Paralysis is a devastating condition experienced by about 5.4 million individuals in the United States today. Paralysis occurs as a result of a breakdown in the functioning of the spinal cord due to injury or disease. Damage to the spinal cord can block signals from the brain to the nerves, thus rendering the individual unable to move body parts affected by the injured area of the spinal cord. For paralysis to occur, the spinal cord does not need to be severed. A person may still experience a type of paralysis if the SCI is the result of the spinal cord or its protective outer layer of bone being bruised, stretched or crushed.
Complete versus Incomplete paralysis are terms that describe more specifically the ability of the nerves of the spinal column to communicate messages around the site of the paralyzing injury. Complete paralysis indicates there is total lack of feeling and movement capability below the site of the trauma. Incomplete paralysis indicates that some amount of sensation is possible below the injury, due to the ability for some messages to be conveyed past it, though in a compromised capacity.
Paralysis can be caused by a variety of factors, with spinal cord injuries (SCI) serving as the second most common cause at over 27% of cases. In a recent study, , the Reeve Foundation (a leader in the paralysis field), discovered that the previously believed statistic of 250,000 Americans living with SCI paralysis was five times less than the actual number, with the corrected estimate now at 1.2 million. Over 77% of these 1.2 million spinal cord injuries originate from accidents such as truck and motor vehicle collisions, worksite physical labor injuries, falls and sporting or athletic mishaps.
Types of Paralysis
Paraplegia is paralytic injury impacting the mobility and sensation of the torso and legs. The arms and upper torso may also experience some effects in sensation and/or motility depending on the severity and location of the injury to the spinal column, but generally there is still mobility of the arms, neck and head.
The range of the severity of the paraplegic symptoms depends on the location and intensity of the injury. Some paraplegic individuals experience minor immobilization, tingling or lessened sensations in the legs, while others experience total, irreversible loss of movement and feeling from the waist down.
Quadriplegia / Tetraplegia
Tetraplegia, which is also referred to as quadriplegia, is defined as total or complete loss of mobility and/or sensation in all four limbs and the torso. The degree of paralysis and degree of loss of sensation may be subject to the nature, location, severity and time since the trauma. In some cases, immediate intensive treatment and/or extensive rehabilitative therapy has demonstrated success in regaining ranges of sensation and motility. In other cases, individuals may experience tetraplegia so severe that it causes difficulty in breathing independently.
For an SCI to result in tetraplegia, the injury sustained to the spine must occur above the first thoracic vertebra, or in the range of cervical sections of the spine identified as C1-C8. Generally, the higher the location of the injury to the spine, the more absolute the paralytic symptoms.
Most doctors use the word tetraplegia to describe the condition, while paraplegia continues to be more popular with patients. The terms are understood as interchangeable in everyday use.
The distinctions (or “grades”) of paraplegia and quadriplegia can be somewhat complex, due to the range of ways that the human body reacts to damage to the spinal column. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) developed an Impairment Scale (AIS) to categorize the severity of a person’s neurological impairment following spinal cord injury.
ASIA A complete loss of sensory function and motor skills below the injury.
ASIA B some sensory function below the injury, but no motor function.
ASIA C some motor function below the level of injury, but half the muscles cannot move against gravity.
ASIA D more than half of the muscles below the level of injury can move against gravity.
ASIA E restoration of all neurologic function
Causes of Paralysis or Spinal Cord Injury
Your Paralytic Injury Attorney at Lion Law has extensive experience with many cases involving wrecks, mishaps and disasters that can result in tragic consequences including paralysis. Though by no means a complete list, some of the more common types of collisions that appear in SCI personal injury cases are the following:
Complications – The Hidden Costs of Paralysis
Frustratingly, the difficulties of living with a paralytic injury and SCI are not limited to the condition alone. The intricate nature of these injuries means that paralyzed individuals frequently suffer complex complications and additional illness related to their paralysis. Approximately 30% of individuals with SCI are re-hospitalized at least once a year. Duration of hospital stay can vary, but averages at about 22 days. The most recent reporting shows the average cost of a day spent in the hospital in Texas is about $2300, and this does not account for major or specialized procedures or additional associated institutional costs, such as ambulance fees. This means that even before necessary treatments are considered, paralytic injury and SCI patients are at high risk for re-hospitalization bills over $50,000 for just one incident, in just one year.
Financial Impact of Paralysis and SCI
Paralysis by the Numbers
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is the 2nd most common cause of paralysis in the US
It is responsible for 27.3% of paralysis cases
1 in 50 Americans report living with some form of paralysis,
meaning 1.458 million people are paralyzed due to spinal cord injury
28% of households with a paralyzed individual make less than $15,000 per year
Spinal cord injuries cost roughly $40.5 billion annually.
