Can a Car Wreck Make Scoliosis Worse?

woman holding her neck after car crash

Experts estimate that two to three percent of the population has a spine condition called scoliosis. Someone with scoliosis has an abnormal curvature of the spine that can cause persistent back pain and uneven posture that causes them to lean to one side or the other.

Trauma to the back and body can absolutely worsen scoliosis symptoms and cause the injured party to seek more extensive treatment. This is what you need to know if your medical condition is aggravated by a car wreck caused by a careless driver.

Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a medical condition characterized by an irregular, sideways curvature of the spine. If you look at another person from behind, you will probably notice their spine appears to be relatively straight. However, in someone diagnosed with scoliosis, the spine can appear to shift to the left or right, taking the shape of a “C” or “S.”

What Causes Scoliosis?

Scoliosis has several possible causes. Some occur in utero, whereas others happen later in life after an injury.

The causes of scoliosis include:

  • Birth defects
  • Disease
  • Hereditary genetic conditions
  • Certain neuromuscular conditions
  • Surgery in the chest wall in infancy
  • Sports injuries and other physical trauma

Diagnosing Scoliosis

Scoliosis is most often diagnosed in children and young adults. Often, these are mild cases, although in some cases spinal curvature is more significant and can worsen with age. Severe scoliosis can be disabling, reducing the space within the chest cavity and affecting lung function.

Scoliosis Symptoms

Symptoms of scoliosis can vary from person to person, but they can include:

  • Back pain
  • Uneven hips, waist, or shoulders
  • One hip that is higher than the other
  • One side of the rib cage that juts forward
  • A prominence on one side that becomes more noticeable when bending forward

How Is Scoliosis Treated?

Again, every case of scoliosis is unique. Treatment depends on the person’s age, bone maturity if they are still growing, and the severity of the spinal curve.

Back braces are often recommended for children who are still growing. They cannot cure scoliosis, but they can prevent the curve from getting worse. More advanced cases may require from surgery to straighten the back and stop the condition from getting worse.

How Can a Car Wreck Make Scoliosis Worse?

The spinal column is one of the more fragile parts of the human body. In a car accident, the force of impact during the collision can be strong enough to cause or aggravate back injuries. These back injuries include broken vertebrae, joint and muscle damage, herniated disks, and possible spinal cord damage.

Left untreated, a physical trauma can trigger the development of scoliosis. For someone with a preexisting condition such as scoliosis, the trauma from a collision can be disabling. Someone with scoliosis caused or exacerbated by a car accident can experience pain and mobility problems that affect their ability to walk, stand, hold a job, and ultimately have a good quality of life.

Medical Evaluation Is Critical after a Car Wreck

If you are involved in a car accident, you should always seek medical attention. Injuries are possible even in crashes that occur at low speeds. Do not discount minor aches and pains from an accident. They may indicate more serious, underlying injuries of the head, neck, or spine that require prompt treatment.

Of course, medical care is essential to your health and well-being. It is also an important part of a successful personal injury claim as well.

Aggravation of Preexisting Medical Conditions

 If you have an accident involving personal injury, such as a motor vehicle collision, you can file a claim for bodily injury. The party who is at fault is responsible for compensating you for any injuries caused by the accident.

However, if you had an existing medical condition prior to your accident, the personal injury claim becomes significantly more complex. You and your accident lawyer must show how the accident aggravated your condition and impacted your life.

“Preexisting conditions” is an umbrella term that refers to any medical conditions an individual had prior to a car accident or other type of traumatic event. Scoliosis is one example of a preexisting condition.

Other common preexisting conditions that can be affected by physical trauma include:

  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pregnancy

Compensation for the Extent of Aggravation

In Maryland, injured parties are entitled to compensation based on the extent of aggravation of a preexisting condition. This is a very important distinction. That means you cannot recover damages for medical care you would have otherwise received had the accident never happened. You can obtain compensation only for doctor visits, hospitalization, surgery, medication, and other costs based on a condition that became worse because of an accident.

You are probably wondering how your accident lawyer will show how your health declined after a crash, particularly if you were diagnosed and treated for scoliosis years before. Although cases involving preexisting conditions are more challenging, they can be successfully resolved. Evidence is the key to building a strong case for compensation.

What Should I Do if a Car Accident Made My Scoliosis Worse?

A preexisting condition like scoliosis can in fact be used against you. It is not uncommon for insurance companies and defense attorneys to downplay car accident injuries and argue they are related to a previous injury or illness.

However, the plaintiff’s attorney can overcome this legal hurdle with compelling evidence that proves otherwise. In Maryland and many other states, you must take individuals involved in accidents as they are found. That means although a minor fender-bender may not have severely injured another person, you were seriously hurt. Your preexisting condition made you more susceptible to back pain and disability. In addition, the other driver is responsible.

To show causation and aggravation, your lawyer will gather evidence to show the contrast between your life before the accident and your life now.

Evidence should establish:

  • Your condition, symptoms, treatments, and long-term projected prognosis before the car wreck
  • Your condition, symptoms, treatments, and long-term projected prognosis after the accident

Typically, testimony from a qualified medical expert is used to link any aggravation in your symptoms to the car wreck. This is why prompt medical attention is so important after any type of personal injury. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the at-fault party’s legal team and insurance company are more likely to say the accident had nothing to do with your condition.

Sometimes, your lawyer may ask neighbors or coworkers to provide their observations of how your life was changed by a car wreck. For example, they may have observed you having more trouble getting around or performing job tasks since the crash.

To help your attorney, gather your medical records prior to the accident. Document any medical treatment you received after the accident, including emergency room visits, pain medications, surgery, and physical therapy. These are the clues that tell the story of how your life was impacted by a car wreck that was not your fault.

Remember that a preexisting condition and subsequent car accident injuries are not mutually exclusive. If your scoliosis became worse as a result of a serious vehicle crash, you deserve justice and are entitled to compensation for additional care and medical costs. Contact an accident lawyer with experience handling complex personal injury claims for guidance on your case.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Injured Clients Across Maryland

If a recent car accident made your back pain and mobility problems worse, you may be entitled to compensation for additional medical care. Although you cannot receive damages for symptoms you had before the crash, the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will fight to recover medical costs for health conditions directly related to the accident. We are dedicated to protecting our clients throughout the legal process and will fight to secure the compensation for which they are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.