The most common cause of spinal injuries is motor vehicle accidents, which account for almost half of new cases annually. How car accidents can cause spinal injuries depends upon the details of the accident. Speed, the location and angle of the crash, the size and weight of the vehicles involved, and other things influence what kind of spinal injury might occur.
One of the most common injuries is whiplash when a car is hit from the rear. In a whiplash accident, the neck is jerked quickly back and forth. Whiplash can injure bones and discs in the spine. It can also harm ligaments and tissues. Other common injuries from car accidents include spinal fractures, ruptured discs, and facet joint damage. Facet joints connect the vertebrae in the spine.
People who experience a serious spinal injury can be paralyzed. An injury to the upper spinal cord can cause quadriplegia, or paralysis of the arms, legs, and body. An injury lower on the spinal cord can cause paraplegia, which is paralysis of the legs and lower body. Other injuries can cause limited movement, chronic pain, and other harm.
Now That You Know How Car Accidents Can Cause Spinal Injuries, What Should You Do If You Think You Have One?
If you’ve been in a car crash and think you could have a spinal injury, see a doctor right away. Even if you feel like you only “tweaked” your neck or back, have the injury checked out. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who experience significant trauma to their head or neck need to be immediately evaluated for possible spinal injuries. They should assume they have one until tests prove otherwise.
If you don’t have your spinal injury treated right away, it can become much worse. While it is necessary for your own well-being to get medical help, seeing a doctor after a car accident is also important for an insurance claim or possible legal claim.
Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury Caused by a Car Accident
There are some signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury caused by a car accident that can be a medical emergency. They include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe headache
- Extreme pain or pressure in your back or neck
- A hard time walking or staying balanced
- Weakness or incoordination anywhere in your body
- Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Your neck or back is twisted at an odd angle.
If you’ve been in a crash and have any of these symptoms, don’t wait. Get emergency medical treatment right away.
How You May Be Able to Get Help Paying for Your Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries can’t be completely fixed, though some of them may improve with therapy and other treatments. But ongoing rehabilitative treatment is expensive. And people who experience paraplegia or quadriplegia can face millions of dollars in medical and other expenses over the course of their lives, according to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.
If the car accident that caused your spinal cord injury was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to get compensation to help with medical care and other expenses. How much you might be able to get is based on the specifics of your accident and the type of costs you have incurred because of it.
Damages for a Spinal Cord Injury Accident
Examples of damages in a spinal cord injury car crash in Texas include:
- Medical expenses—Expenses include both current and future doctor, hospital, therapy, rehabilitation, nursing care, and other costs.
- Assistive equipment—Equipment can include wheelchairs, canes, walkers, adaptive shoes, driving devices, hospital beds, respiratory equipment, equipment to transfer from bed to wheelchair, and other equipment.
- Lost income—If you’ve had to miss work to go to doctor’s appointments or recuperate from your injuries, you can ask for lost income damages.
- Future lost earnings—Sometimes people with severe spinal cord injuries can no longer work at all. Or they may be able to work but in a different job that pays less. Some people can only work part time.
- Pain and suffering for physical pain and the emotional trauma that your injuries have caused.
The more severe your spinal injury is, the more your damages will typically be worth. Everyone’s case is unique, though. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney in Texas can examine the details of your accident and more closely advise you.
How Do I Prove that the Other Driver Was Negligent?
Negligent driving behaviors include speeding, driving while intoxicated, distracted driving such as texting, and more. How do you prove that the other driver was negligent? Proving negligence can be hard because you must show that the other driver did not meet their duty to drive carefully and their lack of care directly caused your injuries.
You have the best chance of proving negligence with the help of a skilled car accident spinal injury lawyer who understands Texas law. Also, Texas is what is called a “modified comparative negligence” state. What this means is that if it’s found that you share any fault for the accident, your potential damage award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. And if you are more than 50% responsible, you cannot recover from the adverse party. For these reasons, it is extremely important to your case to get the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Get Compassionate Help from an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If you have a serious spinal cord injury, you may need medical care and other assistance for the rest of your life. If you can’t work, you will also need help paying your bills and feeding your family. If another driver’s negligence caused your injury, you deserve fair compensation for your damages. When you were the victim of negligence, we will work hard toward helping you get the maximum compensation.
Call the attorneys at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant at (713) 973-8888 for a free consultation. We have successfully handled thousands of car accident cases, including many with serious spinal cord injuries.