A spinal cord injury is a devastating blow. It may mean years of rehabilitation if recovery is possible. In all situations, individuals suffer pain, significant mobility limitations, and a drop in their quality of life. What makes this worse is when the problem is brought on through no fault of your own. When someone else’s negligence leads to your loss, you may have a legal case against them. Spinal cord injury lawyers can help. At Doehrman Buba Attorneys at Law, we help individuals get the best possible compensation in these situations.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a large bundle of nerves that travel from the brain down the middle of the back through the spinal column. These nerves work as message ways where the brain communications with the tissues, organs, and other connective components of the body. A spinal cord injury is any type of injury or damage to these nerves. These types of injuries can create devastating consequences. When the messages cannot move from the brain to the legs, arms, or other areas, it becomes impossible to move them. Some people may become a paraplegic, an occurrence in which it is not possible to move the lower parts of the body. A quadriplegic is a person unable to use any of his or her limbs.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are frequently associated with:
- Auto accidents
- Surgical errors
- Recreational sporting accidents/school sport injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Assault and battery (including domestic assault)
- Gunshot, stabbing, and other acts of violence
- A sudden and traumatic blow to the head, neck, back, or spine
These are only a few of the most common spinal cord injury causes. In some cases, spinal cord injury may arise as a result of disease, including cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, spinal disk degeneration, or certain bacterial or viral infections.
Experts have also found a correlation between spinal cord injury and the use of alcohol, though alcohol itself does not directly damage the spine. Rather, humans abusing alcohol are more likely to cause accidents that injure the spinal cord. Drunk drivers, for example, are more likely to cause an auto accident that will lead to a spinal cord injury.
Indeed, auto accidents remain the leading cause of spinal cord injury, accounting for nearly half of all new spine injuries in the United States every year.
Who Is Responsible for Your Losses?
Individuals involved in a car accident in which the other party caused the accident may benefit from contacting a spinal cord injury attorney. Another person may be responsible for your losses if certain conditions are met.
Negligence occurs when a person or business has a responsibility for creating a safe environment, fails to do so, and someone suffers financial loss as a result. Here are some examples:
- A drunk driver causes an accident, and you suffer a spinal cord injury. The driver is responsible for your injuries.
- You fall down the steps at a retail location because the step was broken. The owner knew the step was broken, had time to fix it, and did not do so.
- A doctor makes a mistake during a surgical procedure and damages your spinal column or column as a result.
Proving negligence can be challenging, which is why it is so important to work with a skilled personal injury attorney to do so.
Another type of responsibility lies in the production of products. For example, if you are in a car accident, and the seatbelt or the airbag worked, but did not work properly, and you suffered damage, the manufacturer may be responsible for your losses.
What Type of Compensation Could You Obtain?
The amount of compensation from a spinal cord injury depends on many factors. After providing someone else was at fault, you and your attorney will discuss all of the losses you have suffered as a result of the incident. Here are some examples:
- Your medical bills, including emergency room visits, surgeries, and doctor’s appointments in the days and weeks after the incident
- Your long-term rehabilitation, physical therapy, and care
- The financial loss you had from not working during this time
- In some cases, you may be unable to go back to work, especially if you have developed the inability to move your limbs
- Your loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering – and more
Because this type of injury can carry such a long term impact on your quality of life and wellbeing, it is best to work directly with an attorney when filing a claim. Avoid filing a claim with the insurance company yourself. Insurers may wish to settle the claim and close it quickly, without fully realizing what all of your losses are, especially in the long term. Your need for financial compensation is great. You may have years of medical bills and care. Some people may need long-term support in medical facilities. For this reason, it is always best to work closely with your Indianapolis personal injury attorneys. In our law firm, we will work with you to understand your case, determine who is at fault, and determine what steps you need to take to obtain the financial support you need. This often involves negotiations and may include a trail. Yet, with the type of loss you’ve suffered, this may be critical in ensuring your family gets the compensation necessary to provide long-term care.
Symptoms of Damage
Your body will display signs if there is something wrong with your spinal cord or central nervous system. If you experience a lot of pain along your spine or lose control of any part of your body, there may be nerve damage. Other symptoms that indicate a possible spinal cord injury include numbness, weakness, and tingling in the extremities. It is essential to see a doctor immediately to diagnose your injuries.
Types of Spinal Injuires
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
An incomplete spinal injury is one which partially severs the cord. If you suffer an incomplete spinal cord injury, you will likely retain at least some level of functionality in your body. Some examples of these injuries might include:
- Brown-Sequard syndrome – an injury to one particular side of the spinal cord. This injury may allow you to retain full motion on one side of your body while losing functionality on the other.
- Anterior cord syndrome – an injury to the front of the spinal cord. This injury often damages your sensory pathways.
- Central cord syndrome – an injury to the center of the spinal cord. This injury may impair your fine motor skills, cause you to lose bladder and bowel control, or result in paralysis of the arms.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
A complete spinal injury is one which severs the cord entirely. As you might expect, they tend to be much more serious than incomplete injuries and can completely eliminate bodily function. Some of the most common complete spinal cord injuries include:
- Paraplegia – an injury to the thoracic spinal cord. This injury is likely to cut off functionality from the lower half of the body.
