What is a spinal cord injury?

The spinal cord is the main pathway for information from the peripheral nervous system to the brain. A spinal cord injury consists of damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function, such as mobility or feeling. The spinal cord does not have to be severed for a loss of function to occur. The spinal cord is soft tissue filled with nerves protected by your spinal column. It extends down the middle of your back from the base of your brain to your waist. The spinal cord has three major functions: sending motor information traveling down the spinal cord, transmitting sensory information in the reverse direction to the brain, and as a center for coordinating certain reflexes.

A spinal cord injury results from trauma to the neck or back. Many occur from simple falls. Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types of injury – complete and incomplete. A complete injury means that there is no function below the level of the injury: no sensation and no voluntary movement. Both sides of the body are equally affected. But most injuries do not result in a complete sever of the spinal cord.

Instead, injury results when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals. An incomplete injury means that there is some functioning below the primary level of the injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved, or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other. With the advances in acute treatment of spinal cord injury, incomplete injuries are becoming more common. About 200,000 people in the United States have a spinal cord injury with an estimated 12,000-20,000 new spinal cord injury cases occurring each year. Almost half of all new spinal cord injuries result from a motor vehicle accident, followed by falls causing about 22% of the new injuries. Alcohol has been found to play a major factor in 25% of spinal cord injuries.

What makes a spinal cord injury case unique?

The critical functions of the spinal cord make injury a potentially devastating event. Traumatic injury to the spinal cord poses a significant risk of neurologic impairments, including musculoskeletal (resulting in incomplete or complete paralysis), respiratory, urinary, or gastrointestinal defects. Long-term complications from a spinal cord injury include any psychological side effects, such as depression and anxiety. Coping with the challenges of a spinal cord injury requires significant resources. According to the Center for Disease Control, the average annual medical cost for a spinal cord injury victim is $15,000–$30,000.

The estimated lifetime cost ranges from $500,000 to more than $3 million, depending on injury severity. The physical and psychological impairments resulting from a spinal cord injury make this type of case one of the most serious. The medical costs are overwhelming for most households, with added expense for required accommodations and adaptations.

What to expect from a spinal cord injury lawsuit?

If the spinal cord injury was the result of another's negligence, that person or entity may be liable for the resulting expenses. Overall, 85% of spinal cord injury patients who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later. This typically means expensive accommodations are needed over a long-term period. Other expenses which arise include future medical expenses, often coupled with a loss of income if the victim was previously employed.

Frequently other family members lose time away from work as well. The injured victim may seek compensation from the liable party for all of these expenses.

For answers about your spinal cord injury claim, call for a free consultation:

Spinal cord injury victims need experienced legal advice to determine what legal claims they may wish to pursue, and at Chalat Hatten & Banker we offer that experience. We have represented numerous spinal cord injury victims throughout the course of our practice. Contact an attorney at our firm today to further discuss your options if you have experienced a spinal cord injury.

How We Helped a Family Win a Spinal Cord Injury Case

Judge Awards $18.5 Million to Victim

An Idaho Springs man was awarded $18.5 million for catastrophic injuries he suffered when a driver drunk left a mountain road and slammed into him as he was laying in his driveway, changing the oil in wife’s car.

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