Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine is often referred to as the lifeline of the human body because of the important role it plays when it comes to vital functions. The spinal cord is a cylindrical bundle of nerve fibers and associated tissues that are enclosed in the spine. These are in turn connected to a network of nerves that link nearly all parts of the body to the brain, forming the central nervous system.
When the spinal cord or any part of the spine is injured – be it in a car accident, a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident or a construction accident – it can result in life-changing consequences for victims and their families. Even performing routine, daily activities can prove difficult if the spinal cord injury results in paralysis. Victims of spinal cord injuries certainly need a great deal of help and guidance after their accident.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), approximately 12,000 people suffer non-fatal spinal cord injuries each year. Further, there are an estimated 273,000 people nationwide who are currently living with a spinal cord injury. Only about 11 percent of those living with spinal cord injuries are employed within a year of the accident. Less than 35 percent are employed 20 years post-injury.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury can occur whenever there is a sudden and severe blow to the spine in the neck or back. More than 36 percent of spinal cord injuries result from motor vehicle crashes. Other common causes include falls, acts of violence and sports. The number of sports-related spinal cord injuries has decreased in recent years, but the number of injuries due to falls has increased.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
The spinal cord is responsible for sending messages between the brain and the rest of the body. These messages allow you to move and experience touch. A spinal cord injury will affect the flow of messages below the site of the injury. Damage to the middle of the back can result in paraplegia, which involves leg paralysis. When the spinal cord is damaged in the neck, it can affect the victim’s arms, chest and legs. This condition is known as quadriplegia.
A spinal cord injury can be complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury involves a total loss of feeling and movement below the site of the injury. An incomplete injury results in a partial loss of feeling and/or movement in the affected area.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment and Care
Victims of spinal cord injuries will require immediate medical attention. Treatment will start right away in an attempt to prevent more damage to the spine and spinal cord. Doctors will attempt to stabilize the victim’s blood pressure and to aid breathing. They may also use steroids to reduce swelling of the spinal cord. Tests will be required to determine the severity of the injury. Victims may need x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI or even an ultrasound to evaluate kidney function.
It is often challenging to determine the severity of a spinal cord injury until well after the accident. A few days after the injury, doctors may conduct pinprick tests to see if the victim still has feeling throughout his or her body. Rehabilitation will start as soon as the patient is stable. For many victims, most of the recovery will occur within the first six months. Symptoms that continue after six months will likely remain life long.
The Financial Cost of Suffering a Spinal Cord Injury
If you have recently suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be wondering how much it will cost you in terms of hospital expenses and heath care costs. The severity and location of the trauma will affect the direct costs of the injuries. NSCISC estimates that a spinal cord injury sustained in the top four vertebrae can cost $1,044,197 in the first year and $181,328 each subsequent year. Victims of spinal cord damage in their lower neck can expect $754,524 in expenses in the first year and $111,237 each subsequent year. Victims of paraplegia may see expenses totaling $508,904 within the first year of being injured and $67,415 each following year.
It is important to remember that these financial estimates do not include indirect costs such as losses in wages, benefits or productivity. They also do not include the noneconomic losses of suffering such a life-changing injury.
Seeking Compensation for Spinal Cord Injury
Victims of spinal cord injuries can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to:
- Permanent Injuries
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of livelihood and future income
- Rehabilitation costs
- Medication and medical devices
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium, etc.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. With more than 42 years of experience, our firm strives to obtain the best compensation for those who have been injured or those who have lost a loved one due to an accident or by someone else’s negligence.
Our attorneys work diligently to help injured victims obtain fair and full compensation for their losses. Our law firm won a $5,600,000 settlement for a client who was injured in a bicycle accident. Although officials said our client was at fault for the crash, intoxicated and not wearing a helmet, he received 93 percent of the insurance policy.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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