Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating injuries you can suffer. Depending on their severity and location, a survivor can end up with paraplegia or quadriplegia, life-shattering changes that require immense adaptations.
A spinal cord injury is, essentially, any injury that damages the spinal cord and disrupts communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are usually classified as complete or incomplete.
An incomplete SCI partially damages the spinal cord and can be caused by bruising, a partial cutting of the cord, stretching, having something pressing against the cord, or even having bone fragments or foreign bodies embedded in it. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 65% of SCIs are incomplete.
A complete SCI, accounting for about 35% of all SCIs, is one that causes permanent damage to the affected area. Complete spinal cord injuries result in a permanent and complete lack of motor and sensory functions below the injury location on the spinal cord.
According to Johns Hopkins, most SCIs affect the thoracic and cervical regions of the spinal cord. These are the two highest levels of the spine, ending at about the middle of the back. The largest single cause of SCIs is injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Other significant causes are falls, violence, sports, and illness.
These losses can include autonomic activity and other activities such as bowel and bladder control. Other symptoms, such as pain or sensitivity, muscle spasms, and sexual dysfunction, may develop over time. SCI patients are also prone to develop medical complications such as bladder infections, lung infections, and pressure sores.
SCI survivors also suffer devastating lifestyle changes. From being independent and self-supporting, the survivor may now depend on assistance from mechanical devices and care personnel to function at all, while the ability to earn a living may have disappeared. Social and familial life may also be irretrievably impacted and the victim may develop mood disorders arising from the changes.
All of these changes have a tremendous – and tremendously stressful – financial impact on the survivor as well. Lifetime medical needs for assistive care and equipment, the high risk of injury-induced infections and illnesses, and the complete loss of independence carry as big a financial cost as they do a physical and emotional one. And they do so just as the survivor is no longer able to bear those costs.
Since most SCIs result from accidents, the most likely case to file will be a personal injury lawsuit. However, this may vary depending upon where the accident occurred. A spinal cord injury lawyer will be able to guide you through this process.
If the SCI occurred while the survivor was on the job, it is most likely going to be limited to a Texas Workers Compensation case. Workers Comp will require the employer to cover certain lost wages and expenses but generally does not cover all of the losses. A Texas spinal cord injury attorney should look at your case to determine where there are other third parties potentially at fault who might contribute to your financial recovery.
If the SCI in your case occurred other than at work, then any party whose negligence caused the SCI may be liable to compensate the injured party. Again, the case is a personal injury case, and any party whose negligent conduct caused a foreseeable injury to the victim may be found liable. A TX spinal cord injury lawyer will be able to knowledgeably evaluate your case and discover potentially at-fault parties for any lawsuits to be filed.
A spine injury lawyer is one with extensive experience and skill in handling SCI lawsuits in Texas. Many law firms will have attorneys whose practice is concentrated in personal injuries, and some will even have attorneys who focus on SCIs. A skilled and knowledgeable spinal injury lawyer will evaluate your case based on deep experience in this area of the law and help you toward the best possible result for you.