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When Can You Seek Financial Compensation for an Annular Tear or Fissure?

Annular tears and annular fissures can have significant financial and non-financial costs, and patients diagnosed with these injuries will often be able to recover their losses by filing a personal injury claim or a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This is true for both traumatic injuries (e.g., injuries from auto accidents, sports accidents, and falls) and injuries caused by repetitive stress. 

Annular tears and annular fissures are painful and debilitating injuries that can arise from a variety of different causes. While genetics can play a role, these spinal cord injuries frequently result from repetitive stress (or “overuse”) at work or from traumatic accidents such as car crashes, sports collisions, and falls. As a result, individuals who have been diagnosed with annular tears and annular fissures will often be entitled to financial compensation, whether in the form of an insurance settlement, workers’ compensation benefits, or a personal injury verdict at trial.

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Understanding the Causes of Annular Tears and Annular Fissures

The annular fibrosus forms the hard outer shell of the discs in the spinal cord. It consists of a mesh of connective fibers. And, while extremely durable, it (like all parts of the human body) is subject to wear over time. Additionally, similar to the discs, nerves, and other parts that make up the spinal cord, the annular fibrosus can be damaged as a result of a traumatic accident.

An annular tear occurs when the annular fibrosus breaks apart due to repetitive stress or traumatic impact. The tear causes the fluid of the disc inside of the annular fibrosus to leak out, and this can potentially lead to a host of medical complications. Although the terms “annular tear” and “annular fissure” are often used interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two conditions. While annular tears are about equally likely to result from overuse and trauma, annular fissures are more commonly recognized as a form of wear-and-tear injury.

Traumatic accidents that can result in annular tears include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
  • Sports collisions
  • Falls (including slip-and-fall accidents and falls from heights)
  • Forklift and heavy machinery accidents
  • Other work-related accidents

Types of repetitive stress that can lead to annular tears and annular fissures include:

  • Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Heavy lifting
  • Bending at the waist
  • Twisting the lower back
  • Climbing ladders and stairs

Understanding the Effects of Annular Tears and Annular Fissures

Similar to many other types of traumatic injuries and repetitive stress injuries, one of the first warning signs of an annular tear or annular fissure is localized pain. Individuals who have suffered annular tears and annular fissures will often experience pain in the lower back that results from the nerve endings inside of the spinal cord being exposed by the tear or fissure. This pain may also spread to one or both legs, and it is common for the pain to worsen with physical strain, sitting, and coughing or sneezing. Tingling, numbness, and burning sensations are potential warning signs of annular tears and annular fissures as well. Over time, each of these symptoms can spread to other parts of the body.

Annular tears and annular fissures are treatable. However, without treatment, the effects can continue to worsen, and these injuries can often become debilitating. Medical bills can add up quickly. And for individuals who are unable to work or experience other limitations due to chronic pain and limited mobility, annular tears and annular fissures can lead to other financial and non-financial losses as well. 

Understanding Your Legal Rights after an Annular Tear or Annular Fissure Diagnosis

If you are experiencing symptoms of an annular tear or annular fissure, you should see a doctor promptly. Be sure to explain your symptoms in detail, and tell your doctor if you have recently been involved in an accident or if you think your pain may be due to repetitive stress. If you have already been diagnosed with an annular tear or annular fissure, you should speak with an attorney to find out if you are entitled to financial compensation. 

1. Personal Injury Compensation for Traumatic Accidents

If you suffered your injury in a vehicle collision or other traumatic accident, then you may be able to recover your lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses by filing a personal injury claim. In Oregon and Washington, accident victims are entitled to full compensation for all of their financial and non-financial losses. 

Typically, the process of securing financial compensation involves negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurer (e.g., the negligent driver’s auto insurance company or a property owner’s home or commercial liability insurance company), although, in some cases, it will be necessary to go to court in order to win the financial compensation you deserve. But, for now, all you need to focus on is contacting an attorney so that he or she can begin the process of seeking just compensation on your behalf. As your claim progresses, your attorney will discuss any settlement offers with you, and you will have the opportunity to make a fully informed decision about whether to settle or take your case to trial. 

2. Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Repetitive Stress Injuries

If you got injured on the job, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. This is true whether you suffered a traumatic injury or you suffered an annular tear or annular fissure due to repetitive stress. In Oregon and Washington, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, and most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance (or self-insure) in order to cover their employees’ work-related injuries. However, as workers’ compensation does not provide full coverage for on-the-job injuries, you will want to discuss your options for filing a personal injury claim with your attorney as well. 

Request a Free Consultation with an Attorney at D’Amore Law Group

If you live in Oregon or Washington and have questions about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation. To speak with an injury lawyer at D’Amore Law Group in confidence, call us or request an appointment online today.

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