If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be suffering from damage to your nerves and not even know it.  Unlike a cut or broken bone, nerve damage is not visible to the naked eye.  It may take hours, days or even weeks to recognize the signs of nerve damage due to the shock and adrenaline you experience following a traumatic event.  This is why it is especially important to see a doctor as soon as possible following an accident.

Nerve damage is a serious personal injury as nerves play an important role in the human body to function properly.  Nerves carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body.  Motor nerves carry messages between the brain and muscles to make the body move.  Sensory nerves carry messages between the brain and different parts of the body to signal pain, pressure and temperature.  Damaged nerves can cause victims of car accidents to suffer debilitating consequences and may prevent victims from being able to return to work or their everyday activities.


The nervous system includes the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves linking the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body).  The force of impact sustained in a motor vehicle accident can cause a variety of nerve injuries to either of these two systems, which can be debilitating. 

The most common types of nerve damage caused by a car crash include:

Severed Nerves:  A deep cut or sudden movement may sever the nerve insulation or fibers within the nerves.  If the insulation remains intact, the nerve fibers may regrow.  However, if the insulation and fibers are severed in an accident, surgical repair may be necessary.

Stretched Nerves:  Whiplash is a very common injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident.  The violent back-and-forth motion to the neck can easily stretch nerves.

Pinched Nerves:  This is also referred to as a compressed nerve and can cause discomfort, pain and numbness in different areas of the body depending on where the nerve is located.  This condition can heal over time through stretching and other forms of treatment.

Neuropathy:  This condition refers to the disruption of nerve signals in the peripheral nervous system affecting the ability to maintain balance, walk, grasp objects or perform motor skills.  Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness and pain, which can range from mild to debilitating.

Radiculopathy:  This condition is a specific form of neuropathy that occurs when a nerve in the spine becomes compressed or pinched causing pain, weakness, tingling or numbness through the nerve.  It most commonly occurs in the lower back or the neck (i.e. sciatica). 

Myelopathy:  This is a disorder that results from severe compression to the spinal cord from trauma, spinal infections, congenital stenosis, degenerative disease or disc herniation.  Treatment for this disorder depends upon the cause and in some cases may be irreversible.   Nonsurgical treatment includes bracing physical therapy and medication.  In more advanced cases of myelopathy, surgery may be recommended.


Symptoms of nerve damage can differ depending upon where you have suffered the injury.  Here are some nerve damage symptoms to watch out for following a car crash: 

  • Numbness and tingling;
  • Shooting or radiating pain;
  • Pain in uninjured body parts:  As spinal nerves send messages to and from different parts of your body, when one is damaged you may feel discomfort in the body part it serves.
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Twitching or muscle spasms;
  • Burning sensation;
  • Pain;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Foot drop and problems walking:  Nerve damage in the low back can lead to muscle weakness and motor dysfunction in the legs and feet.  Severe cases may result in a foot drop (difficulty lifting the front part of the foot and toes) or changes to one’s gait.
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence;
  • Sexual dysfunction;
  • Severe headaches; and
  • Decreased or lost reflexes.


It is recommended that you always seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you believe that your injuries are minor.

Diagnosing nerve damage generally involves the following:

  • A neurological exam that checks reflexes, strength, sensations and coordination;
  • Electromyography (EMG) nerve function tests that record electrical activity in the muscles;
  • Nerve conduction studies that record how muscles respond to stimuli; and/or
  • MRI and CT scans to look for internal injuries, such as herniated discs.


Personal injury claims involving nerve damage can be complex, therefore evidence from medical experts is particularly important.  It is also necessary to establish how one’s life has changed following the accident.  It is important to provide evidence from the victim as well as those who know the victim well.  The lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP have experience establishing evidence that is necessary for personal injury claims such as these.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or another serious accident and suffer from nerve damage as a result of someone else’s negligence, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid claim.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  For a free case evaluation, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 to make an appointment.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.