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It doesn’t take much of an impact with a motor vehicle for a bicyclist to suffer serious neck injuries. The impact will cause the rider’s head to get tossed forward and then backward or from side to side. Then comes the second impact with another vehicle, the ground, or a stationary object like a road sign or telephone pole. That can inflict even more trauma on the victim’s cervical spine.
Twisting and trauma can result in strains and sprains of the cervical spine (neck). When the impact is violent, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, discs and nerves can be injured.
The neck is the most mobile part of the spine, but with the benefits of its mobility, it’s also prone to injuries from strains. A strain will damage muscles and ligaments. These strains are often referred to as soft tissue injuries. Victims will feel sharp pain, stiffness, and loss of range of motion when they move their head. Most cervical strains are treated with medication, a soft cervical collar and a course of chiropractic treatment or physical therapy.
A cervical sprain is more serious than a strain. When a bike rider suffers a cervical sprain, he or she has suffered damage to the ligaments and structures that connect the cervical vertebrae (spinal bones) and joints. It’s not unusual for neck strains and sprains to be suffered at the same time. Symptoms will be substantially similar to those of a neck strain. Treatment will also be similar to that for a neck strain.
Bones and Nerves
Most bicycle accident injuries are suffered at the top half of the body. That’s why it’s not unusual to see a neck fracture after a bike accident. Severe pain will probably be experienced at the location of the fracture. In some cases, conservative treatment will be sufficient. Surgery might be required to relieve pressure from the fracture on spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself.
Discs and Nerves
Between each cervical vertebra is a spinal disc. They’re made of cartilage, and they have a jelly-like substance inside of them that acts like a cushion when we walk or run. Trauma can cause a spinal disc to become displaced from its original position or even herniate. When a disc herniates, the jelly-like substance inside of it leaks out and puts pressure on spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself. In the case of a displaced or herniated cervical spine disc, the victim is likely to experience sharp neck pain going across the shoulder and into the arm to the fingers. He or she might experience intermittent periods of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected extremity. A displaced disc might be successfully treated with physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, but once a disc is herniated, it stays herniated. Surgery and extensive rehab are in order for most herniated discs. Expect to experience residual pain and discomfort. You’ll probably be carrying around hardware in your spine for the rest of your life.
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, and you suffer neck pain, it’s critical that you seek emergency room treatment immediately. You must also follow up on any treatment recommendations. The timeliness of medical care and treatment can be of great help in establishing the cause, nature, and extent of your neck injury. This evidence can be used to help overcome the inevitable allegations from the insurer of the person who caused your accident and injuries that you injured your neck some other way, are malingering or are exaggerating your pain and discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I talk to the insurance adjuster to find out what they are offering before I see an attorney?

Anything you say to the insurance company or their attorneys can be twisted out of context and used to pay you as little money as possible or even get your case dismissed. These people are pros at what they do, and you need a pro on your side. Talk to an attorney first before you talk to the insurance company.

What if my neck still hurts over a year after my accident?

Sometimes injuries take a long time to heal, and this is common for neck injuries. Keep in mind that in California you have two years to file a claim before you lose your right to compensation. An attorney will know how to file a claim to keep your case alive and then allow some time to heal so you will know the extent of your injuries.

Should I wear a neck brace if I hurt my neck in a bike accident?

Don’t do any treatment for a bike accident without orders from a licensed physician. Putting on a neck brace when it hasn’t been prescribed by a doctor might harm your compensation case and possibly harm your neck even more. Get an attorney and follow his or her advice so you can get maximum compensation.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law

Any of the above neck injuries can result in expensive medical treatment, pain, and emotional trauma. You’ll want them treated professionally and responsibly. You’ll want your California bicycle accident personal injury case treated effectively, efficiently, and professionally too.
The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law focus their practice on bicycle-related injuries. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base, and familiarity to handle bicycle accident cases to the utmost level of professional expertise. Since bicycle accident-related injuries present unique legal issues that oftentimes render them completely different from conventional auto accidents or accidents involving other types of vehicles, BABL’s collective expertise in bicycle cases is imperative in helping clients achieve the most favorable settlements possible.
We work with clients in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento, and all over Northern California. Contact us today for a free consultation after any bicycle accident.