SPINAL CORD INJURY ATTORNEYS
The Devastation of Spinal Cord Injuries
There is perhaps no catastrophic injury more frightening than a spinal cord injury. If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury, your life may have been irrevocably altered. The physical, emotional and financial challenges you’re facing can be overwhelming and last a lifetime.
If your spinal cord injury accident was caused by someone’s negligence, seeking justice may be the last thing on your mind. Nevertheless, the law is on your side, and the party who caused the accident is legally required to fairly and fully compensate you for your injuries, including all the medical treatment you require, now and in the future. The spinal cord injury attorneys at Demas Law Group can help you achieve that goal.
Types and Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine consists of a columnar stack of vertebrae rising from the pelvis to the skull, each of which is separated by a spongy, donut-shaped piece of cartilage called a disc. The spinal cord runs from the brain stem and down this hollow stack of vertebrae. Nerve pathways branch off through holes in the vertebra to our arms and legs, forming the peripheral nervous system. This system controls our autonomic functions such as heart beat, respiration and excretion and it allows us to move our extremities.
When the spine is subjected to extreme force, the vertebrae can break and damage, or completely sever the spinal cord. Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, followed by falling accidents, acts of violence and sports injuries. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NPIST), about 12,000 people suffer spinal cord injuries every year.
The effect of these injuries depends on where the spinal cord is damaged or severed. If the injury is below the neck – the cervical vertebrae – the result is generally partial or complete paraplegia, the loss of sensation and mobility of the legs, and any bodily functions controlled by the nerves below the break. If the spinal cord is damaged but not severed, some recovery from these symptoms may be possible. If the spinal cord is severed, there are currently no medical procedures to repair it, and the injury is permanent.
Spinal cord injuries that occur in the cervical vertebrae or neck result in partial or full tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), the loss of sensation and mobility of the arms and legs, and any bodily functions controlled by the nerves below the injury, including heart rate and respiration. In severe cases, the capacity for speech and other high functions are lost. NPIST reports that 41 percent of spinal cord injuries result in partial or incomplete tetraplegia, 22 percent result in complete paraplegia, 21 percent result in incomplete paraplegia and 16 percent result in complete tetraplegia.
The Astronomical Medical Costs Associated with Spinal Cord Injuries
Regardless of the type of spinal cord injury, medical treatment is extremely expensive. During the first year after the injury, medical costs range from $300,000 to $1 million, depending on the severity of the injury. Lifelong treatment ranges from $41,000 to $177,000 annually. The quality of treatment can vary dramatically. If your spinal cord injury was caused by someone’s negligence, our personal injury attorneys at Demas Law Group can help ensure that you have access to cutting edge medical technology for the best possible outcome.
FAQ’s – Spinal Cord Injury
1. What should I do if I’ve suffered a spinal cord injury?
Demas Law Group advises anyone who has sustained an injury in an accident to seek immediate medical treatment. Spinal cord injuries always require hospitalization, and if you decide to file a claim against the responsible party, it is very beneficial to have your injury documented by medical professionals from the very beginning. Medical treatment for spinal cord injuries is extremely complex and the strength of your case depends in part on keeping track of these voluminous medical records.If you believe someone is at fault for your accident, it’s important to document the accident as much as possible. If you are too injured to do this, have a family member or friend assist you. Get the names of anyone who may have caused the accident and any witnesses, included law enforcement officials who may have been present at the scene. Take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene. Write down all the details of the accident as soon as possible and call the experienced spinal cord injury lawyers at Demas Law Group.
2. What are the different types of spinal cord injuries?
Spinal cord injuries are classified in two ways: by the severity of the injury to the spinal cord itself and the result of that injury. These categories are listed below:Partial spinal cord injury:
In these cases, the spinal cord suffers bruises, contusions, swelling and other trauma, but the spinal cord is not severed. Patients often partially or fully recover from partial spinal cord injuries when proper medical treatment is received.
Complete spinal cord injury: in these cases, the spinal cord is cut into and in the most severe cases, completely severed. Complete spinal cord injuries always result in paralysis below the point of the injury. Currently there is no known treatment to repair a severed spinal cord.
Results of spinal cord injuries
- Incomplete paraplegia: Generally, this results from a partial spinal cord injury to the area below the cervical vertebrae or neck and results in partial leg paralysis or immobility. Sensation and mobility of the area below the injury occurs, but it may exist on only one side of the body. Full recovery is possible in some cases.
- Complete paraplegia: This results from complete spinal cord injuries below the neck area where the spinal cord is cut or completely severed. Paralysis of both legs occurs, and while some symptoms can be alleviated by modern medical treatments, the injury cannot be repaired and is permanent.
- Incomplete tetraplegia/quadriplegia: This results from partial spinal cord injuries in the cervical vertebrae or neck area. Paralysis and/or loss of feeling occur on the arms and legs. Incomplete spinal injuries differ from one person to another because the amount of damage to each person’s nerve fibers is different. While the prognosis for recovery is not as high as incomplete paraplegia, people can and do partially recover from these injuries with proper medical treatment.
- Complete tetraplegia/quadriplegia: The spinal cord is partially or fully severed in the neck area and paralysis occurs on both arms and legs. Because autonomic functions such as breathing and heart rate are also affected, such injuries are often fatal. Currently, there is no treatment to repair a severed spinal cord and the injury is permanent.
3. What are some of the other health issues associated with spinal cord injuries?
Some of the most serious medical complications resulting from spinal cord injuries involve the function of the autonomic nervous system. They include:
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Bony dysfunction
- Cardiovascular disease
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Heterotopic ossification (HO) and cysts
- Neuropathic spinal cord pain
- Osteoporosis and fractures
- Respiratory dysfunction, pneumonia, atelectasis (collapsed lung), aspiration, restrictive lung disease
- Loss of sexual function
- Postural (orthostatic) hypotension
- Vascular dysfunction
- Shortened lifespan
4. Who can be held responsible for a spinal cord injury?
Anyone whose negligence causes your injury can be held responsible. Motor vehicle accidents account for nearly half of all spinal cord injuries, and if the other driver was negligent, they are legally responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Falling accidents are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries, and if the fall was causes by a negligent property owner, the property owner is responsible. In cases of violent crime, the perpetrator may be liable for both criminal and civil damages. The spinal cord injury lawyers at Demas Law Group can help determine who is responsible for causing your injury, and recover fair and full compensation for your damages.
5. I was partially responsible for my accident. Do I still have a case?
California is a comparative damage state, so even if the defendant was partially negligent, you may still have a case. Settlements (or verdicts) in such cases are determined by the percent of fault attributed to the defendant. For example, if you’re found 25% percent at fault and the defendant is found 75% percent at fault and you win your case, your settlement will be approximately 75% percent of what it would have been if you had no fault at all.
6. Other Questions?
Please see our General FAQs
for answers to these and other questions:
- What can a lawyer do for me if I’ve suffered a spinal cord injury?
- How long do I have to file a claim after an accident that resulted in spinal cord injury?
- What can I be compensated for in a spinal cord injury case?
- How much will it cost me to hire a personal injury attorney?
Resources for Spinal Cord Injury Victims