Spinal Cord Injuries Can Be Life Changing
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) usually result from trauma to the head, neck, or back. Currently, the leading causes of spinal cord injuries are automobile crashes (38.3 percent), acts of violence (13.8 percent), and falls (31.6 percent); however, medical negligence, work-related accidents, and premises liability incidents also cause SCIs. Recent data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports an average of 17,700 new spinal cord injuries each year.
One of the most serious catastrophic injuries that an individual can sustain, SCIs often result from someone else’s negligence. Whether caused by vehicle accidents, ranch accident, medical malpractice, workplace incident, or intentional assault, victims are usually entitled to seek compensation for their physical, financial, and emotional losses. If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury in a preventable accident, reach out to the Robert Pahlke Law Group today to inquire about how to seek compensation for your injuries.
Facing Disability, Financial Hardship, and Mortality
Victims of SCIs recover from their injuries in their own way and at their own pace. The most common types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Cervical SCI. When the spinal cord is damaged at the cervical level, it often causes weakness or paralysis in both the arms and legs, also known as quadriplegia. This type of damage to the spinal cord typically affects the body below the point of the injury.
- Thoracic SCI. Damage to the thoracic region of the spinal cord commonly causes weakness or paralysis of the legs, called paraplegia. Because the thoracic level of the spinal cord controls certain parts of the back and abdomen, some victims may need to wear a brace to provide stability.
- Lumbar SCI. Damage to the lumbar region of the spinal cord can result in paraplegia. Lumbar spinal cord injuries often require surgery and external stabilization.
- Sacral SCI. The sacral region of the spinal cord controls the signals sent to the genital organs, thighs, lower legs, and feet, and injury can cause the loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, and weakness or paralysis in the legs or hips.
Spinal bones (vertebrae) protect the spinal cord and give shape and structure to the neck (cervical spine), mid-back (thoracic spine), and low back (lumbar spine). Injury and trauma to the vertebrae can result in nerve damage, causing burning, throbbing, and stabbing pain. There are five different types of spinal fractures, some of which can result in:
- Paraplegia – Loss of movement and feeling in the lower half of the body.
- Quadriplegia (also called tetraplegia) – Loss of movement and feeling in all four limbs
The most common types of spinal fractures are:
- Compression fractures, where only the front part of a vertebra breaks.
- Axial burst fractures, where a broken vertebra loses height in the front and back.
- Flexion fractures, where the vertebrae are pulled apart.
- Transverse process fractures, where rotation or sideways bending causes a fracture.
- Fracture-dislocations, where vertebrae movement causes a displacement.
The impact of trauma can also cause spinal discs to slip or bulge from the spinal column and compress surrounding nerves. Spinal discs provide pliancy and shock absorption for the spine. When these discs misalign and put pressure on the nerves, movement may become extremely painful.
Surgical treatment for spinal fractures and disc injuries may be necessary to provide stability and eliminate pain if symptoms persist beyond conservative treatments. The following ailments may require surgery:
- Spinal fusion
The severity of spinal damage depends on whether the injury is complete or incomplete. If incomplete, the spinal cord retains some ability to send and receive signals from the brain. If complete, injured individuals suffer from a complete lack of motor function and sensation below the point of the damage to the spinal cord. An SCI may result in the following consequences:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
- Pain or intense stinging sensation
- A difficulty with walking and balance
With time, some disc injuries will heal with conservative treatments, including:
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
- Oral steroids
- Epidural injections
- Manual traction
- Chiropractic manipulations
- Ice and heat therapy
- Physical therapy
Understandably, loss of independence, feeling helpless, and a decrease in the enjoyment of life are serious consequences that those who suffer a permanent spinal cord injury often experience. Injured individuals also face increased rates of depression, divorce, and substance abuse.
Treatments for a spinal cord injury may include:
- High dose steroids
Individuals who choose to file a personal injury lawsuit following a spinal cord injury face many challenges. Insurance companies may employ a variety of tactics to deny liability or reduce how much compensation they must pay. For example, an insurance company may allege that a victim’s own negligence contributed to his or her injuries. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer will give you the best chance of securing financial compensation.
The lengthy recovery and possible periods of disability that follow a spinal cord injury may leave families with significant financial hardships, such as:
- Medical costs
- Prescription medication
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Loss of sick leave benefits
- Decreased productivity at work
If you or someone in your family has suffered a spinal cord injury and faces the possibility of long-term treatment, your future may hinge on retaining experienced legal counsel. At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, our legal team understands the catastrophic impact a spinal cord injury can have on your life. We know how to fight for justice and compensation. Recently, a spinal cord injury victim who was left paralyzed requested that we retry his personal injury case; we secured a record-breaking verdict of $21,131,633 for him.
No family plans for the challenges and devastation that accompany an SCI. Following such an injury, homes may require extensive modifications. For example, doorways may need to be widened to allow for a wheelchair to pass through; bathrooms may need to be renovated to provide easy access; and adaptive equipment may be necessary to help with mobility.
According to the NSCISC, the annual first-year health care costs for a spinal cord injury victim range from $359,783 to $1,102,403; lifetime expenses can top $4 million. These average expense numbers include only health care costs and additional living expenses that result from an SCI; they do not include indirect costs, such as lost wages, fringe benefits, and productivity. Of these indirect costs, the NSCISC estimates that victims will incur slightly more than $74,000 annually.
The costs of rehabilitation therapy, combined with wages lost during the recovery process, can be significant. Protect your right to financial freedom. Contact an attorney at our firm today to discuss your eligibility to seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Effect on Life Expectancy
While spinal cord injuries that only impact a victim’s muscles, vertebrae, and discs are usually self-limiting and resolve over time with proper treatment, injuries that involve nerve damage can result in paralysis. This condition is life-changing and can leave the victim with a predisposition to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol issues, and urinary disorders. In addition, victims who suffer severe SCIs may develop metabolic and nutritional disturbances, musculoskeletal disorders, and suicidal ideations.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that the average remaining years of life for spinal cord injury victims has not improved since the 1980s and remains significantly below the average life expectancy of individuals who have not sustained a spinal cord injury. Mortality rates are significantly higher during the first year after injury than during subsequent years.
When You Need a Nebraska Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
If you are hurt due to the careless or reckless actions of another individual, the law is on your side. In addition to the physical and emotional consequences of a spinal cord injury, an injured individual’s personal life may be dramatically altered, including his or her employment, marriage, and other relationships. By working with a skilled personal injury lawyer, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for your injuries, including for pain and suffering, hospital costs, doctor bills, and lost wages. Personal injury victims frequently recover a variety of compensatory damages, including:
- Lost potential for future earnings
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering damages
- Emotional damages
- Medical expenses
At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, we have experience representing individuals who have suffered serious spinal cord injuries. Our firm’s personal injury attorneys may be able to help you hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their negligence. We have more than 85 years of combined legal experience, and we are dedicated to helping our clients secure compensation for the full cost of their injuries. We offer a free initial consultation for you to ask questions and determine your eligibility to file a personal injury lawsuit. We typically use a contingency fee arrangement, which means that you do not pay us any attorney fees unless you win your lawsuit, whether through insurance settlement before trial or in court. Don’t risk your financial future, call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation.