Every year, more than 17,000 persons in the United States are diagnosed with spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, can be life-altering for SCI victims. It is expected that SCI patients will have an extended stay in the hospital, followed by time spent in a rehabilitation facility. This could result in constant worry about mounting medical expenditures or even losing your job.

For those who have sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, it is crucial to acquire extensive information on how to handle their personal injury case. In this blog post, we'll discuss the basic principles of spinal cord injuries, including their causes and potential legal options..

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)

Spinal cord injuries occur when any section of the spinal cord is damaged. They could also involve injury to the cauda equina, the collection of sensory nerves at the end of the spinal cord. The spinal cord acts as a messenger, relaying signals from the brain to other body parts. A spinal cord injury can often result in permanent alterations in strength, sensation, and other bodily functions beneath the injury site.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, motor vehicle accidents account for 39.08 percent of all spinal cord injuries, making car, truck, motorcycle, and vehicle accidents the main cause of spinal cord injuries.

Other factors include falls, violent attacks, and sporting activities. The predicted lifetime expenditures of spinal cord injuries differ significantly depending on the seriousness of the injuries. Treatment costs for minor impairments in motor function can be quite expensive.

Spinal cord injuries can result from trauma to the back, spine, or any of the 33 vertebrae in the neck, back, or tailbone. Serious injuries can cause the spinal cord to be severed or torn. Injuries to the spinal cord, such as those caused by blunt force trauma or crushing injuries to the vertebrae or discs (the cartilage that cushions the space between your vertebrae), can lead to a loss of feeling or motion.

Any numbness or immobility felt starts at the site of damage and continues downward. A victim may have numbness or paralysis in the following areas, depending on the severity of the spinal cord injury:

  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Abdomen
  • Chest
  • Legs

Different Types of SCIs

The force and location of the impact on the spine determine the kind of spinal cord damage a person may sustain. There are two primary types of spinal cord injuries: incomplete and complete SCIs.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries indicate that the vertebral column is not entirely severed. Because a part of the spine stays intact, the person retains some function.

The degree of damage determines how much functionality the person has and how well he or she recovers. Patients experiencing incomplete spinal cord injuries could experience weakness or numbness in their arms and legs, as well as radiating pain.

A complete spinal cord injury causes a complete loss of sensation and strength below the point of injury. Patients who have suffered complete injury hardly, if ever, regain substantial strength or sensibility below the point of injury. Fortunately, treatment and therapy can help you restore some function.

Paraplegia is the medical term for a loss of motor control, sometimes known as paralysis, that impacts the lower limbs and the pelvis. When the hands, arms, trunk, pelvic organs, and legs are affected, the condition is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia.

Tetraplegia causes an individual to lose mobility and the capacity to use every limb. The patient also loses the capacity to feel beneath the injury site. The further up in the vertebral column the total injury occurs, the worse the patient's condition becomes.

Quadriplegia can cause bladder dysfunction and respiratory difficulties, among other issues. Triplegia happens when a person loses sensation in both legs and one leg, while quadriplegia causes a loss of sensation in both legs.

Additional signs of a SCI are:

  • Tingling, numbness, changes, or a loss of feeling in the feet and hands
  • Paralysis can occur immediately or develop as a result of spinal cord swelling and bleeding
  • Pain and pressure in the neck, head, or back
  • Unable to move various parts of the body
  • Abnormal spinal and head postures
  • Lack of control over one's bowels and bladder
  • Sexual function changes
  • Difficulty breathing

Diagnosing Spinal Cord Injuries

Following a traumatic incident, for example, a motorbike, bicycle, pedestrian, or automobile accident, a victim could develop back pain and numbness, along with other signs that indicate a spinal injury. In many emergency rooms, the first step in administering emergency medical care is taking an X-ray of the affected area. X-rays can only detect injuries in "hard tissue" such as bone fractures.

If your symptoms continue, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a medical professional such as a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic doctor.

Additional radiographic examinations, such as computerized tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are frequently used to detect "soft tissue" injuries, such as dislodged discs that apply stress to the nerves found in and surrounding the spine.

