A spinal cord injury (SCI) can dramatically change the victim’s life, as well as the lives of his or her loved ones. According to data from Paralyzed Veteran of America, about 12,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries every year in the U.S. In addition to the pain and suffering endured, spinal cord victims face emotional and mental pain, not to mention a lifetime of extreme financial hardships and reduced employment. Whether it’s you or someone you love, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side will ensure that your rights are protected.
Understanding a Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord, backbone, or vertebrae extends from the base of your skull to your lower back. The spine has a variety of nerves that are responsible for body movements and sensations. Most spinal cord injuries normally begin with trauma, which dislocates or fractures the vertebrae. Common causes of SCI include:
- Motor vehicle – the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that car and truck accidents account for 38% of the annual spinal cord injuries.
- Slips and falls – this is the second most common cause of spinal cord injuries as it accounts for 30.5% of the annual spine injuries. Older adults are more susceptible to spine injuries from slips and falls.
- Motorcycle accidents – the absence of external protection in a motorcycle implies that even minor accidents can be deadly.
- Other causes include– medical negligence, sports injuries, swimming pool accidents, a variety of recreation activities and product defects.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury could result in damage to one or multiple parts of the vertebral column. The type of spinal cord injury depends on the impact it has on the victim’s motor function and loss of sensation. As such, spinal cord injuries are classified into complete and incomplete injuries.
In a complete SCI, the victim loses sensation from and the ability to move below the injury site.
Complete SCI can be further classified into:
- Paraplegia – when SCI occurs in the lower back, it may cause partial paralysis to the victim’s pelvic region and legs.
- Tetraplegia – trauma to the neck region or the cervical vertebrae may result in the loss of motor function or paralysis to all limbs. This is also referred to as quadriplegia.
Short-Term and Long-Term SCI Injuries
Most SCI victims lose the ability to lead a normal life after the accident. This is extremely distressing, especially for a person who is no longer able to work and take care of themselves. Spinal cord injuries may result in such medical conditions as:
- Chronic pain
- Partial or full paralysis
- Inability to control the bowel movements or bladder
- Susceptibility to respiratory infections and illnesses
- Difficulties in regulating blood pressure and body temperature
- Impairment or loss of sexual function
Treatment and Expenses Associated with SCI Care
Medical care is expensive. When you are involved in a sudden accident and suffer a spinal cord injury, the cost of treatment is a major concern. Fortunately, if the accident was caused by a negligent driver, you can hold them liable. Some of the treatment costs for spinal cord injuries include:
When a person sustains an SCI, immediate care is imperative in order to prevent further injury. During the emergency care, doctors will diagnose whether your spine has been injured and assess the severity and extent of the damage.
In most cases, SCI victims are required to be admitted to a hospital in order to keep them as stabilized as possible and monitor them for possible complications. Unfortunately, apart from realigning the spine, most spinal cord injuries are irreversible. Doctors mostly focus on preventing other problems such as bladder or bowel issues, infections, and blood clots. The daily hospital costs in Dallas can add up quickly.
Some spinal cost injuries require surgeries in order to correct or repair the damages. Victims will also incur the costs of post-operative care.
As mentioned, a spinal cord injury may result in temporary or permanent paralysis. In both instances, the victim will require special care and the use of medical equipment. However, permanent paralysis may demand the long-term use of equipment such as a special bed, a high-tech wheelchair, a respiratory machine, feeding tubes, and so on, all of which add to the total treatment costs.
Almost all SCI victims require months or years of occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling and other forms of ongoing treatment before they either fully recover or can cope with their new way of life.
Whether an SCI result in temporary or permanent paralysis, medical costs can cost millions of dollars. In a study on the cost of living with SCI, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimates that the average cost of treatment during the first–year amounts to $1 million. This includes the initial hospital costs, home modification costs, cost of rehabilitation, and the acquisition of medical equipment such as a wheelchair. Victims are forced to incur more than $200,000 in bills in subsequent years.
Why seek legal redress?
Often, SCI victims are forced to take loans, take second mortgages, and max out their credit cards as their insurance policies cannot fully cover the cost of SCI treatment. If the injury was due to another person’s negligence, you can file a lawsuit against them. Negligent actions in car or truck accidents include drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving or texting while driving, failure to obey traffic lights, and driving a vehicle with mechanical damages.
A personal injury attorney will help you get compensation for:
- Medical expenses – apart from the initial costs of treating a spinal cord injury, treatment could extend for years or even a lifetime. An attorney will help you calculate the anticipated costs of future treatment and make sure you are adequately compensated.
- Lost wages or the loss of earning ability – an SCI victim will have to take some time off in order to recover. Even after they recover, they may be forced to work part-time or take a lower-paying position. In the case of a severe injury, the victim may no longer be able to work. A personal injury attorney will, in most cases hire a vocational expert who assesses the victim’s residual earning capacity and ensures that this is accounted for in the settlement amount.
- Pain and suffering – SCI victims not only suffer physical pain but also go through emotional anguish due to factors such as; struggling with bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, difficulty walking, or being confined to a wheelchair. All these can lead to extreme mental trauma for which you need to be compensated for.
- Loss of companionship – affected parties such as parents, spouses, and children can get compensation for the effects of the SCI.
Contact an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorney at Thompson Law
At Thompson Law, we understand the difficulties that all SCI victims and their families go through. Our experienced team of attorneys are dedicated to helping you get the justice you deserve. We perform free case evaluations and explain your legal options. We do not charge any upfront fees, rather, you’ll only pay after we’ve won your case. Call us now at 844-308-8180.