Ewing Carter III, P.A.



Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external object impacts the head hard enough to cause the brain to move within the skull.  The crash of a motor vehicle collision can cause such an injury.  Also, a rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head (whiplash effect) can force the brain to move back and forth, inside the skull bruising brain tissue and pulling apart nerve fibers, which can:  affect a person’s level of consciousness, impair their cognitive abilities, and/or physical functioning.


Automobile collisions and workplace accidents are common causes of neck injuries.  A familiar auto accident injury is “whiplash.”  Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck that can vary in severity.



What to do in case of a severe neck injury:

Time is of the essence when you suspect someone has suffered a severe neck

injury.  The following steps should be taken in neck emergencies:

    1) Call 911 for help;

    2) Do not move the person, especially the head unless the failure to do so 

        presents a clear and present danger;
    3) Keep the person completely immobile;

        3A. Exceptions to Immobility
              Persons suffering from severe neck injuries should be moved if:
              a. Their life is threatened, if they aren’t moved;
              b. They are vomiting;
              c. They are choking on blood;
              d. You don’t detect any signs that they breathing or you cannot find a

                   pulse in order to determine if CPR is needed.

When it is necessary to move a neck injury victim, keep their head immobile, and

move them as one unit. Do the same if you need to roll them over.  To roll a

victim over, you will need two people ---- one at the head and one at the feet.

                                            BACK INJURIES

Back injuries are common in workplace acc
ident or automobile collisions.  Back

injuries include muscle strains, sprains, bruising, spasms, ruptured and herniated

discs, just to name a few.  A person’s level of physical fitness can affect not only

the “degree of injury” to their back, but also their speed of recovery, when

compared to the general population. Aerobic exercises and strong stomach

muscles can help decrease the risk of back injury.  Additionally, losing extra

pounds, if you are overweight will also hasten your recovery time.

Ruptured Discs (Bulging or Slipped Discs)

The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae with discs separating each one. 

Discs consist of cartilage and serve to cushion each vertebra during normal

activity.  A “rupture” of a disc occurs when the disc’s soft inner cushion shoots

out through the disc’s harder exterior, creating pressure on the nerve root.  A

ruptured disc, also called a bulging or slipped disc, can make almost any activity

painful, particularly sitting for long periods of time.  There are a number of causes

related to ruptured discs, including traumatic accidents and repetitive motion.

Herniated Discs

A herniated disc is similar to a ruptured disc, only more advanced.  A herniated

disc occurs with the same bulging of the disc into the spinal canal, but pieces of

the disc actually break off and enter the spinal canal.

Approximately 90% of disc herniations will occur at L4-L5 (lumbar segments 4

and 5) or L5-S1 (lumbar segment 5 and sacral segment 1), which causes pain in

the L5 nerve or S1 nerve, respectively.

When part of a disc presses on a nerve in the lumbar region, it can cause

numbness, weakness and tingling down the legs and into the feet.  A herniated

disc pressing on the nerves in the spine can also cause weakness of the leg. 

The group of muscles that are weak depends on which nerve is being impinged.  

A herniated disc can also produce pain in both the back and the legs. The

location of the pain depends on which disc is weak.  How bad the pain is

depends on how much of the disc is pressing on the nerve.  In most

people with herniated discs, the pain spreads over the buttocks and goes down

the back of one thigh and into the calf.  This is commonly referred to as Sciatica.

The pain from a herniated disc is usually worse when you’re active, and improves

when you are resting.  Coughing, sneezing, sitting, driving, and bending forward

may make the pain worse.  The pain often times gets worse with these

movements because of additional pressure put on the nerve.


A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of

function such as mobility or feeling.

The spinal cord does not have to be cut or severed in order for a loss of function

to occur.  In reality, most  people with SCI, the spinal cord is intact.  SCI is

different from back or neck injuries.  For example, a person can “break their neck

or back” and not sustain a spinal cord injury, if only the bones around the spinal

cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, but the spinal cord is not affected.

Generally speaking, injuries that occur higher in the spinal cord produce more

paralysis.  For example, a spinal cord injury at the neck level may cause paralysis

in both arms and legs and make it impossible to breathe without a respirator,

while a lower injury may affect only the legs and lower parts of the body.

Spinal cord injuries are classified as: 1) partial or, 2) complete – depending on

how much of the cord width is damaged. Thus, in a partial or “incomplete” spinal

cord injury, the spinal cord injury is able to convey some messages to or from the

brain., and may retain some sensation and possibly some motor function below

the affected area.  Alternatively, a complete injury involves a complete loss of

motor function and sensation below the area of injury.  A key distinction is that

those with a partial spinal cord injury are able to experience significant recovery,

while those with complete injuries are not.

Most trauma to the spinal cord causes permanent disability or loss of movement

(paralysis) and sensation below the site of injury.  Paralysis can involve all four

extremities, a condition called quadriplegia, or the paralysis can involve only the

lower body, a condition called paraplegia.


This publication and the information included in it are not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation with an attorney. Specific legal issues, health concerns and conditions always require the advice of appropriate legal and medical professionals. 

For further questions, contact Attorney Carter at (336-883-2247)
1004 N. Main Street
Suite 102
High Point, NC 27262



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