Herniated disc injuries

Only a person who has experienced cervical or lumbar disc problems can fully appreciate just how painful and debilitating these injuries can be. The pain can be excruciating and unrelenting.

Spinal (intervertebral) discs are tightly sandwiched between two vertebrae to which they are attached.  The discs are round and flat with a tough, outer shell (capsule) that surrounds a jelly-like material (nucleus). When the discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine, keeping the spine flexible. When discs are damaged by injury, disease or the normal wear and tear associated with aging, they may bulge or rupture, becoming a herniated disc (sometimes called a slipped or ruptured disc).

Disc herniations are normally a further development of a previously existing disc “protrusion“, a condition in which the outermost layers of the annulus fibrosus are still intact, but can “bulge” when the disc is under pressure. In contrast to a herniation, none of the jelly-like substance (nucleus pulposus) escapes beyond the outer layers of the disc.

While these injuries can be the result of underlying disc degeneration or disease, they can also result from physical trauma associated with motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, fall injuries, bike accidents and even sports injuries. Many times, a person may have an underlying disc condition that has not produced any symptoms or pain until they are involved in an accident. Often, the insurance company will point to these underlying degenerative conditions to avoid liability.

The question becomes, are you entitled to recover for damages in a personal injury accident when a pre-existing medical condition has been aggravated or exacerbated? The answer is yes. This is frequently referred to as the “egg shell” theory and is discussed on our website.

Massachusetts case law states that people can be liable not only for the injuries that they cause, but for aggravation of previous underlying conditions or injuries that become worse or are exacerbated. The case law on the subject has concluded that it is reasonably foreseeable that persons who are injured may have pre-existing conditions, or deformities, and that a negligent person must take the injured person as they find them.

Often, we remind insurance companies of this by citing the following case law:

“If the defendant injures the plaintiff, and this injury combines with a pre-existing disability ‘to bring greater harm to the plaintiff, than would have resulted from the injury alone, the defendant may be liable for all consequences…The wrongdoer may be held responsible for the harmful results of the combined effects of his wrongful act and the [preexisting] disease’ or disability. Wallace v. Ludwig, 292 Mass. 251, 256 (1935); McGrath  v. G & P Thread Corp. 353 Mass. 60, 63 (1967) (“wrongdoer [is] responsible for the harmful results of the combined effects of his wrongful act and a preexisting disease or condition”). See especially Pierce v. Nawn, 5 Mass. App. Ct. 224, 225-226 (1977) (holding that trial judge’s failure to give Wallace-type instruction upon request was reversible error); Varelakis v. Etterman, 4 Mass. App. Ct. 841, 842 (1976) (holding that trial judge’s failure to give Wallace-type instruction upon request was reversible error).

The attorneys at Curran & Desharnais, P.C. hope for your safety. But if you find yourself in a situation where you require legal representation, contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. We provide experienced representation for people who have been injured in accidents throughout Massachusetts & the Greater Boston area. Call the Greater Boston Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Office of Curran & Desharnais, P.C. Today at 781-618-3197 or 1-888-682-9194 or email Attorney Curran directly at jkcurran@verizon.net.

Car Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, pedestrian accidents, Personal Injury, Premises Liability

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