- Tetraplegia – an injury to the cervical spinal cord. This injury is likely to remove all sensation and movement below the site of the injury. As well as causing paralysis, tetraplegia may also eliminate bowel and bladder control as well as causing respiratory issues.
Your doctor may perform a series of tests to see if your spinal cord is damaged and the severity of the injury. If you have neck pain, they may place you in a neck brace during testing to stabilize your spine and prevent further damage. The doctor may perform an x-ray or MRI to locate the damaged area and any other troubling signs, such as a blood clot.
Unfortunately, severe spinal cord damage is usually a lifelong condition that has no cure. In some cases, surgery may be carried out to reduce damage to the nerves or to slightly reverse the effects of the injury. For more severe injuries, ongoing treatment may be necessary to ensure that vital functions are stable, such as blood pressure and lung function, as the spinal cord helps the brain tell your organs how to operate.
Surgery is a particularly common option if the patient has milder conditions affecting the spine, such as a herniated disc or a blood clot. This treatment option may also be used to secure the spine to prevent further injury.
Recovering from a Spinal Cord Injury
Because there is no way to reverse spinal cord injuries, many are permanent. However, some people do experience significant improvement over the course of months or years.
Most patients who experience a substantial recovery make their most significant improvements during the first six months after an accident.
Modern technology has brought about a number of devices and techniques designed to help people with spinal cord injuries learn new ways to live fulfilling lives.
As with the medical treatments themselves, these devices and techniques come at a cost. The victims of spinal cord injury often face extraordinary financial damages after an accident.
If the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence (carelessness) or wrongdoing, the victim may be entitled to recover financial compensation to cover those losses. Many such accidents are covered under one or more insurance policies, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury.
Practicing safety and caution will keep you safe and reduce the risk of a concussion or spinal cord injury.
While in the car, make sure that everyone is wearing a seatbelt. Follow the rules of the road and do not drive at excessive speeds. Do not drive a car while under the influence of substances or be a passenger of a vehicle with a driver that is impaired.
When playing sports, remember to use protective gear, especially for your head and neck. If any piece gets damaged, replace it with a newer model. Follow correct techniques on the field, such as tackling and blocking in football.
What are the most common causes of spinal cord injury?
- Motor vehicle accidents – Car and motorcycle accidents cause about half of all spinal cord injuries each year.
- Falls – People over 65 most often suffer spinal cord injuries because of some kind of fall. Falls cause about 31% of all spinal cord injuries each year.
- Violence – Violence such as gunshot or knife wounds cause about 13% of spinal cord injuries.
- Sports and recreation – Sports and recreational activities cause about 10% of spinal cord injuries each year.
- Disease – Cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammation of the spinal cord also can cause spinal cord injuries.
Alcohol use is also associated with one in every four spinal cord injuries.
What are some signs of a spinal cord injury requiring emergency attention?
After any kind of accident, including but not limited to motor vehicle accidents, any of the following signs could indicate a serious injury of the spinal cord that warrants immediate medical attention:
- Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head, or back
- Weakness, incoordination, or paralysis in any part of your body
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet, or toes
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Impaired breathing after injury
- An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back
What can I do if I suspect someone has a spinal cord injury?
When anyone experiences any kind of significant trauma to their head or neck, it is always safest to assume that there is some kind of spinal cord injury until it has been proven otherwise. Even if a spinal cord injury is serious, it may not be immediately obvious.
If you suspect that someone may have suffered such an injury:
- Call 911 immediately and request emergency medical attention.
- Keep the injured person still. Do not attempt to move them.
- Place something such as heavy towels on both sides of the head to keep the head and neck from moving.
- Provide basic first aid, such as stopping bleeding, if needed, without moving the head or neck.
What kind of complications can arise after a spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injuries can cause many problems throughout the body. The exact consequences of a spinal cord injury will vary depending on how serious it is. Complications can include any of the following:
- Problems with bladder and bowel control
- Loss of skin sensation
- Circulatory system problems such as low blood pressure or swelling of the limbs
- Difficulty breathing and coughing if your abdominal and chest muscles are affected
- Muscle tone problems, either being too tight or too flaccid
- Sexual problems
- Pain in some muscles or joints
Who is most at risk of suffering a spinal cord injury?
- 80% of spinal cord injuries in the US occur with males.
- People between 16 and 30 years old are most like to suffer a spinal cord injury.
- People over 65 often suffer this type of injury because of some kind of fall.
- People who engage in risky behavior such as sports without proper equipment or reckless driving.
- Someone can suffer a spinal cord injury as the result of another relatively minor injury if they have another disorder that affects their bones or joints, such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
Contact Your Indianapolis Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Today
Even if you are unsure you have a personal injury case, we encourage you to come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys. At Doehrman Buba Attorneys at Law, we work aggressively to help you get the compensation owed to you after such an event. Before you speak to the insurance company, call us at 317-844-9999 or use our online form and we’ll call you.