This is 317% higher than costs estimated 20 years ago.
15.5% of paralyzed individuals are employed
41.8% of paralysis victims report they are unable to work
82% of individuals living with paralysis are men
More information by the numbers can be found here, and en español aqui
The High Costs of Paraplegia, Tetraplegia, Quadriplegia
The lifetime cost to a paralyzed individual, and to their support network of family, friends and caretakers, is arguably incalculable due to the far-reaching consequences paralysis has on an individual’s ability to live a normal life. Estimates at lifetime costs, which vary widely based on the age at which the injury was sustained and the severity of the trauma, range between $1,113,990 and $4,724,181. These figures only consider healthcare and life costs, not indirect costs such as consideration of lost wages, productivity and other unquantifiable benefits.
In addition to the hardships that paralytic injury and SCI cause to the individual affected, his or her support network of family and friends is also impacted. Family members often serve as primary caregivers for paraplegic and tetraplegic individuals. There are more than 50 million people providing this type of relational caregiving service each year. The estimated value of this group’s labor is $306 billion annually, and if that number is not astounding enough, it should also be noted that that figure is more than twice as much as the valuation of hospice care and nursing home care combined.
When Lion Law fights for your deserved personal injury compensation, the funds received at settlement can help cover the monumental costs associated with:
- Medical Expenses
- Pain and Suffering
- Reduced Quality of Life
- Lost Wages
- Wrongful Death
- Legal Fees
Living with Paralytic Injury
Adjusting to life with a disability is not only a physical and financial burden, but also presents an array of practical and emotional challenges. Paralyzed individuals frequently have to make adjustments and allocate significantly more time and energy to navigating their lives than able-bodied individuals. The following list of activities, which is by no means comprehensive, illustrates some of the burdens of adapting to life with a paralytic condition:
- Retrofitting current home
- showers; toilets; countertops; power outlets; accessible furniture, paths of access to rooms, doors, gates, exits; navigable flooring; emergency exits; …
- Relocating to an ADA compliant home
- Retrofitting your vehicle(s)
- Finding alternative transportation to work and life obligations
- Wheelchair mobility training
- Ongoing physical therapy
- Ongoing mental health therapy
- Arrange and attend frequent doctor’s appointments
- Extended time away from work for re-hospitalization or health maintenance
- Extended amount of time for daily activities such as preparing meals, showering, maintaining the home, caring for children
- Arranging assistance caring for children
- Arranging assistance maintaining the home
How Lion Law Can Help
Paralytic Injuries Sustained After an Accident – Now What?
Have you or your loved one suffered Paralytic Injuries in a motor vehicle crash or other catastrophic event? The first action item is, of course, to pursue medical care immediately. Obtaining quality medical treatment and carefully following all treatment plans is essential to the best physical outcome.
The next part of the journey is to consult with your Lion Law attorney about what your rights to compensation and reparation may be. Pursuing justice for the victims of accidents that result in injury and loss, especially as devastating as paralysis, is meaningful work to the tenacious team at Thompson Law. Your Paralytic Injury Lawyer will guide the process of opening claims, investigating your case, submitting demands, negotiating settlement, and taking any other legal actions or finalization requirements that result from the settlement. Thompson law has a robust in-house litigation team that is fully prepared to take your case to trial if that becomes necessary.
Can I Expect Compensation for my Paralytic Injury?
Sustaining a serious injury such as paraplegia or tetraplegia due to the negligence or error of another may mean that you are entitled to compensation. There can be multiple parties subject to investigation and claims in the aftermath of a paralytic injury accident. Your legal team at Thompson Law will expertly and compassionately guide you through your options in pursuing legal action, including analyzing the role of responsible parties, determining negligent actions, exploring relevant conditions, and helping you get the compensation you deserve.
|Who is Liable?
||Potential Liability Factors
||Negligence, Drunk Driving, Exceeding Road-Time Limits
||Overloaded or Unbalanced 18-Wheeler Cargo
||Defective Product, Failure to Recall
||Non-Compliance with Safety Regulations (e.g. warehouse, factory)
||Failure to Construct to Standard
||Unsafe Conditions (e.g. failure to maintain roads, bridges)
Specialized Litigators. Specialized Results.
At Thompson Law, we have a formidable track record of success in cases related to spinal cord trauma and paralytic injury. Cases involving these types of dire injuries require extensive research and precise care. Your circumstances will be carefully investigated by our experienced Paralytic Injury Lawyers, who will provide you with expert guidance for your pursuit of medical care, and strategic options for claims and litigation that may win you the compensation you deserve. Reach out to 844-308-8180 today. Let us right the wrongs you suffered, so you can focus on healing.