Spinal cord injuries are serious and can dramatically change the life of the injured person and everyone around them. A staggering 42.1% of spinal cord injuries are due to motor vehicle accidents, with falls (premises liability) coming in second place at 26.7%. Combined, that’s a bit over two-thirds of all spinal cord accidents.
Definition of Spinal Cord Injuries
What is a spinal cord injury? According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal cord. These damages often cause permanent changes in the strength, sensation and other body functions that fall below the site of the injury. The injuries are generally categorized as one of the following:
Complete: The loss of almost all feeling and movement below the injury site
Incomplete: Some feeling and movement below the injury site occurs
Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia): Arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs are all affected
Paraplegia: All or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are affected
Spinal cord injuries can also include:
- Nerve damage
- Fracture vertebrae
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
Signs and Symptoms
If you or someone you are with is in an automobile accident and you suspect there is a back or neck injury, DO NOT move the injured person. That movement could lead to permanent paralysis or additional complications. Call for emergency help and keep the injured person still. If possible, position heavy cloths, clothing or other items on both sides of the head and neck to restrict movement. In addition, look for these signs that could indicate a spinal cord injury:
- Extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
- Weakness or paralysis anywhere in the body
- Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Impaired breathing after the accident
- An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back
It’s evident that spinal cord injuries involve complex medical and legal issues. Damages should go beyond reimbursement for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Since these types of injuries are often permanent and life altering, damages should also cover ongoing healthcare, rehabilitation, and devices such as wheelchairs, motorized stairlifts, and ramps. Oftentimes the homes of the injured patient need to be completely retrofitted to accommodate these devices. But, despite the seriousness of spinal cord injuries, insurance companies may not compensate fairly. This is where your personal injury attorney becomes an invaluable asset. Contact them immediately after an accident.
Call Carey Leisure & Neal for Legal Services in Clearwater, FL
Contact us at (727) 799-3900 for a free no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.