Spinal cord injuries can have a devastating impact on an individual’s life. A spinal cord injury can be caused by trauma to the spinal cord resulting in a fracture that affects the nerves in the spinal canal. There are many different types of spinal cord injuries and the resulting physical impact varies from complete and total disability to various degrees of motor limitations.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury (the nerve bundle that goes from the base of the brain to the tailbone and is protected by the bony “vertebrae” of the spine), the extent of your injuries depends on at what level of the spinal cord you were injured. The degree of damage that a spinal cord injury presents depends on many factors. Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types.
The exact point of damage that is caused to the spinal cord is referred to as a lesion. These lesions are divided into four categories.
Neck injuries that result in quadriplegia are in the cervical or neck area. The cervical nerves in this area of the spine control the head/neck, diaphragm, biceps, deltoids, wrist, triceps and hands. If the C1 – C3 are effected, then quadriplegia may result causing complete paralysis of arms, body and legs. Since this also effects the diaphragm, the patient will not be able to breathe on their own. A respiratory system will be used as well as a ventilator that can transport oxygen. There are many challenges in a quadriplegia case such as lack of bodily control, the necessity of personal and domestic care and the inability to communication without assistance.
Injuries in the thoracic area of the spine result in paraplegia. The head, neck and shoulder area would have full movement while injuries in the T1 – T4 section would cause a complete paralysis of the lower body. An injury to this area of the spinal cord can be a devastating one.
A split between T10 – L1, these injuries may result in a partial paralysis of the lower body. Can cause decreased movement in hips and legs. Located in the lower back, L1 – L5, the nerves in this area control the lower parts of the body including the lower back and abdomen area and buttocks.
This area of the spinal cord controls the lower parts of the legs such as the feet and the genital organs.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, past and future; your lost wages, past and future; your lost earning capacity; and your pain and suffering. In addition, you may be awarded punitive damages, which are designed to punish the negligent person for acting with malice or conscious disregard for your safety. Oftentimes, this punitive damage award is as big or bigger than the compensatory damages mentioned above.
Although no amount of money can make up for the effects of a spinal cord injury, the law allows victims to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering. If nothing else, these awards will ease the financial burden and force the at-fault party to bear some of the responsibility. It is critical to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.
If you or a loved one have suffered from a spinal cord injury, it is important that you have a law firm that understands the magnitude of your injuries and the impact it will have on your life, your future and your family. It is important that you have a law firm represent you that has the experience needed to find all the sources of recovery and causes of action to compensate you for a lifetime of care.
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