A car crash can cause someone’s life to change in the blink of an eye, especially when a devastating spinal cord injury occurs. Fortunately very few people experience this, but for those who do, life for them and their families will never be the same.
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of a spinal cord injury. That is understandable given the size and speed of vehicles involved in a crash. Other variables like the angle of impact, body position, seatbelts, and airbags affect the severity.
The injured victim will need to take immediate action so that they can get the medical treatment they need and have sufficient financial resources in the future.
We strongly discourage someone with any case, let alone a catastrophic injury like this, from relying on the generosity of the other driver’s insurance company. A spinal cord injury is life-changing. Medical and other expenses will be extremely expensive. A lawsuit will need to be filed and a personal injury lawyer needs to lay the proper groundwork to prove your damages. The sooner you consult with an experienced car accident lawyer, the better.
What is a spinal cord injury?
When the spine suffers a sudden blow, it can fracture and dislocate the bones (vertebrae) and cushions (discs) that protect the spinal cord. That is the bundle of nerves that starts in the brain and travels to the waist that controls movement.
When the nerves inside the spinal cord are damaged, the pathway between the brain and your body is disrupted. Messages to the limbs are interrupted and movement is impossible. The cord does not have be be severed for this to happen.
A spinal cord injury is considered complete if the ability to control movement has been lost below the injured level. If the spinal cord can still convey messages below that level, the injury is incomplete and the prognosis for recovery is more favorable.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury
These are symptoms that injured people often have:
- Loss of movement
- Chronic pain
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Loss of bladder control
- Respiratory and cardiac problems
Immediate medical attention is essential
After a car or truck wreck, the driver and passengers experience trauma to their bodies but a spinal cord injury is sometimes not apparent. Failing to go to the hospital may cause a more serious injury, especially if the spinal cord is swelling or bleeding.
If you believe that someone may be seriously injured, you should never move them. Call 911. Allow emergency medical technicians to assess the injury and move the victim using a cervical brace and backboard to protect their spine from movement.
After diagnostic testing and analysis at the hospital, more information about the extent of the injury will be known.
The parts of the body that are affected depends on which area of the spinal column was affected. Medical terms that describe the extent of the damage include
- Hemiplegia: one side is affected
- Monoplegia: one limb (an arm or leg) is affected
- Diplegia: the same area or limb on both sides is affected
- Paraplegia: both legs are affected
- Tetraplegia (also referred to as quadriplegia): both arms and legs are affected
Medical treatment that is available
Each spinal cord injury is different, so treatment will vary. For some people, injections of high dosages of steroids and medications may be employed, but surgery is often required to repair the spine or relieve pressure on the spinal cord. Physical therapy is essential.
Fortunately there are new surgical techniques, stem cell therapies, and medications that can repair the damage and generate cell growth. Electronic stimulation with pacemaker-like devices can assist movement. Wheelchairs are state-of-the-art. Giant steps have made in improving the lives of those who have been affected.
But dealing with the aftermath of a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. Basic activities of everyday living can be difficult, if not impossible. Homes will have to be renovated to accommodate wheelchairs, bathroom usage, and getting up and down from beds.
Compensation that can be considered
In any personal injury claim, compensation can include the following items:
- Medical bills
- Lost income and benefits
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
The damages will be enormous as the injured person will have life-long disabilities. Claims can be worth over a million dollars, depending on the facts.
A structured settlement can be used
The injured victim will receive financial compensation that needs to be allocated for present and future needs.
A better alternative to a lump-sum payment is often to give the injured person some of the proceeds and invest the remainder in an annuity. In what is called a structured settlement, the injured victim is guaranteed regular payments for many years and even the rest of their life. These settlements can yield many advantages.
A good personal injury lawyer is invaluable
The insurance company will send a trained adjuster to try to investigate and make you or your family accept a settlement for less than your case is worth. He or she will demand a recorded statement that can be used against you if your case goes to court.
If you need help talking to the insurance company or just need more information, call Bill Berenson for assistance. He is an attorney who handles spinal cord and other serious personal injury cases and helps people increase their chances of recovery. He has been representing the victims of vehicle crashes in North Texas for the past 41 years.
Please contact Bill by clicking here or by calling 888-801-8585 to discuss any vehicle collision case at no charge.
More information about other injuries after a motor vehicle collision:
This post is part of a series about injuries that happen including