Spinal cord injuries are among the most permanently debilitating injuries we can suffer. From numbness to complete paralysis, spinal cord injuries can affect victims for the rest of their lives, and their families face severe financial and emotional distress while caring for them.
At the Brain Injury Law Center, we have built a strong reputation for our vigorous pursuit of justice for the victims of brain and spinal injuries. We strive to get our clients the compensation they need to move on the best they can in life.
- Section 1 What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
- Section 2 Risk Factors for a Spinal Cord Injury
- Section 3 The Lifetime Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury
- Section 4 Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Section 5 Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
- Section 6 Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
- Section 7 Degrees and Severity of Spinal Cord Injury
- Section 8 Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis
- Section 9 Treatment, Rehabilitation and Recovery
- Section 10 Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
- Section 11 What Type of Damages Can I Receive After a Spinal Cord Injury?
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord, which can have a wide range of impacts. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves within the spinal column, or backbone. These nerves carry messages between the brain and body. Damage to these nerves can result in full or partial loss of motor control and sensation, called paralysis.
Spinal cord injuries can leave victims paralyzed in the lower parts of the body. These victims are known as paraplegics. A person who is paralyzed in all four limbs is a quadriplegic. Paralysis is typically permanent, and it is a life-changing injury.
Because the spinal cord is responsible for a range of bodily functions like breathing, body temperature, bladder and sexual functioning, accident victims can suffer a broad range of permanent and serious health problems.
Risk Factors for a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at anytime. Men, however, are at higher risk for suffering a spinal cord injury. Four of every five spinal cord injury victims are men, and more than half of those men suffered their injuries in the course of work.
While most spinal injuries occur in early- to mid-adulthood, the elderly are also at risk for a spinal cord injury due to falls. Seniors are more likely to have a pre-existing condition, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, which can increase the risk of a spinal cord injury should a slip or fall occur.
The Lifetime Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury
Average yearly health care and living expenses for victims of spinal cord injuries can be monumental.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, costs can easily top $800,000 per year for the first year, and then $100,000 per year every year afterward.
The costs depend greatly on how badly someone was hurt. For some, particularly quadriplegics, this can mean millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
Even when insurance and government assistance is taken into account, there is still often not enough money to cover everything that is needed. That’s why it is important that your family speak to an experienced spinal cord injury attorney about seeking compensation to cover these costs.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Acts of violence, such as gunshots or assault
- Recreational sports activities
Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by medical errors during surgical procedures.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
Symptoms of spinal cord injuries are sometimes detected immediately following the injury, but it may take days or even months for the scale of the injury to become clear. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of feeling
- Difficulty moving
- Breathing problems
- Weakness in muscles
- Spastic muscles
- Heart rate problems
- High or low blood pressure
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Digestive problems
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
Thousands of Americans suffer spinal cord injuries every year. The following statistics give a quick overall picture of spinal cord injury in the U.S.:
- About 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury occur each year.
- There are approximately 259,000 people in the U.S. living with a spinal cord injury.
- The average age at time of the injury is 40.2 years.
Degrees and Severity of Spinal Cord Injury
The seriousness of a spinal cord injury will determine the appropriate treatment, as well as what sort of compensation you may be able to obtain by hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit. Degrees of spinal cord injury include:
- Complete: The injured person has lost almost all sensory feeling and ability to control movement.
- Incomplete: A person with this category of injury will have some sensory or motor function below the areas affected by the injury.
- Tetraplegia or quadriplegia: All limbs and most of the body are affected.
- Paraplegia: Paralysis affects all or part of the torso, pelvic organs and legs.
Read More on: Levels of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis
The prognosis after a spinal cord injury will vary widely depending on the part of the spinal cord that was injured, the severity of the injury and which nerves are damaged.
Generally, recovery will occur within the first six months following injury. After six months, additional recovery is unlikely.
Treatment, Rehabilitation and Recovery
Treatment of spinal cord injury can include medication and surgery. Spinal cord injuries typically will always require physical therapy.
The treatment is divided into two stages: acute and rehabilitation. Acute is the phase that begins at the time of injury. It lasts until the person is stabilized. Rehabilitation begins as soon as the person has stabilized and is ready to begin working toward independence.
Treating a spinal injury is expensive and exhausting. It places suffering on victims and their families that they don’t deserve.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
Spinal cord injuries are often caused by negligence. A lawsuit is based on the theory that someone else was responsible for your injury. It didn’t have to happen.
The job of you attorney is to prove that someone’s negligence resulted in your injury. At the Brain Injury Law Center, we have decades of experience building strong cases on behalf of brain and spinal injury victims and their families.
What Type of Damages Can I Receive After a Spinal Cord Injury?
An experienced spinal cord injury attorney may be able to recover the following damages:
Medical bills: This can include reimbursement for all medical bills resulting from the injury, including hospital bills, ambulance rides, prescription drugs, doctor visits and rehabilitation, as well as any future medical expenses.
Lost wages: Compensation for time spent away from work, as well as a loss of earning capacity, may also be awarded.
Pain and suffering: Victims can experience lasting physical and emotional pain. These victims can receive monetary damages for this pain and suffering.
Wrongful death: When a spinal cord injury results in death, the victim’s family may be able to sue the negligent party. In these cases, the family may be eligible for damages based on their pain and suffering, as well as money to ease the financial burden left by their loved one’s absence.
To make sure you are in the best position to get what you need to move forward in life, contact the Brain Injury Law Center today. We have a nationwide reputation for our handling of brain and spinal injury cases. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, contact us at (757) 244-7000 or contact us online. Consultations are always free and without obligation.