Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a band of tissue that connects the brain to the lower back, and transmits signals from the brain to control the major functions of the body. It is protected by the stack of bones that make up the vertebral column, and the spinal disks of soft tissue that cushion the vertebrae. However, if trauma to the back is strong enough, the spinal cord can be bruised or even severed. An injury to the spinal cord can result in serious changes to the body’s ability to move and feel sensations below the area that was injured.
People with spinal cord injuries can lead productive lives, but it can take long-term and intensive treatment and therapies. If the injury was caused by another party’s negligence, the victim may be entitled to financial compensation.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
These are some of the common ways spinal injuries occur:
- Vehicle crashes. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Car drivers and passengers are affected, but also pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars, motorcyclists, and ATV drivers.
- Falls and falling objects. A workplace that exposes its employees to falling hazards could be liable for a spinal cord injury.
- Medical mistakes. An error during surgery can cause a spinal cord injury, and the surgeon could be liable.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries can be described as incomplete and complete.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries, which are less severe with fewer debilitating symptoms, have become more common due to improvements in treatment and proper early response. A patient with an incomplete spinal cord injury may have some moderate changes to their sensory and motor functions, but others may lose sensation and mobility in both legs and one arm (triplegia).
- Anterior cord syndrome. This is an injury to the front of the spinal cord. The patient experiences difficulties in moving but may keep their ability to feel sensation.
- When the nerves in the center of the cord are damaged, the injury is called central cord syndrome. The patient will likely have paralysis in their arms and some impairment in their legs.
- If the patient experiences paralysis on only one side of the body, the diagnosis may be Brown-Sequard syndrome, which is a result of injury to one side of the spinal cord.
Complete spinal cord injuries mean the patient’s spinal cord is unable to send nerve signals to the body below the site of the injury. If the patient was injured in the lower back, they may retain motor and sensory functions in their arms and torso but lose it in their legs, which is called paraplegia. For patients injured in the upper back, the patient may lose the motor and sensory functions in the legs, torso and arms, which is called quadriplegia.
Why Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury caused by another party’s negligence – such as a vehicle accident, workplace accident or medical mistake – results in an enormous financial burden for the victim and their family.
A personal injury lawyer negotiates with insurance companies to claim the maximum fair amount of damages for their client. A lawyer helps their client claim compensation for:
- Medical costs. Treatment and rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries is long-term and expensive. The client will likely need extended time in the hospital, surgery, testing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. If a client has paralysis, they will likely need multiple assistive devices such as wheelchairs and will have to outfit their home with devices to support their daily activities.
- Lost income. Though a spinal cord injury does not mean the client can not work in the future, they will need extensive time away from work to focus on their treatment and adapting to their new life. The client may not be able to return to the career they led before the accident and retrain for another type of job. In some cases, the client will have a permanent disability and miss out on years of future income.
- Pain and suffering. Losing sensory and motor functions will likely have profound mental and emotional effects on the client as they come to terms with the changes in their body and lifestyle. Damages for pain and suffering provide financial peace of mind while the client deals with the realities of their injury.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you need an expert legal team to help you claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.