Injuries to the spinal cord are sometimes disabling and always devastating. In the Indianapolis area or anywhere in Indiana, if you suffer an injury to the spinal cord because of someone else’s negligence, speak to an Indiana personal injury lawyer at once about your legal rights and options.
What are the causes of spinal cord injuries? How are injuries to the spinal cord classified and described? Can you be compensated if someone else was at fault for injuring you? And what legal measures can you take if you suffer a spinal cord injury because someone was negligent?
If you’ll keep reading this short discussion of liability, the law, and injuries to the spinal cord, you’ll learn the answers to these questions. You’ll also learn about recovering the compensation injured victims of negligence are entitled to under Indiana law.
What Should You Know About Injuries to the Spinal Cord?
Approximately 12,000 spinal injuries are reported each year in the U.S., and about 250,000 people in the U.S. are permanently disabled with a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries are caused by jolts or blows to the spine that compress, fracture, dislocate, or crush vertebrae, spinal discs, ligaments, or the cord itself.
Injuries to the spinal cord may cause permanent disability and prevent the victim from ever returning to work. Spinal cord injuries can require medical treatment and care that, over the course of a lifetime, could cost millions of dollars.
The victims of spinal cord injuries may not immediately realize they’ve been injured. It sometimes takes several days or even several weeks before swelling, bleeding, inflammation, or fluid accumulation emerges as a serious medical condition.
Because spinal cord injuries may be latent and hard to detect, have a medical examination right away after any type of accident – within 24 hours, if possible – even if you’re feeling fine. An injury to the spinal cord should be detected immediately, because delayed treatment will probably be less effective than prompt treatment.
How Are Spinal Cords Injured?
These are the top causes of spinal cord injuries:
1. Traffic accidents: Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for over a third of all spinal cord injuries every year.
2. Slip- or trip-and-fall accidents: For those sixty-five and older, slipping or tripping and falling is the number one cause of injuries to the spinal cord.
3. Violence: Firearm and knife-related acts of violence are behind about fifteen percent of all reported spinal cord injuries.
4. Alcohol abuse: Alcohol plays a role in about a quarter of all spinal cord injuries – including the injuries suffered in traffic crashes and violent incidents.
5. Sports: Just under ten percent of all reported spinal cord injuries are suffered by athletes in competition or training.
Our spinal cords are composed of vertebrae, soft tissue, nerve cells, and groups of nerves called tracts, which are essential to our motor and sensory functions. When any part of your spinal cord is damaged, the results can be tragic.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Categorized and Described?
Spinal cord injuries are either “complete” or “incomplete.” A complete injury occurs when the spinal cord is compressed, fractured, or severed. Complete spinal cord injuries cause victims to lose all movement and sensation in every body area below the location of the injury.
An injury to the spinal cord is incomplete when the cord has been partially compressed or fractured. The injury victim will still have a degree of movement and sensation in those body areas below the location of the injury.
Spinal cord injuries may also be classified based on the location of the injury. While every spinal cord injury is unique, generally speaking, injuries higher on the body are usually more serious. For classifying spinal cord injuries, the cord may be divided into five sections:
3. lumbar spine (lower back vertebrae)
4. thoracic spine (mid-back vertebrae)
5. cervical spine (neck vertebrae)
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Spinal Injuries?
If your spinal cord is injured, swelling and inflammation may exacerbate the injury. A bulging disc may be an indication of cervical radiculopathy. Cervical radiculopathy can cause pain due to nerve root compression. A victim may experience:
1. triplegia (partial or complete loss of sensation and movement in both legs and one arm)
2. paraplegia (partial or complete loss of sensation and movement in both legs)
3. tetraplegia (partial or complete loss of sensation and movement in all the arms and legs)
Victims of spinal cord injuries might also experience complications and conditions that include circulatory issues, breathing difficulties, loss of bladder and bowel control, blood clots, depression, muscle spasms, and sleep disorders.
What Are the Rights of Injured Negligence Victims?
The consequences of a spinal cord injury can be devastating and permanent. Should you sustain a spinal injury because someone – a careless property owner or a reckless driver, for example – was negligent and irresponsible, speak to an Indiana spinal cord accident attorney right away.
In Indiana, injured victims of negligence are entitled by law to recover complete compensation for their medical expenses, lost earnings, and related losses and damages if another person’s negligence is the reason the victim was injured.
However, “entitlement” to compensation doesn’t mean that a check will simply appear in your bank account or your mailbox. You and your personal injury attorney may have to prove that you suffered a spinal cord injury because someone else was negligent.
How Will Your Personal Injury Attorney Handle Your Case?
Whether your spinal cord is injured in a traffic crash, an on-the-job accident, a slip-and-fall incident, or in any other accident scenario, if someone else’s negligence was the cause of your injury, a personal injury attorney with spinal cord accident experience may be able to help.
In fact, recovering compensation after a spinal cord injury will require the services, insights, and advice of an Indiana personal injury lawyer who will handle the paperwork, insurance company, and other side’s attorney.
Most personal injury claims in Indiana are resolved in out-of-court negotiations. However, if your injury claim is denied or disputed for any reason, your spinal cord accident attorney will take your case to trial and ask a jury to order the payment of your compensation.
Nothing is more important than your health and your future. The right Indiana spinal cord accident attorney will advocate aggressively and effectively on your behalf for the full compensation that you’re entitled to under Indiana law.