Spinal cord victims often have a long list of lifelong complications, pain, and even paralysis after their accident. There are currently 276,000 people living with spinal cord injuries (SCIs), and about 12,500 Americans have an SCI every year, according to The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at UAB. Males make up 80 percent of victims, and the average age is 42 years old. The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is auto collisions, which account for an astounding 38 percent of all SPIs. If you or a loved one has suffered a spine related injury due to another person’s negligence, consult with a California spinal cord injury lawyer to seek damages and hold the negligent party responsible. Our experienced attorneys can assist in filing a catastrophic injury claim in California and ensure you know what to expect at each step of the legal process.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Spine Injuries
Vehicular accidents are currently the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for approximately 39 percent of new cases in the last ten years. However, people sustain spinal cord injuries in many ways including:
- Through a serious slip and fall accidents;
- While playing sports;
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Assault and other acts of violence, such as gunshot wounds; and
While some spinal cord injuries may manifest themselves immediately, others will not. If you are involved in an accident and experience any of the following symptoms you could have a spine injury and should consult with a California spinal cord injury attorney to discuss your next steps:
- Difficulty breathing after being injured;
- Loss of control over bladder or bowel movements;
- A numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your extremities;
- Intense pain or pressure in your neck, head, or back; and
- Trouble balancing while walking or paralysis of any body part.
Whether or not you have any of these emergency signs, anyone who has experienced significant trauma to their head or neck should seek immediate medical attention. In fact, until a doctor has completed a medical evaluation, spinal injuries should be assumed in trauma victims until proven otherwise.
Types of Injuries
The spinal cord is a cylindrical bundle of nervous tissue that connects the brain to the rest of the body, forming the central nervous system. It originates at the medulla oblongata in the brainstem and extends to the lumbar of the the vertebral column. The spinal cord is one of the most vital systems in the body – without it the brain would not be able to communicate with the rest of the body. Damage to the spinal cord in the form of bruising, stretching, pressure, or laceration can cause loss of feeling below the injury, hand or foot paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, or even full body paralysis below the sight of the injury, depending the severity of damage.There are a variety of injuries that cause spinal cord damage, among the most common that California spinal cord injury lawyers see are the following:
A flexion injury occurs when there is a violent force that slams the head forward suddenly, such as whiplash in a car accident. This injury can break the vertebrae of the neck, which affects the spinal column in the same area.
Rotation injuries often coincides with flexion. The rotation of the spinal cord causes damage in the form of tearing. An example of this is when a car is struck from the side or rolls over.
A compression injury is the result of compressing the spinal cord. A force administered to the top of the head, or if the victim takes a large fall, causes the vertebrae to shatter into pieces and puncture the spinal cord. Compression can also happen even if no vertebrae are shattered; simply displacing the vertebrae discs can cause them to interfere with the spinal cord, causing damage.
Hyperextension happens when the victim’s neck is forced backwards, which stretches the spinal cord. Stretching alone, along with vertebrae being opened at the discs, causes severe injury. The spinal column itself might not be damaged (the absence of fractured vertebrae or severed spinal cord), but this stretching, along with vertebrae being opened at the discs, causes severe injury and should be handled with the assistance of a California spinal cord injury attorney.
Penetration happens when a foreign object such as a knife or shard of glass or metal penetrates the spinal column and severs the cord. Penetration usually does not coincide with damaged vertebrae.
Consequences of Traumatic Spinal Injuries
Spinal cord injuries prevent the brain from communicating with your body parts and as a consequence limit the ability the control you have over your limbs. The limitation depends on where along the spinal cord the injury is and how severe trauma was, the worst case being a complete severing of the spinal cord. Injuries are referred to as either complete, where you have no sensory or motor functions below the spinal cord injury, or incomplete if you still have some remaining motor or sensory function below the affected region.
All persons affected by spinal cord injury experience at least some of the following symptoms:
- Loss of movement, including complete or partial paralysis as in quadriplegia or paraplegia
- Loss of sensory function, such as the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
- Lack of bowel or bladder control
- Pain/stinging sensation due to nerve fiber damage
- Changes in sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility
- Problems breathing, coughing, or clearing lung secretions
The consequences of spinal injury, of course, go far beyond the physical or medical effects. Those who sustain spinal injuries learn to live life within the limitations of their injury. They may lose their ability to earn wages, support their family, go through extensive pain and suffering, and endure many other devastating long-term effects.
How a California Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident that resulted in a damaged spinal cord, you may be entitled to compensation for you medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and future medical costs. Give a California spinal cord injury lawyer a call today to begin discussing your legal options. At The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with auto accidents, personal injury, and spinal damage. Call us today for a free consultation.