Every year, as many as 17,000 people in the United States suffer some form of injury to their spinal cords, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. This devastating type of injury can happen in the blink of an eye, especially in a car or motorcycle crash, and is often life-altering for victims. Spinal cord injuries can result in the need for years of medical treatment and rehabilitation—and yet there’s still no guarantee of full recovery. Here’s what you need to know about spinal cord injuries after an accident.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Protected by the bones of your spine (vertebrae), the spinal cord is the thick bundle of nerves that runs from your brain down to about your tailbone. It carries sensory information, such as the sensation of touch, to your brain, and it also carries commands from your brain to your limbs and other parts of your body.
When you’re involved in a traumatic accident, the spinal cord itself can become damaged. The most common types of spinal cord injuries may include the following:
- Bruising (contusions)
- Cord compression injuries
- Tearing or lacerations
- Partial or total severing of the spinal cord
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may vary depending on the nature of the injury and the exact location on the spine where the injury occurs. Numbness, tingling, weakness, lack of coordination, partial or total paralysis, pain, loss of sensation, difficulty breathing, and loss of bladder or bowel control are all signs of spinal cord trauma. The NSCISC reports that as many as 45 percent of spinal cord injuries result in partial loss of sensation or movement in all four limbs (incomplete tetraplegia.) Spinal cord injuries also often result in chronic pain, severely impacting the quality of life for victims.
One common form of spinal cord injury after an auto accident is called central cord syndrome, or CCS. CCS is a spinal cord injury to the neck region that can cause the following symptoms:
- Severe weakness in the upper body, arms, and hands.
- Weakness in the lower body and legs.
- Loss of sensation all over the body below the injury site.
- Some degree of urinary difficulty.
Those who suffer from CCS after a car crash, slip and fall accident, or other trauma may recover the ability to walk, but are at risk of never regaining the ability to use their hands and arms again.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are many types of accidents that can cause spinal cord trauma, but according to the World Health Organization, traffic accidents and falls are two of the leading causes of injury, and up to 90 percent of all spinal cord injuries are due to trauma of some sort.
Negligence Lawsuits and Liability in Spinal Cord Accident Cases
If your spinal cord injury was someone else’s fault, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person or parties who caused the accident allows you to recover damages from those responsible for your condition. Your compensation for the negligent action that resulted in your trauma may include:
- The costs of your emergency treatment.
- Any future medical bills related to your injury.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs.
- Mental health costs.
- Lost work time and wages.
- Pain and suffering.
Even if you think you could share partial responsibility for your accident, you may still be able to receive compensation, because Texas follows a form of law called “modified comparative negligence.” As long as you are found to be less than 51 percent responsible for what happened, this law allows you to recover financially for at least a portion of your injury. Your award will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility. For example, if a jury awards you $500,000 for your injury, but finds you to be 20 percent responsible, your total final award will be reduced by 20 percent to $400,000.
To get legal help after your spinal cord injury, reach out to the offices of Wayne Wright LLP today. We’ve spent decades fighting for the rights of accident victims who have suffered due to the negligence of others, and we’ll be there when you need us most.