Feb 252014

I was hurt in a head-on car accident in Cherry Hill. I have a lot of pain in my neck, and the pain feels like the pain I had when I hurt my neck in a previous accident. Can I still sue the driver that hit me?

If you hurt or reinjured an old neck injury from a previous car accident, you may be able to sue the driver that hit you head-on in Cherry Hill.  However, the fact that your current pain symptoms are similar to those from your old neck injury doesn’t necessarily mean that you reinjured it.  You may have an entirely new neck injury that has the same or similar pain and discomfort as your old neck injury.  In addition to the new neck injury, you may have reinjured your old injury.

See similar NJ car accident case result: Medford, NJ Rear-End Car Accident Case Result (February 2014)

This typically happens with injuries to the neck or cervical spine.  There are several vertebrae and discs in your cervical spine.  Your old neck injury may have involved a disc herniation at a specific level of your spine, such as the C4-5 level.  Your neck injury from the head-on collision may have resulted in a disc herniation at a different level, such as the C5-6 level.  Disc herniations at both of these levels may have the same symptoms, i.e., numbness, tingling and/or pain radiating down your arm. As a result, you may not realize you have new disc pathology from the head-on car accident.  Therefore, it is important to seek medical treatment and have your injuries properly assessed.  An orthopedic doctor will likely order an MRI imaging study of your cervical spine to assess whether there is any unusual disc pathology.

Regardless of whether you reinjured your neck, have a new neck injury, or both, you may still bring a lawsuit against the driver who hit you head-on.  However, this is dependent on 2 things: whether you are subject to “Limitation on Tort Threshold” and the extent of your neck injury.

“Limitation on Tort Threshold” is an option you would have chosen when you bought your car insurance policy, and it limits your right to sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.  You may only bring a lawsuit against the at fault driver if your injury is permanent per New Jersey car accident law.  Other injuries, such as a displaced fracture or dismemberment, also allow an injured driver subject to “Limitation on Tort Threshold” to file a car accident lawsuit. For a detailed discussion about these other injuries, see New Jersey Car Accidents & Verbal Threshold – Can Injured Car Accident Victims Recover Damages? (Part 1)

If you have “Limitation on Tort Threshold,” you may only file a lawsuit if your neck injury is permanent.  Further, if you reinjured your neck, you must provide medical proof that distinguishes your medical condition before and after the head-on collision.  For example, your medical records may show that you had not received treatment for your neck within the 2 year period prior to the head-on accident and are now receiving treatment. This timeline and diagnostic studies would be sufficient proof that this car accident reinjured your neck.

On the other hand, if you do not have “Limitation on Tort Threshold,” you may bring a lawsuit against the driver regardless of whether your neck injury is permanent or not.  However, you still need to provide medical proof that compares your medical condition before and after the car accident if you reinjured your neck.

If you would like to discuss your accident further, feel free to call 800.281.8695 to schedule a FREE consultation.

*Disclaimer: Every case is unique and you should not take any action or make decisions in your case without speaking to a qualified car and truck accident lawyer in New Jersey. This website page does not provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Use of the contact form on this website or emailing Mr. Ciprietti does not create any attorney-client relationship. In addition, confidential information should not be sent through the contact form.