Your spine is a complex structure of bone, muscle, and connective soft tissue (ligaments, tendons and fascia). Soft tissue injuries to the neck (often referred to as whiplash injury) and back are the most common types of injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. This is because when an accident occurs, the neck and back are subjected to sudden acceleration-deceleration forces, causing the neck or back to stretch beyond it’s normal range of movement and damaging (stretching) the soft tissues. This results in pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
In some cases, neck or back injuries result in fractured vertebrae or herniated discs. More frequently, however, injuries are to the soft tissue and do not show up on an x-ray or other scan. This means the pain and restricted functions are subjective in nature, and cannot be measured or independently verified. This makes proving the extent of injury and disability to ICBC more difficult. However, these injuries still cause real pain and are compensable.
If you suffer a soft tissue injury in a motor vehicle accident, it is imperative that you see your doctor regularly, follow your doctor’s advice regarding treatment recommendations, and be sure to give your doctor and therapists complete, accurate, and reliable descriptions about your injuries and functional restrictions. This will go a long way in convincing ICBC that you have a significant injury, notwithstanding the lack of physical signs.
When you see your doctor, the physical signs and your comments about your injuries will be recorded in your medical chart. These records become an integral part of your claim. If you rarely see your doctor, or don’t discuss your accident injuries when you do attend, it will leave ICBC with the impression that there is little or nothing wrong. The same impression will be left if you fail to regularly attend for treatment that your doctor has recommended. Further, if you give inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading injury reports to your doctor, inconsistencies will surely appear in the records, thus casting doubt on the validity of your injury claim. Remember that your doctor or other treating professionals may be called upon to give expert opinion about your injuries, disabilities, and care needs. Their opinions will largely be based on what is in your medical charts. If your charts are deemed unreliable, then little weight will be given to the expert opinions.