5 Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michael Chaloupka with Metier Law Firm.
Spinal cord injuries or “SCIs” make up some of the most severe injuries a person can experience. The reason for this is due largely to the amount of nerves connected to the spinal cord, and the widespread damage that can occur when the spine is injured. SCIs can result in long recovery times, chronic pain, loss of mobility, and even partial or full paralysis. The medical care and ongoing life care expenses typically associated with SCIs can be significant, so it’s important to seek out every option for recovery in the event of one of these injuries. If an SCI occurs due to the negligence of one or more parties, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim to pursue compensation for these and other damages.
5 of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries according to the Mayo Clinic include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents make up the most common cause of SCIs.
- Falls: For people over the age of 65, falls are the most common cause of SCIs. For everyone else, falls are the second most common cause of SCIs. Falls often occur on the job; in these scenarios workers’ compensation benefits may also be applicable.
- Violence: Gunshot and knife wounds make up approximately 10% of all SCIs.
- Sports and recreation: High impact sports and diving are common causes of SCIs, particularly in active youth.
- Alcohol: Alcohol plays a known part in every 1 out 4 SCIs.
Depending on the cause of the event where the SCI occurred, it may or may not be possible to file a personal injury claim. For example, if an SCI occurred in some kind of motor vehicle accident where one or both parties were partially at fault, it may be possible to seek a full or partial recovery depending on your state. When an SCI occurs due to the criminal act of another party, such as assault, it may be possible to file a civil personal injury claim in addition to the ongoing criminal trial.
Damages that can be sought in a spinal cord injury lawsuit may include:
- Medical expenses. Spinal cord injuries can involve many medical complications and often result in extended hospital stay and recuperation time, not to mention frequent permanence of the injury, including full or partial paralysis and, in the worst-case scenario, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of a spinal cord injury victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expenses
It is imperative to seek medical care after a potential spinal cord injury.
Some SCIs may be immediately noticeable, while others may not. Whenever there is any possibility of an injury to the spine, it’s important to seek immediate medical care and be on the lookout for certain symptoms. Some injuries can worsen if left untreated, and may reduce the overall recovery outlook. This is one of the reasons it is vitally important to seek medical care as soon as possible after any kind of accident; even if someone does not feel injured or their injury feels minor, it could become much more painful and even debilitating down the road if left unidentified and/or untreated. Seeking care right away also ensures that an official record exists documenting the injury, as well as how and when it occurred. Some symptoms of an SCI to watch out for include:
- Loss of movement and/or sensation
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Muscle spasms
- Changes in sexual function/sensitivity
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Intense pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back
- Lack of coordination
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Oddly positioned back or neck
To learn more about spinal cord injuries or to discuss your options for recovery, reach out to an SCI attorney in your area.