If you have recently been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, you are undoubtedly concerned and confused. You may not understand your future prospects or your legal options to ensure you have the funds necessary to pay for ongoing medical care or to make up for your inability to work.
Continue reading to learn more about spinal cord injuries, including the compensation you may be able to seek in a personal injury claim.
What Types of Spinal Cord Injuries Can Occur?
The spinal cord is a column of nerve tissue that connects your brain to your lower back. It is covered by protective tissue and is surrounded by vertebrae. The spinal cord is responsible for sending messages to and from your brain to other parts of your body.
When the spinal cord is damaged, the bundle of nerves that carry messages to the brain is impaired, which can lead to a partial or full loss of motor control and sensation below the level of injury. Spinal cord injuries can result in impairment to the body’s systems that control sensory, motor, and autonomic functions.
Classifications of spinal cord injuries (SCIs) include:
- Complete – A spinal cord injury is considered complete if all feeling and control are lost below the spinal cord injury site.
- Incomplete – An incomplete spinal cord injury is present if you have some feeling or control below the spinal cord injury site. There are different degrees of incomplete SCIs.
- Tetraplegia – Tetraplegia is a form of paralysis in the extremities and pelvic organs. The arms, hands, buttocks, legs, and feet are affected by the spinal cord injury.
- Paraplegia – Paraplegia affects the lower half of the body, including the legs, pelvic organs, and buttocks.
No matter what type of SCI you’ve sustained, an experienced Augusta personal injury attorney will work hard to pursue justice and accountability for your harm.
How Common Are Spinal Cord Injuries?
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 17,000 new spinal cord injuries occur in the United States every year. Between 250,000 and 450,000 Americans are living with an SCI.
What Are the Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries are usually caused by trauma to the vertebrae, ligaments, or discs of the spinal column.
Spinal cord injuries are often due to:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Recreational activities
- Gunshot wounds and other violent attacks
Various medical conditions can also cause spinal cord injuries, including arthritis and cancer. If someone else’s negligence caused your spinal cord injury, an experienced personal injury lawyer can investigate your claim and determine your legal options.
What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a person may have a spinal cord injury if they have any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of movement to the affected part of the body
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat and cold
- Altered sensation
- A tingling sensation in the affected area of the body
- Pain in the affected area of the body
- Changes in sexual function or sensitivity
- Respiratory problems
The symptoms will depend on the severity of the injury and where it occurred on the spinal cord.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Treated?
There is no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord. Therefore, treatment options are centered on reducing pain, preventing further injury, and teaching spinal cord injury victims how to cope with their injury.
Possible treatment options may include:
- Immobilization – Emergency treatment focuses on immobilizing the patient’s neck to prevent any further injury. Traction may be necessary to stabilize or align the patient’s spine.
- Medication – Patients may receive intravenous medicine after a spinal cord injury. Medications may also be prescribed to control pain and muscle spasticity.
- Surgery – Patients may require surgery to remove bone fragments, foreign objects, or fractured vertebrae. Alternatively, it may be necessary to stabilize the spine and prevent further injury or complications.
- Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation focuses on helping spinal cord injury patients lead happy and productive lives. Multifaceted teams may help patients redevelop fine motor skills, strengthen muscle function, and adapt to their injury.
New treatments to stimulate cell growth and prevent the death of other cells are constantly being researched.
What Compensation Is Available in Spinal Cord Injury Cases?
Every spinal cord injury case is different, so their values and the potential items you can receive compensation for can also differ. The potential compensation you can recover in a spinal cord injury case depends on many factors, including the extent of your damages.
Damages is the legal term for the losses you have suffered because of the injury.
Damages may include:
- Medical expenses – Spinal cord injuries are often very expensive to treat. You may be able to receive payment for hospital bills, doctor’s bills, therapist sessions, rehabilitation, medications, and other costs. You can also recover compensation for medical expenses you have not yet paid but anticipate incurring in the future.
- Lost income – You can also recover compensation for the wages and employment benefits you lost while recovering from your injury. Since many spinal cord injuries cause paralysis or other permanent disabilities, you can also seek compensation for your lost earning capacity if your injuries leave you permanently disabled.
- In-home assistance and renovations – You may need ongoing care and may need to adapt your surroundings to your disability. You can seek compensation for these expenses. You can also seek compensation for any services you need to pay for, such as cooking, cleaning, and transportation.
- Pain and suffering – Spinal cord injuries can lead to extreme pain and suffering, coupled with significant emotional anguish, as you come to terms with the life you once imagined being gone. The law allows you to seek compensation for these negative effects on your life.
- Loss of consortium – The law also provides an avenue for certain family members to recover compensation for the negative impact the injuries have had on relationships.
Other factors that can affect the value of your claim include your age and health, the strength of the evidence you have, the reason for your injury, the available insurance, and the severity of your injuries.
An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can give you a better idea about the potential compensation you can recover for your spinal cord injury.
Contact an Experienced Augusta Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Recovering Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury
At Hawk Law Group, our lawyers have more than 71 years of combined experience. We have garnered widespread respect and recognition due to the successes we have experienced in and out of the courtroom. Our lawyers understand the complexities of spinal cord injury cases and will be with you every step of the way. Contact us today at (706) 722-3500 for your free, no-obligation case review.