According to the Mayo Clinic, automobile and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Each year, they account for almost half of all new spinal cord injuries experienced in the United States.
Spinal cord injuries are serious conditions that can forever alter your life. If you suffered one of these severe injuries after a car accident that was not your fault, Portner Bond, PLLC is here to help you recover and prepare financially for your future. With more than seven decades of combined experience representing Beaumont clients in car accident cases, our attorneys have the legal skills, compassion, and dogged determination you need in this trying time. Let us get to work to pursue full and fair compensation for you.
What Is the Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord is the column of nerves that runs from your brainstem to your lower back. It is protected by the vertebral column, which is the stack of individual vertebrae that make up your spine. Along with your brain, it is one of the main parts of the body’s central nervous system. It carries nerve signals from your brain throughout your body and back again, controlling movement and relaying information.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Given its important role in the body’s central nervous system, spinal cord injuries are serious. A spinal cord injury typically originates from a trauma to the spine. Trauma that results in a spinal cord injury will fracture, dislocate, or compress the vertebrae that protect the spinal cord, causing tears in the cord or pressure on specific areas. It is rare to sever the spinal cord entirely, except in situations that involve a gunshot or knife wound.
Spinal cord injuries are either complete or incomplete:
- Complete injury: In a complete spinal cord injury, the nerves are blocked from sending signals below the level of the injury, causing paralysis below the injury.
- Incomplete injury: In an incomplete spinal cord injury, the nerves are able to send some signals, allowing for some movement and sensation below the injury.
In the days and weeks following the trauma, spinal cord injuries can worsen due to bleeding, swelling, and inflammation that may surround the spinal cord after injury. If you have questions about your own case, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.
Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury After a Car Accident
Because of their severity, spinal cord injuries or suspected spinal cord injuries should be treated with urgency. Look for the following signs or symptoms of a spinal cord injury after a car accident:
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling in any part of the body
- Difficulty with walking or balancing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of movement or feeling
- Loss of control over bodily functions, such as bladder or bowel control or sexual function
- Extreme pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may be immediate, or they may develop gradually. Therefore, it is important to seek medical evaluation and treatment right away following any serious car accident. A medical professional will be able to spot the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury and act to prevent further damage. Any delay in treatment could cause the injury and prognosis for recovery to worsen.
Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries
In the immediate aftermath of a spinal cord injury, the effects on your body and bodily functions can be extreme and extensive. However, with time and treatment, you may be able to improve or adjust to some of these changes. Following a spinal cord injury, you may experience any of the following complications:
- Paralysis: Depending on the level of injury, patients with spinal cord injuries may experience varying levels of paralysis. Two common types of paralysis are paraplegia, in which you lose the ability to move from the waist down, and quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs.
- Bladder and bowel control: Your spinal cord is responsible for sending signals from your brain to your bladder and bowels to function properly. A spinal cord injury could prevent those nerve signals from reaching their intended targets. Changes in bladder or bowel control could also contribute to other issues, such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, etc.
- Pressure injuries: If you lose sensation in any part of your body, you may be susceptible to pressure injuries, such as bed sores or ulcers, in those areas.
- Circulatory system: Patients with spinal cord injuries may also experience circulatory problems such as fluctuations in blood pressure, blood clots, and swelling of the legs, arms, feet, or hands.
- Respiratory system: A spinal cord injury may make it difficult to breathe or cough. Some patients with spinal cord injuries are at increased risk of lung problems, such as pneumonia.
- Musculoskeletal system: Spinal cord injuries can increase patients’ risks for osteoporosis, fractures, muscle spasms, and muscle atrophy.
- Sexual health: Both men and women who suffer spinal cord injuries can experience changes in their sexual functions.
- Pain: Spinal cord injuries can cause severe pain, as damaged nerves misfire and send pain signals throughout your body. Even patients with complete spinal cord injuries can experience neuropathic pain in certain areas, despite their paralysis.
- Mental health: Experiencing a spinal cord injury can negatively affect your mental health. Some people may develop depression.
Seeking Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury
If you or a loved one experienced a spinal cord injury because of a car accident, you know how financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally burdensome this injury can be. In addition to the medical bills for emergency care immediately following the accident, you may need months, years, or a lifetime of treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy. Furthermore, your injury may require you to entirely alter your life, including your home, occupation, transportation, and support system.
Texas state law requires all drivers to have liability insurance to cover the costs of an accident that they cause, including a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for medical expenses. Unfortunately, that may not be enough to fully compensate you for the losses from a car accident that leads to a spinal cord injury.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you pursue the maximum compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, either from a settlement or, if necessary, a lawsuit.
Contact a Beaumont Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury after a car accident, do not waste another minute worrying alone about how you will deal with the consequences. Contact Portner Bond, PLLC at (409) 838-4444 and speak with one of our Beaumont car accident attorneys about your case today.