Cervical dystonia is a rare condition that only around 60,000 people in the United States have, but those who suffer from it know all too well about the pain and inconvenience that it brings to your life. Research on cervical dystonia is still ongoing, but the condition appears to be caused by acute physical trauma. In recent years, cervical dystonia has been recognized as an aggravated type of injury resulting from auto accidents, slip and falls, and other types of personal injuries.
If you have developed cervical dystonia due to trauma caused by another person, you may be entitled to compensation. Even though this condition is not well known, large settlements have been given to victims in past years. This page is dedicated to explaining what exactly cervical dystonia is and how it applies to verdicts and settlements.What is Cervical Dystonia?
Cervical dystonia (also referred to as torticollis) is considered a neurological disorder that originates in the brain. The main characteristics of cervical dystonia are involuntary muscle contractions in the neck which cause both the neck and head to have abnormal movements and postures. Sometimes the muscle contractions may be prolonged causing the head to become stuck in an abnormal position. Other times muscle contractions may be more tremor-like and spastic, lasting for brief periods.
Cervical dystonia has the ability to cause severe, radiating pain. The neck and back muscles may be constantly strained, and being stuck in a certain posture can be incredibly uncomfortable. The most common types of abnormal postures caused by cervical dystonia include the chin twisting towards the shoulder, the head tipping forward or backward, or the head being stuck leaning to one side.
Cervical dystonia can seriously impact a person's quality of life and restrict employment opportunities due to their limited movement. Aside from physical discomfort and pain, people with this condition may also face social stigma related to abnormal physical appearance. Once someone develops cervical dystonia the condition is more or less permanent. There is no cure and treatments may only provide temporary relief. Women are more likely to get cervical dystonia, and the average age of onset is between 40 and 60 years of age.What Causes Cervical Dystonia?
The underlying causes of cervical dystonia were essentially unknown for a long time and there is still some uncertainty about how it develops. Research is still ongoing to learn more about the development and progression of this condition. Over the last 10 years, however, a number of studies have established that cervical dystonia can be caused by sudden physical trauma, such as the impact of a car accident. These studies have identified a link between the onset of cervical dystonia and traumatic injuries to the neck such as whiplash. These studies are now widely accepted making cervical dystonia a recognized injury that someone can suffer in an accident.Cervical Dystonia Settlement Value
Cervical dystonia settlement amounts can have a wide range. This is partly because the condition is still being studied and there is still some debate as to whether physical trauma is actually a possible cause of the condition. Juries and insurance adjusters tend to be more skeptical of cervical dystonia claims.
There are some other variables that can influence the value of the claim. A person's prior medical history is considered, as it can determine the possibility of whether the cervical dystonia had a biological cause. The age of the victim is also important, as it is extremely rare for young people to develop this condition.
If you are a lawyer working with a cervical dystonia case, one important thing to point out to the jury is the fact that cervical dystonia is a permanent condition with no cure or effective treatment. The victim will be in pain possibly for the rest of their lives and can have their quality of life severely reduced. Treatments for cervical dystonia are sparse and cannot permanently fix the condition. If severe enough, surgery may be needed, which can come with many complications. Lawyers should also know that the literature shows that specialized physical therapy yield better results than typical PT. If you client is seeking assistance in getting therapy, you want to send the patient to a facility that can provide this higher level of care.Cervical Dystonia Settlements and Verdicts
Below are summaries of reported settlements and verdicts from recent personal injury cases in which cervical dystonia was a primary injury alleged by the plaintiff.
- 2018 Texas $146,457 settlement: The plaintiff developed cervical dystonia after being hit by the defendant's car on a highway. She claimed her injuries gave her physical and emotional distress and was caused by the defendant's reckless speeding. The defendant argued that cervical dystonia could not be caused by a car accident, but the plaintiff brought in an expert witness and convinced the jury otherwise. A settlement was reached for $146,457.
- 2018 Oregon $540,461 settlement: The plaintiff was walking to the restroom in a small hallway slipped and fell on the floor after it had just been mopped by an employee. The plaintiff overextended her arm to break the fall and ended up developing cervical dystonia as well as various other medical conditions. The plaintiff sued the defendant over the fact that the employee neglected to put up a warning sign indicating that the floor was wet, and the jury awarded her with $540,461.
- 2016 Washington $70,000 settlement: The plaintiff was rear-ended by two different defendants, and afterward received a diagnosis of cervical dystonia. The defendants admitted fault for the accident but denied responsibility for the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff was awarded $70,000 for his injuries, with one defendant paying 85% and the other 15%.
- 2012 Washington $4,400,000 settlement: A 58-year-old plaintiff was in the passenger seat of a car when he was struck by the defendant's truck while trying to turn right onto a different street, resulting in a low-speed collision. The plaintiff was treated at the ER for soft tissue injuries in his neck, and 9 months later he developed cervical dystonia. His condition was so severe that he needed 24-hour care, a feeding tube, and a motorized cart for mobility. The defendant claimed his condition was based on a prior stroke the plaintiff experienced, but the jury was not convinced and the plaintiff received a $4,400,000 settlement for his permanent injuries.
If you have been diagnosed with cervical dystonia as a result of acute physical trauma in an auto accident or slip and fall, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Call the injury lawyers at Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or contact us online to discuss your case.