Spinal cord injuries, much like TBIs, can permanently alter your life and cause long-term disabilities. If you or your loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, you’re likely dealing with significant medical expenses, lost wages, and serious physical and emotional pain. You may have questions about how to hold the negligent parties responsible — and you deserve answers.
At Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys, we assist injury victims with these often complex claims and help them get the compensation for their catastrophic injuries. To learn more, speak to a Birmingham AL spinal cord injury lawyer today.
Why Are Spinal Cord Injuries So Serious?
The spinal cord transmits messages from the brain to the rest of your body. It consists of bundles of nerves, blood vessels, and tissues. Nerves branch off the spinal cord and travel to your body parts. It starts at your brain stem and ends with a bundle of nerves in your tailbone, called the cauda equina.
Other nerves branch off the spinal cord. These nerves run throughout your body and help send messages from your brain to your limbs and body parts. This complex system controls your voluntary and involuntary motions, including breathing, walking, feeling, and speaking.
When the spinal cord is damaged, these functions are impacted. However, the extent of your disability will depend on where your spinal cord injury is located and its severity.
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury (Neck)
These types of injury impact your function from the neck down, including your arms, legs, lungs, bowels, and bladder. These injuries are sometimes called quadriplegia. However, some people with lower cervical cord injuries do have some use of their arms.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury (Mid-Back)
You may be paralyzed from the chest down, but have normal feeling and use of your arms. People with thoracic cord injuries may have problems with walking, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury (Low Back)
When you injure the lowest part of your spinal cord, you may have paralysis in your hips and legs, problems with walking and standing, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. If your injury is in the very lowest levels of your spinal cord, you may be able to walk with an assistive device.
Complete or Partial Injuries
Another factor that can impact the severity of your symptoms is whether you experienced complete or partial damage to your spinal cord. With a complete injury, your spinal cord is fully severed, resulting in total loss of function and paralysis. In an incomplete injury, you still have some function in your spinal cord, which may allow you to retain some feeling and function. However, even with an incomplete spinal cord injury, you’ll need intensive medical care and rehabilitation.
How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), located at the University of Alabama Birmingham, there are more than 17,700 new spinal cord injuries every year. In 2019, there were an estimated 291,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the United States. While anyone can suffer a spinal cord injury, the average victim is in their 40s and male.
Both traumatic and non-traumatic events can cause a spinal cord injury. However, the following causes are the most common:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Crashes involving cars, trucks, and motorcycles are the top cause of spinal cord injuries. According to 2015 data, 39.3% of these injuries are linked to car wrecks.
- Slip and fall injuries: Almost 32% of spinal cord injuries relate to slip and falls. Older individuals, especially those who are 65 years or older, are especially at risk for fall-related cord injuries. For this reason, responsible nursing facilities set strict fall prevention systems to protect our vulnerable seniors.
- Violence: A shocking 13.5% of spinal cord injuries are caused by violence, including assault, battery, and gun violence. In addition to criminal prosecution, victims of violence may also have personal injury or tort claims against those who attacked them or failed to protect them from violence.
- Sports injuries: Roughly 8% of spinal cord injuries occur during sporting events. Contact sports, such as football, are typically linked to these tragic events. While some injuries are unavoidable, you should always make sure that recreational leagues take adequate precautions to prevent spine and head injuries.
- Medical errors: Less than 5% of spinal cord injuries are linked to medical or surgical errors. However, cord damage can occur during surgeries, diagnostic testing, medical procedures, and certain injection therapies.
What’s My Spinal Cord Injury Worth?
If the negligence of someone else caused your spinal cord injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation. However, calculating damages in a spinal cord injury claim is a complicated process. It’s best to consult with a spinal cord injury lawyer early on. Depending on your situation, you may receive compensation for the following:
- Medical bills, including hospitalization, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing care
- Long-term care, such as a nursing home or in-home care services
- The cost of home and vehicular improvements, like ramps and lifts
- Lost income
- Loss of enjoyment and consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, under certain circumstances
- Funeral and burial expenses
You may need to calculate a lifetime of care and may cost millions of dollars. At Petro Law Firm, we regularly consult with life care planners, physicians, and other experts when estimating our clients’ damages.
Request a Consultation With a Birmingham AL Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
The expert guidance of a spinal cord injury lawyer can help you avoid costly mistakes. Don’t accept the insurance company’s settlement offer without first speaking to an experienced attorney. At Petro Law Firm, we can help you understand your legal options and maximize your chances of receiving just compensation for your injuries. Contact us today.