Hearing the words “spinal cord injury” from your doctor after an accident can be devastating. Most people associate spinal cord injuries with being partially or completely paralyzed, which are two very real risks associated with damage to the spine. While some spinal cord injuries do still allow you to walk or use your limbs, spinal cord injuries are almost always serious and almost always expensive to treat. You may be afraid not only of the physical problems from a spinal cord injury but also of the effect of the injury on your ability to earn a living.
Under Missouri and Illinois law, if someone has been negligent in a way that led to your spinal cord injury, that person could be held legally responsible for the losses you endured. This means that the responsible party can be made to pay not just your medical bills, but also to compensate you for income you are not able to earn at work due to your injury and for the pain and suffering that your spinal injury causes.
The damages in many spinal injury cases can total into the millions of dollars, so it is essential to get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer when you suffer a spinal cord injury. At The Cagle Law Firm, our Missouri and Illinois spinal injury attorneys can help. Call our St. Louis serious injury lawyers today at (314) 276-1681 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Your case is safe with us.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are broadly divided into two categories: complete spinal cord injuries (complete SCI) or incomplete/partial SCI. A complete spinal cord injury will result in total loss of sensation and movement below where the damage occurred. An incomplete spinal cord injury will cause varying degrees of damage and paralysis depending upon the type of injury and where the damage to the spine occurred.
- Spinal contusions are the most common type of SCI. Spinal contusions occur when the spinal cord is bruised; resulting inflammation and bleeding cause short-term debilitation of the spinal cord that may last for a few days.
- Nerve cell damage to individual nerves on the spinal cord can affect sensory and motor function in isolated parts of the body that are controlled by those nerves.
- Anterior cord syndrome occurs when the motor and sensory pathways in the anterior portion of the spinal cord are damaged. Typically, both movement and sensation are lost, although there may be some limited feeling if there are any non-affected pathways.
- Central cord syndrome occurs when the center of the spinal cord is injured in the cervical area. A pathway between the spinal cord and brain called the corticospinal tract is affected; you usually will experience weakness, loss of feeling and sometimes paralysis.
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome occurs when the left or right side of the spinal cord sustains an injury. A person with this condition may have movement on one side of the body but will lose temperature and pain sensations because these pathways cross both sides of the spine. The side of the body where the injury has occurred will be paralyzed below the site of the injury.
When an injury affects the spinal cord, it is often very difficult at first to tell the extent of the damage due to the amount of swelling that occurs. You should always wait until you have a complete and comprehensive medical diagnosis before negotiating a settlement with the party responsible for causing your injury. If you accept compensation and it later turns out that your injuries were more serious than anticipated, it could be impossible to recover the full damages owed. Always speak to a lawyer before signing anything to avoid this situation.
Costs and Consequences of a Spinal Cord Injury
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the lifetime cost of living expenses and medical costs for a person who suffers a spinal injury at age 25 can total between $1,517,806 and $4,543,182. These costs are just for medical treatment. A person who suffers a serious spinal cord injury will likely face other losses, including a lifetime of lost or reduced earning power if the spinal cord injury prevents the victim from holding a job, pain and suffering, and emotional distress that results from the spinal injury.
Valuing the damages associated with a spinal cord injury can be challenging due to the uncertainty involved in estimating future medical expenses and lost wages. That means it is absolutely essential to have a lawyer assist you in this process.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Missouri and Illinois
Many different causes of spinal cord injury can give rise to legal liability. For instance:
- The Mayo Clinic reports that car accidents are responsible for more than 40 percent of spinal cord injury cases, and the NSCISC data shows similar figures, with car accidents accounting for 39.2 percent of reported injuries to the spinal cord. This makes car and motorcycle accidents the most common cause of SCI.
- The Mayo Clinic reports that slip and falls are responsible for 25 percent of spinal cord injuries. Slip and falls are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries in people aged 65 and over.
- The NSCISC reports that violence was responsible for 16.4 percent of spinal cord injuries cases since 2005.
NSCIS figures show that sports and recreation are a cause of 8.2 percent of spinal cord injuries.
In many of these cases, someone other than the victim is to blame. Whenever someone else does something wrong that leads to a spinal cord injury, they need to compensate you and pay for what they have done.
Get Help from Our St. Louis Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Now
If you suspect someone else may have been responsible for causing your spinal cord injury or for causing the SCI of a loved one, The Cagle Law Firm can help. Contact the St Louis personal injury lawyers at The Cagle Law Firm today at (314) 276-1681 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and case review.