A spinal cord injury often falls under the heading of a catastrophic injury. Spinal cord injuries include damage to any area of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. You could experience changes in bodily functions, as well as sensations below the injury site. Sometimes these changes are temporary, while other times they are permanent. Spinal cord injuries can cause secondary conditions that are debilitating or life-threatening, such as respiratory complications, pressure ulcers, chronic pain, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, deep vein thrombosis, and more. Spinal cord injuries can turn your life upside down, changing your future forever.
Your health can change drastically, your ability to work and make a living may be compromised, your finances can be stretched thin as you attempt to pay your medical expenses, and you could also deal with emotional trauma related to your spinal cord injury. It is important that you speak to a knowledgeable Richmond spinal cord injury lawyer from Tronfeld West & Durrett to ensure you have a strong advocate by your side who will defend your right to a fair settlement while helping you get the medical treatments you need.
What Types of Accidents Can Cause a Spinal Cord Injury?
Your spinal column is made up of vertebrae, discs, and narrow spaces that allow spinal nerves to travel to and from the rest of the body. Motor vehicle accidents and falls are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States, according to the NIH. The remainder of spinal cord injuries result from acts of violence, medical or surgical injuries, industrial accidents, sports injuries, and automobile accidents including large commercial truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and passenger vehicle accidents. Those involved in an accident with a large commercial truck have a high risk of death or catastrophic injury. Dive deep into informative content on automobile collisions.
These catastrophic injuries—like spinal cord injuries—are due to the disparity in size between an 80,000-pound truck and a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle. Motorcyclists are also at a higher risk of spinal cord injury due to a lack of protection like seatbelts, airbags, and a glass and steel “cage.” The same is true for bicyclists and pedestrians when they are hit by a vehicle. With virtually no protection, spinal cord injuries are much more likely. Falls are also a primary cause of spinal cord injuries. A slip-and-fall accident can occur as a result of a property owner’s negligence or can result from a workplace accident.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Caused in an Accident?
When the discs, ligaments, or vertebrae of the spinal column are damaged or there is damage to the spinal cord itself, serious results can occur. A sudden blow to the spine can crush, compress, dislocate, or fracture one or more of your vertebrae. During an automobile accident, these sudden blows as well as cuts to the spinal cord can occur. In the coming days or weeks following a spinal cord injury, bleeding, swelling, fluid accumulation, and inflammation can occur in the spinal cord. Motor tracts in your spinal cord carry messages between the brain and the rest of your body, allowing your brain to control muscle movements.
Sensory tracts carry signals from the body to the brain relating to pain, pressure, cold, heat, and limb position. Damage affects the nerve fibers that pass throughout the injured area, potentially impairing part or all of the nerve and muscle movement below the site of the injury. So, a chest or lower back injury can affect our legs, bowel and bladder control, torso, and sexual function, while a cervical injury can affect all those areas as well as your arms and even your ability to breathe.
What Are the Types of Spinal Cord Injuries Following an Accident?
A spinal cord injury is classified first as either a complete spinal cord injury or an incomplete spinal cord injury. A complete spinal cord injury leaves no function below the level of injury, including no voluntary movements and no sensation. An incomplete spinal cord injury leaves some level of function below the area of injury. When an individual has an incomplete spinal cord injury they may be able to move one limb more than the other. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common now thanks to the advances in acute spinal cord injury treatments. Aside from complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries, there are also four basic types of spinal cord injury: sacral, lumbar, thoracic, and cervical.
The cervical vertebra is comprised of seven vertebrae in the neck, labeled C-1 through C-7. When one or more of the cervical vertebrae is damaged, it can result in a loss of function in the arms and legs, known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. There are twelve chest vertebrae known as the thoracic vertebrae and begin at T-1, where the top rib attaches, down to T-12. A thoracic injury generally affects the legs and the chest, but not the arms, resulting in paraplegia. The lower back vertebrae are located where the ribs attach and from the pelvis to the end of the spinal column. Injuries to the five lumbar vertebrae (known as L-1 through L-5), as well as the five sacral vertebrae (S-1 through S-5), may result in some level of loss of function in the legs and the hips.
Less severe types of spinal cord injuries include herniated discs, fractures, disc pain, full or partial paralysis, and spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis occurs when the bony vertebrae slip out of position, placing pressure on the disc and the nerve. While there is a malalignment of the vertebra with spondylolisthesis, this condition is different than a herniated or ruptured disc. Herniated or ruptured discs involve damage to the soft interior of the spinal disc, making it slip or bulge through a tear in the outer layer of the disc. Traumatic spondylolisthesis can occur from a traumatic automobile accident injury. Discogenic pain is a type of low back pain resulting from damaged intervertebral discs.
Could a Spinal Cord Injury Affect the Brain?
Spinal cord injuries can affect the brain as well as other parts of the body. Even when there is no direct effect on the brain, an individual who sustains a spinal cord injury could nevertheless notice symptoms related to memory and the way thoughts are processed. Inflammatory changes that accompany a spinal cord injury can potentially affect the entire central nervous system, including the brain.
This can cause changes in the ability to solve problems. A reduction in oxygen supply, whether from difficulty managing airway ventilation or from respiratory arrest at the time of the spinal cord injury can result in brain damage, either mild or more severe. The strong painkillers, antidepressants, and other medications used for those with a spinal cord injury can cause changes in memory, mood, and the ability to focus.
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Why Should I Hire a Richmond Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Near Me?
Spinal cord injuries can be extremely complex, with significant benefits from having the help of a skilled Richmond spinal cord injury lawyer from Tronfeld West & Durrett. In a split second, a spinal cord injury can change your life forever, whether from a slip-and-fall accident in a public place or at work, a fall from a height, or an automobile accident. You could be looking at months or years of chronic pain, medical procedures, rehabilitative therapies, the loss of your job, and the inability to live the life you lived prior to the accident.
In addition to the physical burdens associated with a spinal cord injury, there is often an emotional toll as well as a financial toll. When you are facing such an uncertain future, accepting a less-than-fair settlement from a deceptive insurance company could be the final straw. At Tronfeld West & Durrett we understand that you need a strong advocate who understands that the outcome of your spinal cord injury is not yet fully known. An attorney who specializes in catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries is crucial.
Your Richmond spinal cord injury will go after the liable party, ensuring they are held accountable while securing a fair settlement that fully covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and ongoing treatments. Your attorney will also know how to properly value your claim after doing the following:
- Estimating your future medical needs and associated costs
- Assessing your level of pain and suffering
- Accurately figuring your lost wages and lost future wages
- Comprehensively analyzing your injuries
Contact a Richmond Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer from Tronfeld West & Durrett
If the negligence of another person caused your spinal cord injury, an experienced Richmond spinal cord injury lawyer from Tronfeld West & Durrett can help you get through the coming months in the best way possible. Most victims of a spinal cord injury are unfamiliar with the legal system and completely unprepared for the level of paperwork required to file a claim and the many deadlines that must be met. At Tronfeld West & Durrett, we have been helping people with catastrophic injuries since 1972. We will fight for you, your family, and your future. Contact Tronfeld West and Durrett today for a comprehensive review of your spinal cord injury claim.