Treating Spinal Cord Injuries

Emergency medical care is administered to stabilize and then evaluate patients with serious spinal cord injuries. Subsequently, surgical procedures are performed to treat the injury.

Following surgical treatment, the patient receives intense rehabilitation medical treatment, which could involve twice-daily treatments in either an outpatient or inpatient environment. Patients suffering from severe quadriplegia or tetraplegia typically need permanent support with everyday life activities and self-care routines.

A patient could be transported to a state spine injury facility, where orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, spinal cord treatment specialists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and physiotherapists who specialize in spine injuries can help them recover.

Who Is At Fault For My Spinal Cord Injury?

Often, SCIs result from negligence. This could be a reckless driver who damages your car or a company that produces a product that harms you. Regardless of the specifics of the case, you should prove that the individual or entity you are suing bears legal responsibility for the injuries sustained.

In an automobile accident, you can file lawsuits against the other motorist and their insurance company. Any party involved in the production or distribution of the goods could be liable for any injury that comes from a faulty product.

What Compensation Can I Receive Following a Spinal Cord Injury?

You may be able to get financial assistance to cover both the monetary and non-monetary costs associated with your spinal cord injury if you file a compensation claim.

Economic damages include out-of-pocket expenses and loss of earning capacity as a result of the injury. Some examples are:

Medical Costs

The price of treatment alone might run into the hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars, based on how many surgical operations you would require. Recoveries made by your attorney could go a long way toward covering the costs of your treatments, recovery, and medications. Future expenses will be assessed and acknowledged.

Lost Wages

Do you need time off from work? Damages might also include lost wages and prospective revenue loss. If your employer required you to work fewer hours or stay at home due to restricted mobility brought on by the accident, your finances would suffer.

It may take several months for you to recover fully. The lawsuit seeks to compensate you for what you have lost and might lose as a result of being injured by someone else. It will give you a feeling of normalcy as you work on recovering.

In-Home Assistance

Once you come home from the medical facility, you might have to make a few adjustments to deal with the injuries. Most injury-related lawsuits include requests for support and modifications.

In this case, if you do not have anyone living with you who can assist you, you may need to hire somebody to prepare meals, clean, and take care of your home. If applicable, funds are often recovered to create a wheelchair ramp, expand the doorway, and make other changes to assist with the adjustment to a new way of life.

Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that cannot be quantified financially. In addition, a personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for the following:

Pain and Suffering

Prioritizing your recovery is important. Many people underestimate or pay no attention to their well-being. However, this may lead to consequences that can be addressed or compensated for. The emotional distress and pain resulting from the physical harm caused by the spinal injury should be evident. However, tort statutes can restrict how much you can seek compensation. Therefore, consulting a law firm for a more detailed discussion is advisable.

Loss of Consortium

This may affect your loved ones, whether or not you are aware of it. The goal of the loss of consortium is to compensate individuals for the harm they endured. However, the outcome depends on the specific circumstances and dynamics of their relationship. Loss of consortium is more commonly used in cases involving wrongful death.

Punitive Damages

In such a case, the defendant's actions or inaction that resulted in your spinal injury would be punished as compensation for the damages.

The available compensation in a spinal injury case could vary depending on the circumstances, including how the injury and accident affected you, the severity of the injuries, and your specific diagnosis. An attorney can collaborate with you to compile a detailed list of special and general losses that can be included in a personal injury lawsuit.

Average Settlement for Spine Injury Cases

Personal injury claims do not have a standard settlement amount. The determination of case values is based on numerous factors thoroughly evaluated by insurance companies, judges, or juries before awarding compensation. An important factor to consider is the severity of the injury. For example, a severe spinal injury resulting in permanent paralysis can carry a higher value compared to a minor injury to the back due to its significant impact on the victim's life.

