Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries (SCI’s) are often the result of severe accidents that can occur in numerous ways. While injuries to the back are often the result of vehicle accidents, they can also happen from a simple fall, work accident, or even a sports injury. Spinal cord damage is one of the most devastating types of injury you can receive and demands a complete transition to a new way of life. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, the attorneys at Terry Bryant can help you explore your potential legal remedies.
Since the spinal cord is responsible for transmitting commands from the brain to the rest of the body, any damage it receives could result in temporary or permanent neurological impairment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 54 spinal cord injury cases per million people in the U.S. occur annually — approximately 17,000 new SCI cases. This figure includes only those who survive the accident. In 2016, the number of people in the U.S. living with an SCI was approximately 282,000. The average age at injury is 42 years today; it was 29 in the 1970s.
Spinal cord injury severity is classified as either of the following:
- Complete – All feeling (sensory) and ability to control movement (motor function) are lost below the spinal cord injury.
- Incomplete – When some motor or sensory function below the injured area remains, the SCI is called incomplete and classified in varying degrees.
Paralysis from a spinal cord injury is referred to as:
- Tetraplegia (quadriplegia) – Arms, hands, waist, legs, and pelvic organs are all affected by the injury.
- Paraplegia – All or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are affected.
These afflictions can also happen in the workplace, and those who work in construction or jobs where major falls are an occupational hazard are at a greater risk. In some cases an SCI can occur while playing sports with less than adequate protection; in other cases, such an injury may become immediately apparent after back surgery, for example, to treat scoliosis.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The latest CDC research data regarding the causes of spine injuries to Americans comes from 2016:
- 46% are attributed to motor vehicle accidents (including commercial truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrians hit by a vehicle).
- 22% come from falls, which are the leading cause of workplace accidents. Also, the largest percentage of all injuries to senior Americans (15%) come by way of a fall.
- 16% of spinal cord injuries are the result of criminal violence, with the victim usually sustaining gunshot or deep knife wounds.
- 12% are attributable to sports. Athletic activities, such as impact sports (e.g. baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and hockey) and diving in dark, shallow water, cause about 10% of spinal cord injuries.
- Some SCIs (<5%) are the result of medical malpractice – a surgical error or misdiagnosis – or are worsened by it.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation recently determined the economic costs of spinal cord injuries. Below are the average yearly costs (health care and living expenses) of SCI victims:
- High Quadriplegia (C1-C4): $1,064,716 in year one and $184,891/year thereafter
- Low Quadriplegia (C5-C8): $769,351 in year one and $113,423/year thereafter
- Paraplegia: $518,904 in year one and $68,739/year thereafter
- Incomplete motor function (any level): $347,484 in year one and $42,206/year thereafter
Spinal injuries involving paralysis have immediate life-changing consequences. You not only need extensive medical treatment, you’ll likely need to learn a whole new series of day-to-day living skills to fit your new life. You may need to modify your motor vehicle, home, and workplace (or acquire new ones, custom crafted to your unique needs).
SCI sufferers experience a number of health problems for the remainder of their lives: complications with bladder and bowels, an inability to regulate blood pressure and body temperature, chronic pain, and/or decreased resistance to respiratory complications. Overall, spinal cord injury victims generally experience a shorter lifespan and consistently need specialized medical care.
It should come as no surprise that defendants’ insurance companies aggressively work to convince SCI victims to accept as low a settlement amount as possible. And it’s the reason why anyone who is injured by someone else’s carelessness must have a seasoned SCI attorney who forces the insurance company to negotiate in good faith and aggressively represents injury victims, including at trial (as needed).
Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, contact the Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. We’ll meet with you anywhere. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call toll-free at 1 (800) 444-5000.