Spinal cord (SCI) injury is a term used to describe any injury to the spinal cord that results in a loss of sensation or function in the body. Approximately two million people worldwide and nearly 200,000 in the United States live with a spinal cord injury. Nearly 11,000 Americans sustain SCI each year. These injuries cost the nation an estimated $9.7 billion a year. More than 80% of new spinal cord victims are young men between the ages of 16 and 30.
Any trauma that compresses pushes sideways, or cuts the spinal cord may cause SCI. A severed spinal cord cannot be repaired. Car and motorcycle accidents, gunshot and knife wounds, falls, and sports injuries are the most common causes of damage to the spinal cord. In fact, nearly half of the estimated 7,800 non-fatal SCI’s that occur each year are the result of motor vehicle accidents. Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents. In whiplash, an injury to the neck results from sudden backward and forward motion that can cause chronic pain and reduced range of motion.
Insurance companies and negligent parties may be obligated to provide victims with compensation. As an injured party, you have the right to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to defray medical bills, compensate for pain and suffering and provide for lost potential income through legal action. Symptoms of spinal cord damage may include weakness, poor coordination, paralysis, numbness, tingling, loss of bowel or bladder control, and general pain. When a physician suspects a spinal cord injury a CAT scan, MRI, or Myelogram are typically used as diagnostic tools.
In most cases, some spinal cord fibers remain intact and become the focus of any prescribed treatment. A physical therapist can help determine the ability to move and, over time, the therapist may encourage exercise and increased activity to restore movement. Many victims suffer recurring back pain and inflammation, requiring prescription pain medication to manage the problem. After the initial injury heals, functional improvements may continue for up to six months.
Roughly 37% of spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident, your automobile insurance company, or that of the other driver, may be obliged to provide compensation. Insurance policies may cover the costs of your injury and rehabilitation. The issue of who caused the accident and injury may or may not be relevant, depending on your state.
Violence is the cause of 28% of spinal cord injuries. If your injury is the result of violence, you may be entitled to compensation, depending on where the incident occurred and who was responsible. If your injury is the result of a violent attack, such as a mugging, you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries even if the attacker is unknown. For example, if the attack took place in a shopping mall parking lot, the shopping mall may be responsible for the damages.
Slips and falls are responsible for 21% of SCI cases. These injuries are often work-related, occur on construction sites, or are caused by defective products. If you have a spinal cord injury as the result of a slip or fall, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Under the theory of premises liability, the property owner may responsible for preventing unsafe conditions. Under the theory of product liability manufacturers of defective products, such as a ladder with insufficient safety features, may be liable.
A personal injury lawyer with experience handling spinal cord injury cases can help determine whether you have legal recourse.
If you have been the victim of a spinal cord injury, you have a right to seek compensation for your injury. It is important that you consult an attorney as soon as possible after an injury to preserve this right. The law imposes a statute of limitations, which varies from state to state, that provides a limited time within which to pursue your claim. If you or a loved one have suffered health problems due to a spinal cord injury, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.
A spinal injury robs you of the life you once knew and the future you planned for. A good injury or accident attorney can’t give you back your old life back, but we will work to see that you have the resources you need to go forward in your new life.
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