical therapy one week later for treatment of his cervical and lumbar spine, and he maintained a physical therapy schedule for several months.

Even after physical therapy, he continued to experience pain in his lower back, so our client underwent a lumbar MRI at Norton Hospital. The MRI revealed that he had a disc bulge at the L4-5 level, with narrowing of the spinal canal. Due to the ongoing pain, he went to see his wife’s surgeon who suggested that he undergo a round of facet injections to treat the bulging disk at the time. He elected to hold off on the injections until his wife’s surgery and her full recuperation so that he could best assist her at home.

The Aftermath of Continuing Pain

​Our clients live in continuous pain following the accident. She has undergone a very painful cervical fusion and is still recuperating. Her cervical range of motion was significantly diminished and has continued to suffer from headaches.

​Her daily life has radically changed due to the injuries she sustained in the accident. Prior to the accident, she managed the family’s farm property. She was also an avid horseback rider and gardener before the accident. Due to her head and neck injuries, however, she is unable to enjoy working with her horses and managing her garden and farm property. She has not been able to ride her horses since the accident because the jarring impact initiates her cervical pain and headaches. Further, she can no longer spend time gardening because bending over and getting on her knees aggravates her injuries. Lastly, she is no longer physically capable of mowing her fields, baling hay, or feeding her animals as she previously did. In light of her injuries, she is incapable of enjoying the farm lifestyle she was accustomed to, and she and her husband may need to sell the farm.

​She also previously enjoyed sewing and quilting when she wasn’t caring for her animals and property. However, she now experiences difficulty remaining seated for long periods of time with her head down. Further, she used to walk between two and four miles a day, which she is unable to do now because of her neck and head pain. Since the accident, she has also experienced great difficulty sleeping, leaving her feeling tired and fatigued in the morning. She is unable to clean house, use the computer, or prepare meals as she used to due to her significant pain levels. Even the simple task of drying off after her shower is painful. Driving has also become painful, and she has had difficulty making the hour drive into downtown Louisville for doctor’s appointments and treatment because of difficulty in turning her head to look for traffic. Further, the bumps and jolts while driving aggravate her neck pain and headaches.

​Our client’s medical record and treatment activity demonstrate that she has been committed to proactively treating her injuries in a serious attempt to abate pain and heal herself. She consistently treated with doctors and followed their orders and recommendations. Further, she underwent months of therapy treatments attempting to mitigate or resolve her injuries without having to resort to surgery. Unfortunately, therapy alone was not enough. Surgery was her only remaining option.

​Medical records clearly indicate that our other client’s experienced cervical strain due to a substantial whiplash effect as a result of being struck by the truck at approximately 55 to 60 mph. Further, he suffers persistent pain and aching in his lower back as a result of the bulging lumbar disc he suffered as a result of the impact.

As a writer, his employment only aggravates the pain symptoms he experiences in his neck and lower back. He drives an hour to work each way and he still experiences pain in trying to turn his head and neck while driving. He also complains of suffering great anxiety when coming to a stop at a red light or on the highway due to fear of the driver behind him failing to stop, as was the case in his accident.

He has also had great difficulty sleeping since the accident due to neck and lower back pain, as evidenced by his doctor prescribing him Ambien. He rarely makes it through an entire night without waking in pain to readjust his body position. As a result, he experiences daily drowsiness at work and his general mood and disposition has been affected.