Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
Car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. About 11,000 people each year suffer a spinal cord injury, the severity of which depends on which part of the spine is damaged. Some people may recover completely from their injuries, while others may permanently lose all limb function and require a lifetime of medical care.
An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer at Bley & Evans knows that injuries to the spine are complex, and it’s important to make sure that any compensation injury victims receive will be enough to cover their medical needs – whether those needs are short-term or expected to last a lifetime.
Call us today to request your free consultation, at 844-443-8385.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs throughout the spinal column, which contains four specific sections of vertebrae:
- Cervical vertebrae, numbered C1 through C7, in the neck (the C7 vertebra contains two sets of nerves: C7 and C8)
- Thoracic vertebrae, numbered T1 through T12, in the upper back
- Lumbar vertebrae, numbered L1 through L5, in the lower back
- Sacral vertebrae, numbered S1 through S5, in the pelvis.
Injuries to the cervical nerves are the most serious. An injury at or above the C3 vertebra damages the nerves that control breathing, so this type of injury is often fatal. A person who survives this injury will need to be connected to a ventilator at all times and be completely dependent on others for all care.
Injuries to the C4 through C8 nerves will result in some degree of tetraplegia (also called quadriplegia), which is the loss of feeling and movement in all four limbs.
Thoracic spine injuries cause paraplegia, the loss of sensation and movement in the legs, and may interfere with normal bodily function below the point of injury. Bladder and bowel dysfunction is commonly associated with this type of injury. People with lumbar injuries may still be able to walk with braces or crutches.
Spinal cord injuries are referred to as complete, or incomplete, which means there is some sensation or movement below the point of injury. According to a paper published in the Global Spine Journal, incomplete tetraplegia accounts for 30.1 percent of spinal cord injuries. Complete paraplegia accounts for 25.6 percent of injuries, followed by complete tetraplegia (20.4 percent) and incomplete paraplegia (18.5 percent).
About 60 percent of spinal cord injury victims develop pneumonia, and 52.8 percent develop pressure ulcers. Pneumonia, heart disease, and infections account for the most deaths among spinal cord injury patients.
People with complete tetraplegia are at high risk for serious secondary conditions that include:
- Deep vein thrombosis – This condition occurs when blood clots form in the legs, due to inactivity. When undetected, these clots can travel through the veins to the heart, lungs, or brain and cause a fatal injury.
- Neuropathic pain – This type of pain occurs when damaged spinal cord nerves send mixed or erroneous signals to parts of the body below the point of injury. Pain may become chronic, and it’s often difficult to treat. In some cases, it may become more severe over time.
- Autonomic dysreflexia – This condition is a dangerous increase in blood pressure that requires emergency medical treatment.
- Spasticity – Underused or unused muscles may contract and cause uncontrolled spasms and motion.
Ongoing Medical Care and Costs
About 30 percent of spinal cord injury victims require additional stays in the hospital at least once during any year after their injury. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, these are the average yearly health care costs and living expenses for people with specific spinal cord injuries:
- C1 through C4 injuries: $1,065,980 (first year); $185,111 (each subsequent year)
- C5 through C8 injuries: $770,264 (first year); $113, 557 (each subsequent year)
- Paraplegia: $519,520 (first year); $68,821 (each subsequent year)
Those costs can easily amount to millions of dollars during a lifetime – and they don’t include estimated loss of income.
Getting the Help You Need
A severe spinal cord injury can be emotionally and financially devastating. The cost of medical care is often far more than what health insurance policies cover, and disability benefits alone cannot support families. But if someone else’s carelessness or negligence caused your spinal cord injury, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim and get the compensation you need.