Personal injury claims can reimburse victims for all the injury's long-term costs. Due to the seriousness of the condition, spinal cord injury cases can potentially have a high monetary value. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that for a 25-year-old victim, the average lifetime cost (including living and healthcare expenses) of a spinal cord injury is between $2 million and $4.6 million. Before accepting any insurance offer, you should consult a lawyer about your claim's worth.

The Benefits of Consulting a Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

If you or someone you care about suffered a spinal injury and you want to initiate a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation, be prepared for challenges that may arise during the legal proceedings. Insurance providers prioritize their financial gains over the disbursements to their policyholders. They can use tactics of insurance bad faith to evade paying the full compensation.

To ensure your protection, it is advisable to engage the services of a skilled attorney specializing in spinal cord injury cases.

A lawyer can assist you in several ways during your spinal injury claim, such as:

  • Investigating the incident that caused your injuries
  • Investigating to find evidence of wrongdoing and determining the individual(s) responsible for the offense
  • Preserving and gathering evidence to back up your case
  • Handling legal procedures and complex claims paperwork
  • Submitting your injury claim within California's statutory deadline of two years
  • Evaluating the prospective worth of your personal injury lawsuit
  • Pursuing justice through aggressive and proven legal strategies
  • Engaging highly skilled specialists to support your case
  • Taking your case to court

By enlisting the services of a lawyer to handle your claims, you may concentrate on restoring your life. Your attorney will represent you in negotiations with an insurer's claims adjuster, working to secure the result you require for a permanent or long-term injury. This covers expected medical costs in the future. Your attorney will not retreat from a legal battle against an insurer or the responsible party, even if it means taking the case to court.

FAQs About Spine Injury

Professional personal injury attorneys are well-versed in the complications that come with back and spine injuries. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of future circumstances when contemplating legal proceedings. Below are some of the most common queries regarding spinal injury cases.

What Is The Deadline For Filing A Spinal Cord Injury Case?

The California statute of limitations for personal injury cases usually lasts 2 years from the date the incident occurred. However, there are compelling reasons for engaging a seasoned personal injury lawyer right from the time of the incident and injury.

These include the following:

  • Valuable proof disappears quickly as memories fade. It is crucial to preserve witness statements and physical evidence immediately
  • Legal assistance is necessary for serious injuries from the moment you sustain them until the case is resolved. It's never too early to begin developing a solid medical and legal basis for your claim
  • The statute of limitations could be shortened if an institutional defendant—such as a city employee—caused the injury.

Do I Need To Prove Negligence In A Spinal Injury Claim?

The main objective of a competent personal injury attorney is to prove negligence in a spinal cord injury case. Your personal injury lawyer must demonstrate the following:

  • The offender owed the victim a duty of care
  • The duty of care was violated
  • The incident and your spinal cord injury were caused by a violation of duty, whether through commission or omission.
  • You sustained injury and loss due to the accused’s actions

What Distinguishes Spinal Cord Injury Claims From Other Types Of Cases?

Spinal cord injury lawsuits are complicated due to the fact that spinal cord injuries are severe and fatal injuries. These lawsuits usually involve filing lawsuits against multiple parties who caused the harm you suffered and integrating various medical specialties.

Additionally, the injuries are extremely costly. The projected lifetime expenses for an individual with paralysis amount to millions of dollars, excluding any potential income loss or reduction in medical coverage.

What Happens If The Potential Effects Of Spinal Cord Injury Are Ignored?

If an individual suffers spinal trauma but does not seek medical treatment, he or she could face negative consequences. These include severe nerve damage and paralysis. Individuals should promptly seek medical treatment whenever they sustain any harm to their spinal column.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Sustaining spinal cord injuries can affect your quality of life. The injured victim could go through a lengthy, challenging, and costly recovery process, potentially leading to a lifetime of continuous medical care and related costs and losses. If you sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident or another incident caused by someone else's negligence, you can contact us at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm.

We can conduct a thorough investigation to determine the magnitude of your losses, including forecasting future costs and losses, and vigorously seek the compensation that you require and are entitled to. Our California personal spinal cord injury lawyers are ready to help you. Call us at 800-492-6718.