While they may seem relatively rare, more than 17,700 people suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI) each year. Motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of SCIs, contributing to nearly 40% of all cord injuries. Whether you’ve completely lost the use of your limbs or still have some function, a spinal cord injury can change your life forever. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we have a long history of helping people with spinal cord injuries and their loved ones rebuild and demand justice.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various kinds of cord injuries and how they can impact the value of your claim after an accident.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries
Your spinal cord is made up of a series of complex nerve tissues and runs from your brain to your low back. It transmits messages from the brain and then passes them on to the rest of your body, using spinal nerves. These electrical impulses control most of your body’s conscious and subconscious activities, including walking, talking, breathing, and feeling. While it is protected by a fibrous layer (the dura) and your backbone (vertebral column), it is still prone to injury.
When your spinal cord is crushed, compressed, bruised, or cut, it may be unable to send the brain’s messages to certain spinal nerves. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, ranging from partial strength and movement to complete loss of strength and mobility from the neck down. The most serious cord injuries are fatal.
Doctors and other medical providers categorize SCIs in a variety of ways, focusing on the degree of injury and its location:
- Incomplete: You retain some ability to move and feel below the site of the spinal injury.
- Complete: You lose all sensory and motor function below the site of the spinal injury.
- Paraplegia: Spinal cord damage in your mid or low back causes paralysis or weakness in your legs and lost bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and sensation.
- Quadriplegia or tetraplegia: An injury to your cervical or thoracic cord can lead to paralysis in both your arms and legs, breathing difficulties, lost bowel and bladder control, sexual dysfunction, and other problems.
- Sacral cord injuries: Damage at the very base of your spine can cause leg and hip weakness, bowel and bladder control issues, and sexual dysfunction.
An estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. live with spinal cord injuries.
While trauma can immediately damage the cord, spinal cord injuries can take time to develop. For example, bleeding and swelling can cut off the spinal cord’s oxygen supply, causing its tissues to die. Other times, a bone fragment or debris from a penetrating injury may bruise or break the spinal cord days, weeks, or even months later. Because of this, victims should try to be patient when filing a claim despite the overwhelming fear and anxiety about what to do next. You want to know exactly how your injuries are affecting you before calculating their value. Consider things like ongoing physical therapy, physical and mental comfort, and if you’ll be able to work and live independently.
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Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury
After a serious car accident, you should always call 911 and seek medical treatment. If you suspect a spinal cord injury, prompt medical care is even more important. If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to the ER or your physician for help:
- Loss of movement
- Lost or decreased sensation
- Altered ability to feel heat, cold, or pain
- Changes or loss of function in pelvic organs, including bowels, bladder, and sexual organs
- Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- Pain, such as intense stinging
- Respiratory difficulties, including problems with breathing and clearing your lungs
- Weakness or a lack of coordination and balance
- Severe pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
- Strange twist or position of the neck or back
How a Spinal Cord Injury Can Affect Your Claim
In the past, a spinal cord injury was a dire and potentially life-threatening diagnosis. While you still must take all spinal cord injuries seriously, there have been significant advances in their treatment. In the 1970s, a spinal cord injury survivor would typically spend 24 days in the hospital, followed by 98 days in a rehabilitation center. Today, most people spend 11 days in the hospital and 31 days in intense rehabilitation. However, that doesn’t mean that you still won’t face challenges.
Many people with cord injuries require ongoing medical attention and help with daily tasks and self-care. Depending on the severity of your injury and other factors, you may be unable to work and do other things you love.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we understand how overwhelming it is to live with paraplegia and quadriplegia. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company has offered you a settlement for your spinal cord injuries, you should give us a call. Unlike the insurance adjuster, we’ll help you understand the full value of your claim. We frequently consult with experts, including physicians and long-term care planners, to estimate our clients’ future needs.
Determining Compensation in an Alabama Spinal Cord Injury Claim
According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the average lifetime cost of a spinal cord injury is within the millions. However, the value of your case will depend on a variety of factors, including your medical needs, lost income, pain and suffering, and the number of insurance policies that cover your claim. Your lawyer may also suggest waiting until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before you agree to a settlement. You’ll reach MMI once your condition stabilizes and it’s unlikely that your symptoms will improve. If you settle before you reach this point, you may seriously underestimate your damages.
When you work with Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ll carefully assess all of your losses, including:
- Medical bills, both current and future
- Lost income and wage-earning capacity
- Long-term care needs
- Equipment that helps you live more independently, such as ramps, wheelchairs, and lifts
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Damage to your relationships
Contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys If You Have Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries cause enough pain and stress on their own. The last thing you need after suffering a catastrophic injury is unfair compensation that doesn’t cover your medical expenses or changed quality of life. The lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys are dedicated to ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. We have a long history with catastrophic SCI claims and have the resources to represent you aggressively and effectively.
If you or a loved one is living with a spinal cord injury, please call us today at (251) 888-8888 or complete this brief form to request your free case evaluation with an experienced attorney from the Andy Citrin team.
Costs of living with SCI (n.d.) Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/costs-and-insurance/costs-of-living-with-spinal-cord-injury
Spinal cord injury (SCI) facts and figures at a glance. (2019). National SCI Statistical Center. Retrieved from https://www.nscisc.uab.edu/Public/Facts%20and%20Figures%202019%20-%20Final.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.