Nerve damage can cause minor, temporary symptoms. But in other cases, nerve damage may even leave your entire body paralyzed. If an accident severs nerves, your injuries will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Nerve damage can arise from almost any type of accident. Neck and back injuries, broken bones, and burns can all pinch or tear nerves. These injuries can leave you with a range of problems, some of which might not even seem related to your injury.
Here is a short guide with information about nerve damage and the compensation you can seek for its effects.
How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
Nerves connect the brain to the body. Nerves run to your muscles to carry control signals from your brain. Nerves also carry sensory signals from your skin and other sense organs to your brain, where they are ultimately decoded.
Nerves are formed from neurons. Neurons communicate using electrical signals. When nerves get pinched, the signals can get disrupted. Signals might weaken as they pass along pinched nerves. The pressure on the nerve can also cause neurons to misfire.
In some cases, doctors can relieve the pressure that has built up on the nerve. This can lessen the symptoms of nerve damage.
In severe cases, the nerves can be severed completely. Severed nerves cannot carry electrical signals. As a result, the areas of the body below the severed nerves will experience paralysis and sensory loss.
Doctors cannot repair severed nerves, which means that the symptoms will become permanent unless the brain rewires itself so that undamaged nerves can take over the functions of the severed nerves.
The nervous system has a few major parts. These include:
The brain serves as the control center for the nervous system. It sends control signals to the muscles and organs. It receives sensory signals from the body so it can adjust the control signals and keep everything running correctly.
The Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that connects the brain to the body. It runs down the spinal canal in your back. Nerves for every part of your body below the neck run through the spinal cord.
The Cranial Nerves
Nerves that run to your head do not pass through the spinal cord. Instead, they run directly from the brain to your face and sensory organs. The cranial nerves include the optic nerve that runs to your eyes and the auditory nerve that runs to your ears.
The Peripheral Nerves
As nerves exit the spinal cord, they branch out to their destination. The nerve root constitutes the portion of the nerve closest to the spinal cord. The peripheral nerves run from the nerve root to the various muscles and organs.
What are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage can produce a range of symptoms. The symptoms of nerve damage will depend on the type of nerves that you injured.
Motor nerves carry control signals from the brain to the body. Symptoms of motor nerve damage include:
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of balance
- Loss of dexterity
The area affected by a damaged motor nerve will depend on which nerves got injured. A spinal cord injury in the neck can cause problems anywhere in the body. A spinal cord injury in the back will usually only affect your lower body, however.
Damage to a nerve root can cause symptoms in several body parts connected through the nerve root. A peripheral nerve injury will only cause symptoms in the body part served by the nerve.
Autonomic nerves control the involuntary systems in your body. Symptoms of a damaged autonomic nerve can include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- High or low blood pressure
- Erratic body temperature
- Sexual dysfunction
The symptoms of autonomic nerve damage might seem unrelated to your injury. As a result, you might not make the connection between your accident and the symptoms.
Sensory nerves carry signals from your sense organs – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin – to your brain. The brain decodes these signals to get sensory information.
Symptoms of sensory nerve damage will depend on the nerve. Some symptoms of injuries to sensory nerves include:
- Loss of sight, hearing, taste, or smell
Doctors often diagnose sensory nerve damage in the peripheral nerves as peripheral neuropathy.
What Are Some Injuries that Can Cause Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage can result from any injury that compresses or severs a nerve. Some examples of these injuries include:
Each vertebra includes a cylindrical body and wing-shaped processes. The gap between the body and processes forms the spinal canal.
When bones fracture, bone fragments can enter the spinal canal and damage the spinal cord. When a process fractures, the ligaments in the back cannot hold the vertebra in place. As the vertebra dislocates, it can compress or sever nerves.
Car accidents and falls can fracture vertebrae. As your spine compresses, twists, or bends during an accident, the vertebrae can snap.
The sharp ends of a broken bone can tear through soft tissue, including nerves. It can also produce bone fragments that sever or compress nerves. For example, a broken arm can damage the peripheral nerves in the arm.
A crushing force can squeeze nerves. Crushed nerves often cannot transmit signals.
Crushing injuries can happen in any kind of accident. For example, workplace accidents resulting from vehicles, machinery, or falling objects can crush your body.
Burn injuries can damage the nerve endings in your skin and the underlying muscle. Paradoxically, severe burns can damage nerves so badly that accident victims feel no pain.
What Compensation Can I Recover for Nerve Damage Injuries?
Compensation after an accident can include your economic and non-economic damages. You might be entitled to substantial compensation, including your present and future medical expenses.
Your economic damages also include your present and future lost income. If your nerve damage forces you to quit working or take a lower-paying job, your compensation can include the lost income.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the diminishment in your quality of life. Non-economic damages can include compensation for physical pain, mental suffering, loss of activities, and other ways your injury altered your life. For permanent nerve damage, you might have ample evidence to justify non-economic damages.
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
To discuss the compensation you can seek for your nerve damage, contact Lavent Law, P.A. for a free consultation. Our Miami personal injury lawyers are standing by to help with your claim.