Nerves consist of bundles of fibers that carry nerve signals. These signals include sensory perceptions that run from your body to your brain. They also include motor signals that run from your brain to your body.
Nerve damage from trauma or disease can disrupt these signals. This damage can produce symptoms ranging from numbness to paralysis.
Curious about nerve damage and the compensation you can seek for it after an accident? Read on to learn more.
How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
Nerve signals can get disrupted in a few different ways. The most common causes include:
Some cancers and autoimmune diseases can deteriorate nerve tissue. These diseases can result from genetic or environmental causes.
For example, exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace, like lead and mercury, can lead to tumors that grow close enough to nerves to compress them.
The forces involved in an accident can tear nerve tissue, preventing signals from traveling along the nerves. Trauma can also result in bone fragments or other foreign objects severing or compressing nerves.
Traumatic injuries can cause swelling or displacement of tissue that compresses nerves.
Repetitive stress can cause tendons, muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues to swell. The swollen tissue can compress nerves, leading to nerve damage.
What Are the Different Types of Nerve Damage?
The nervous system includes the brain and the nerves. All of the nerves begin at the brain and travel down the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, nerves branch into the body.
An accident can cause nerve damage to the spinal cord or in the branches.
Different Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can have catastrophic consequences. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, you can suffer from loss of sensation or control over entire regions of your body.
For example, a severed spinal cord in your cervical spine can result in quadriplegia. A severed spinal cord in your lumbar spine can cause paraplegia.
The spinal cord can suffer trauma in a few ways:
A fracture can allow a vertebra to slip out of place. The displaced vertebra can compress or sever the spinal cord.
A fractured vertebra can also produce bone fragments that can enter the spinal canal. There, the bone fragments can pinch or cut nerves in the spinal cord.
Discs sit between vertebrae. The discs consist of a fibrous exterior surrounding a gel-like interior.
Trauma can compress the discs. This can cause the discs to herniate or bulge. In either case, the disc tissue can protrude into the spinal canal and compress the spinal cord.
A foreign object can penetrate the spinal canal. This object can sever or compress the nerves of the spinal cord.
Peripheral Nerve Damage
When nerves outside of the spinal cord get damaged, you have suffered a condition known as peripheral nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy. This type of nerve damage will produce different symptoms, depending on which nerves were damaged.
What Are the Common Types of Nerve Damage?
The body has three types of nerves. These include:
Sensory nerves detect sense impressions and carry sensory signals to the brain. Damage to sensory nerves can cause:
- Loss of temperature sensation
- Loss of balance
If an area feels like it has “fallen asleep,” you might have damaged a sensory nerve.
Autonomous nerves control the involuntary body functions, like:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Temperature control
- Bladder control
- Bowel movement
- Sexual function
If you damage an autonomous nerve, you could experience problems with some or all of these body systems.
Motor nerves carry signals from the brain to control the voluntary movements of the body. Symptoms of motor nerve damage include:
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of dexterity
- Muscle atrophy
Damaged motor nerves can leave you without the muscle control to walk, lift, carry, or perform other tasks necessary to work.
What Are the Risk Factors for Nerve Damage?
Several types of accidents can lead to nerve damage. The most common ways that these injuries happen include:
Workplaces contain many hazards that can lead to traumatic nerve damage. Falling objects, moving vehicles, and operating machinery can cause workplace accidents that tear or crush flesh. As a result, you could suffer nerve damage from severed or compressed nerves.
Repetitive movements, like lifting, carrying, walking, and standing, can also damage nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome results from pressure on the median nerve. The pressure comes from typing or other kinds of repetitive hand movements that cause the soft tissue in your wrist and forearm to swell.
Car accidents can fracture bones. When bones are fractured, the jagged end of the broken bone can tear nerves. For example, a fractured bone in the face from an airbag can lead to damaged nerves in the face.
Falls can fracture vertebrae, leading to paralysis. Fractures in the extremities can damage peripheral nerves.
Dangerous substances like pesticides and industrial chemicals can cause diseases that damage nerves. Toxic neuropathy can result from organic solvents, heavy metals, and various prescription medications.
What Compensation Can You Seek for Nerve Damage?
Injury compensation should account for all of your economic damages and non-economic damages.
Your economic damages include the financial costs of your nerve damage, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Diminished earning capacity
You might have substantial economic losses for nerve damage. Although doctors cannot repair severed nerves, doctors can usually relieve pressure on compressed nerves with surgery.
You might also require physical therapy to strengthen your body to better support the area affected by the nerve damage.
If your nerve damage affects your ability to work, your damages should account for your lost income. For example, nerve damage that affects your ability to type might prevent you from continuing to work at your job as a secretary. If you are forced to change careers, your injury compensation should account for any reduction in income you might face.
Non-economic damages compensate you for all of the ways your nerve damage diminishes your quality of life, particularly the impacts that are not financial in nature.
Some examples of non-economic losses include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of activities
Nerve damage can deprive you of your normal life and leave you with pain, paralysis, and an inability to participate in the activities you enjoy.
Contact a Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
To discuss the compensation you can seek for your nerve damage, contact Allen Law Firm, P.A. for a free case consultation. We’ll explore any compensation you may be eligible to receive. Our Gainesville personal injury lawyers are standing by.