Soft tissue injuries are probably the most prevalent type that occur in the majority of accidents and personal injury claims. Soft tissue refers to tissue such as ligaments, which are strong bands of inelastic connective tissue connecting bone to bone; and tendons, which are slightly elastic connective tissue connecting muscle to bone.
These injuries may accompany more serious injuries such as broken limbs, lacerations, or head trauma but may stand alone. Although most soft tissue injuries suffered in a fall, collision, assault, or other trauma are slight, non-permanent and heal or resolve with days or a few weeks, many are serious enough to warrant long periods of medical care and to result in a permanent disability.
Without a medical provider rendering a diagnosis or opinion that an injury is serious enough to meet the threshold to qualify for damages for pain and suffering, your damages will be limited to pecuniary losses such as medical expenses and lost earnings. If suffered in an auto accident, you can collect additional funds from your own auto liability policy or Accident Benefits. But to obtain damages for pain and suffering, your injuries must result in serious disfigurement or loss of a limb, or permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function. For soft tissue injuries, this threshold is not always easy to meet.
For any type of soft tissue injury caused by the negligent conduct of another person or entity, contact a Toronto soft tissue injury lawyer from Affinity Law to handle your claim.
Types of Soft Tissue Injuries
- Back strains and sprains
- Carpal tunnel
- Torn ligaments
- Sprained ankle or wrist
These injuries often result from overuse such as carpal tunnel, bursitis or tendonitis, or from a sports injury such as torn knee ligaments or torn achilles heel.
A slip and fall can easily result in a soft tissue injury from the abrupt twist or torque of the back, neck or knee. Car accidents, especially rear-end collisions, are notorious for producing whiplash type injuries to your neck and back.
Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injuries
The symptoms of a soft tissue injury are varied:
- Limited range of motion
- Back and/or neck pain
- Headaches, dizziness nausea
- Muscle spasms and weakness
If these symptoms last long enough or become chronic, a victim can become extremely depressed and require therapy or medication.
Whiplash injuries suffered in a car accident are likely the most common type of claim brought in any kind of personal injury action since rear-end collisions are so routine. Although most are fender-benders with no injuries, a significant number do result in acceleration-deceleration injuries of varying degrees. When a vehicle is struck from behind, the occupants in the impacted vehicle will experience a reaction in three phases:
- A forward bending movement or flexion of the neck that can result in the cervical spine losing its normal lordotic curvature
- The bones in the neck extending in an opposite direction from flexion so that the cervical spine assumes an S shape
- The movement continuing toward extension affecting the entire neck
Symptoms of a whiplash are not always immediately apparent at the scene of the accident. In many cases, a victim is in slight shock from the incident and symptoms will not begin to manifest until hours or days later. Further, many whiplash injuries occur when the impact speed is slight, at 15 miles per hour or even less, which can present issues of causation and result in denial of an injury claim by the responsible party’s insurer.
Treatment for these injuries usually consist of:
- Ice for the first 24-hours
- Heat packs
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Neck brace or collar for support
- Injection of lidocaine into painful areas to enable physical therapy
- Series of range of motion exercises
- TENS Unit that applies mild electric current to ease neck pain
- Chiropractic manipulations
Because soft tissue injuries are based largely on subjective signs of trauma, insurers for parties whose negligence or intentional act caused the accident or incident are often skeptical of such claims. This is especially true if the car accident was a low impact collision. Personal injury lawyers will have to carefully but aggressively handle these claims to get their clients the compensation that they deserve. Factors to consider include:
- Property damage to both vehicles
- Results of clinical examination and their consistency with your symptoms and complaints
- Progress or lack thereof in reducing pain and increasing range of motion
- Diagnostic test results that can show loss of lordotic curve or development of herniated disc
- Inability to perform routine daily or recreational activities
- Inability to work or to substantially perform your normal work duties
- Medical opinion that you have reached you MMI or maximum medical improvement
Documentation of chronic pain symptoms and limitation of activities
With strong and supportive testimony from your medical provider or chiropractor and documentary evidence of medical expenses and lost earnings, you have a better opportunity to get the compensation your injury claim deserves.
Damages in Whiplash Claims
In any car accident in Ontario, you are first required to seek accident benefits from your own insurer, regardless of fault. These pay up to $400 per week for income losses or income replacement, and $3,500 for physical therapy or other rehabilitation costs. You can still pursue damages for income and medical costs not covered by these accident benefits.
As noted, you can only collect damages for pain and suffering if the court determines that your injuries are serious and permanent. In whiplash or any other soft tissue injury case, you will need a medical opinion supported by clinical evidence of your disability. There is also a deductible on the amount awarded. In Ontario, it is $38,818.97. For instance, if you are awarded $75,000 in pain and suffering, you would receive $36,181.03. You are also limited to the maximum award for pain and suffering of around $340,000. There is no cap on pecuniary damages. No deductible applies to awards of at least $129,395.45.
Another type of soft tissue injury is fibromyalgia, which can be a complication or consequence of post-traumatic stress disorder or severe emotional distress. The condition is marked by chronic pain, fatigue, exhaustion, lack of focus and attention, and an inability to perform routine daily activities. Sufferers often report sensitivity to certain points on their bodies that remains for long periods of time. Other symptoms are stiffness, headaches, and tingling and numbness in hands and feet.
Fibromyalgia can be triggered by a traumatic event such as a car accident. Severe nerve pain from the accident may increase nerve signals to the brain long after the event has passed. In some cases, victims suffer from this condition over their lifetime and require physical therapy and pain management. The risk of opioid addiction is high among sufferers. In any event, chronic pain from fibromyalgia is real and can be permanent and serious in many cases to warrant an award of pain and suffering in many cases.
As with any soft tissue injury, you will need the strong support or advocacy of your medical provider to support an injury claim where your diagnosis is fibromyalgia. Contact a Toronto soft tissue injury lawyer from Affinity Law to handle these often difficult claims.
ACL and Other Knee Ligament Tears
ACL tears are usually attributed to injuries suffered by athletes, but car accidents, work-related incidents, and slip and falls can certainly produce severe and debilitating knee injuries. Permanent impairment can result even after surgery since the knee generally never regains the strength it once had nor its former stability and mobility. This applies to any kind of ligament tear in the knee, including the medial cruciate ligament (MCL) or anterior cruciate (ACL). Unlike other soft tissue injuries, an MRI can clearly reveal the tear.
The ACL provides 90% of knee stability. An abrupt jerking or twisting motion can tear or sever it as can direct impact such as in a car accident or from a fall. An ACL injury can be disabling and prevent someone who was engaged in physical labor from returning to their employment or from enjoying certain recreational activities forever.
Retain Affinity Law
Soft tissue injuries can present substantial challenges to your receiving full compensation for your injuries especially for whiplash and fibromyalgia where diagnostic tests may not reveal the nature and extent of these all too real injuries that can produce permanent and chronic pain and disability. Contact one of our soft tissue injury lawyers from Affinity Law if you are suffering from injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
Call us today for a free consultation at (905) 738-2463.