The spine is responsible for relaying messages from the body to the brain. When the spine is damaged, the body’s ability to communicate with itself is compromised. This can result in a loss of sensation, feeling, and the ability to move.
Few injuries are as devastating as those involving the spine. Likewise, few injuries are as expensive as spine injuries. Unfortunately, avoidable accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries.
What Are the Most Common Types of Spine Injuries?
More than 17,000 people in the United States suffer a spine injury every year. A spine injury can be broadly defined as any damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the back, beginning at the base of the brain.
The spinal cord is an essential part of the body’s central nervous system. When the spine is damaged, it’s common to experience losses of sensation, feeling, movement, and control.
Complete vs. Incomplete
Spinal damage can be classified as complete or incomplete. A spinal cord injury is “complete” if you lose the ability to feel and move below the level of the injury; the injury is incomplete if you retain some sensation or movement below the level of the injury.
The level of injury is the specific location where your spine is injured. Generally speaking, the higher the injury on your spine, the more severe the injury. For example, injuries to the top of the spinal cord tend to be more devastating than injuries to the base of the spinal cord. Why? More of the body is below the level of the injury and, therefore, likely to be affected.
Spinal Injuries and Paralysis
Paralysis, or the loss of sensation and movement, is a common consequence of a spinal cord injury. When the spine is damaged, your body loses the ability to communicate. As a result, the brain is unable to successfully send signals to control different parts of the body.
The type of paralysis you may experience will depend on the level of your spinal injury:
- Quadriplegia: refers to the paralysis below the neck- including the arms, hands, legs, feet, pelvis, and trunk.
- Paraplegia: refers to the paralysis below the waist – including the legs, feet, pelvis, and trunk.
- Monoplegia: refers to the paralysis of a single limb.
- Hemiplegia: refers to the paralysis of the limbs on one side of the body.
While some types of paralysis are more severe than others, each results in loss of function—meaning each is devasting.
What Are the Signs, Symptoms, and Consequences of a Spinal Cord Injury?
The symptoms you experience will depend on which part of your spine has been damaged in the accident. Generally speaking, the higher the level of injury, the more severe the consequences and symptoms.
Spinal cord injury victims may experience:
- Chronic pain
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Loss of sensation or feeling
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of impairment of speech
- Inability or difficulty controlling the bladder and bowels
- Uncontrollable spasms or reflexes
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to regulate your body temperature, and
- Partial or complete paralysis.
It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of these symptoms after an accident. Early medical intervention can prevent your spinal cord injury from getting worse.
What Are Some Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries are typically caused by unexpected and, in many cases, avoidable trauma. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the leading causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Traffic Accidents: More than 38 percent of spinal cord injuries are sustained in traffic accidents involving cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
- Falls: Nearly one out of every three spinal cord injuries is the result of a fall. Falls are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in elderly victims.
- Assaults: Violent attacks, including assault, battery, and gunshot wounds, cause approximately 13 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
- Recreational Accidents: Recreational accidents and sporting injuries are responsible for approximately 8 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
- Medical Negligence: Medical malpractice and surgical errors account for nearly 5 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
In reality, any accident that impacts the body can damage the spinal cord.
What Damages Are Available to Spinal Cord Injury Victims?
Spinal cord injuries can have devastating physical and emotional consequences. The financial costs of your spine injury can also be quite overwhelming.
If someone else caused your spinal cord injury, you may be entitled to:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Nursing care, and more.
Between lifelong medical care, reduced earning capacity, and disability, a spine injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your life. More severe spinal cord injuries can even exceed a million dollars in costs.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Spine Injury Lawsuit?
You’ll only have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your spine injury. In most cases, your claim must be filed within four years of the date of your accident. You may have additional time to file a claim if your injury wasn’t detected right away. If you don’t file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, you’ll be barred from recovery any compensation for your injuries.
Contact Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyers
Have you or someone you love suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in a Miami accident? Contact the personal injury lawyers at Lavent law for immediate assistance. We know that dealing with a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. Our goal is to help you fight for the money you deserve. If someone else is to blame, we’ll help you hold them accountable. Call our office today to set up a free consultation. We’ll review your case, explain your options, and answer the questions you have.