Why Do Spinal Cord Injuries Require an Experienced Lawyer?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Your spinal cord controls all your key systems in your body, and damage to any section can have serious consequences on your health and quality of life. Spinal cord injuries (SCI) can happen anywhere, in motorcycle accidents, sports injuries, auto accidents, birth injuries, or even construction sites.
Because of the seriousness of a spinal cord injury, you need a personal injury attorney with extensive experience in spinal cord injury cases.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Your spinal cord houses your central nervous system. This controls your ability to breathe, move, eat, and think, and it tells your internal organs to function properly.
There are four zones for spinal injuries:
- Sacral Zone S1-S5 (buttocks, hips, and legs)
- Lumbar Zone L1-L5 (lower back)
- Thoracic Zone T1-T12 (middle back)
- Cervical Zone C1-C8 (upper back and neck)
Within these zones, you can suffer injuries to different areas of the cord.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
This injury impacts the nerves below the lumbar region, at the end of the spinal cord. It can cause loss of sensation or movement in the legs, low back pain, and loss of bladder and bowel control.
Brown-Sequard Syndrome occurs when one side of the spinal cord is injured, resulting in loss of sensation or movement on one side of the body.
Anterior Cord Syndrome
The anterior or front of the spinal cord sustains an injury to the anterior spinal artery. Anything below this injury is paralyzed.
Central Cord Syndrome
This injury occurs in the center of the spinal cord and significantly impacts the arms and hands. Central cord syndrome is the most common incomplete spinal injury because this artery is closest to the skin, making it susceptible to blunt force trauma and other damage.
Posterior Cord Syndrome
Posterior injuries, or trauma to the backside of the spinal cord, are rare. People with PCS maintain good sensation and movement but lack coordination of their limbs. Fine touch, vibration, and proprioception, or body position awareness, are impacted from the arms down.
Three types of spinal cord injuries can have an even more serious impact on your daily life. These include:
A spinal contusion also called nerve damage, is the most common spinal cord injury. The badly bruised spinal nerves are temporarily impacted, but with time, they will heal. Spinal contusions can cause numbness, weakness, cramping in your arms and legs, burning sensations, difficulty breathing, loss of bladder or bowel function, and speech difficulties. These symptoms, while serious, usually resolve within one year of the injury.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
An incomplete spinal cord injury causes a permanent loss of function, but not a total one. Although the full use of the affected part of the body never totally returns, some sensation or movement remains. Incomplete paraplegia and quadriplegia account for 19.6% and 47.6% of annual spinal cord injuries in the United States, respectively.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
This is the traditional paralysis most people think of with spinal cord injuries. The affected nerves are severed or completely damaged, resulting in total movement and sensation loss below the injury. Total paraplegia and quadriplegia account for 19.9% and 12.3% of injuries, respectively.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the average age for a spinal cord injury is 43 years old. While life expectancy is shorter for those with SCIs than the average population, this means that you can spend 20 years or more suffering from injuries to the spinal column, creating a huge financial impact on you and your loved ones.
An experienced spinal cord injury attorney understands the immense financial toll that those with an SCI experience. According to the same NSCISC data, the average time spent in rehabilitation facilities is 34 days, which can cost a significant amount.
The lifetime costs, including living expenses and health care, vary based on the type of injury. According to the NSCISC, injuries to C1-C8 can range from $796,000 to over $1 million in the first year alone. Paraplegia or loss of motor function in any part of the body range from $359,000 to $537,000 in the first year. On average, you can expect to spend $43,000 to $191,000 per year on medical care and living costs in subsequent years.
These figures do not include lost wages or non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment in life, and mental and emotional anguish.
Expertise in the Legal Process
If you sustain a spinal cord injury, your lawyer understands how to navigate the personal injury claims complex legal process. Whether your injury resulted from medical malpractice, product liability, a slip and fall, or a car accident, your attorney knows exactly where to begin to find out who is responsible for your pain and suffering.
Your lawyer can file the proper documents and keep abreast of the essential deadlines in a spinal cord injury lawsuit while you are recovering. You can focus on healing while your attorney takes care of the paperwork and collects evidence to build your case.
Battle with Insurance Companies
The last thing an insurance company wants to do is pay out money for a spinal cord injury. They know the complexities of this injury and the potential lifetime costs that can come with an SCI.
Your expert legal representative can begin the lengthy and often contentious process of filing claims with the insurance companies. Insurance companies may offer a lower settlement than what you deserve and try everything they can to keep their payout low.
The Value of Your Claim
If you’re the victim of an SCI, you may not fully understand what compensation you deserve.
Lawyers who work with spinal cord injury victims know that besides medical bills, you’ll need estimates of your future health care costs, transportation costs, home health assistance, and daily home maintenance expenses. If you need modifications to your home for a wheelchair or other assistance devices, you can also include these costs in your damages. They also know the impact of lost wages over the course of your lifetime.
Your attorney collaborates with medical experts to provide a full and detailed analysis of your injuries, along with medical evidence to help support your claim. They understand the insurance companies’ strategies and know how to build your case so that you have solid evidence the insurer can’t refute.
Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are very real to SCI victims, but they don’t have a calculable price tag. Your attorney can work with you to assess your previous daily life activities and highlight your injury’s impact on your enjoyment and function of these prior times. PTSD, persistent fear and anxiety, depression, and other post-trauma mental and emotional disabilities are also part of these non-economic damages.
Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, don’t wait. Get in touch with an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Senior partner Eileen Kroll is both a lawyer and an RN, providing her with unique expertise on the legal matters and medical evidence in your case. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW to receive your free consultation. We work on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid until we win your case.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.