Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury can be described as an injury that affects the spine or damages a person's spinal cord. Unfortunately, a spinal cord injury causes physical trauma, which may result in serious implications all over the body, including loss of mobility or movement. Sometimes, SCIs increase the risk of developing secondary conditions, such as chronic pain, pressure ulcers, and urinary tract infections.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Auto accidents
- Trauma during an auto accident
- Sports and recreational injuries
- Falling from a high platform
- A violent attack such as stabbing or gunshot
- Head or neck injuries from sporting events
- Diving into shallow water and hitting the bottom
- Electrocution or electrical accidents
Common Symptoms of
Spinal Cord Injuries
Below are some common signs and symptoms of SCIs:
- Loss of mobility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation
- Inability to control your sexual functions
- Inability to move the arms and legs
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of bowel movement or bladder control
- Loss of sensation
- Spasms or intense reflex actions
- Loss or altered sensation or inability to feel touch, heat, and cold
- Breathing difficulties
- Unnatural positioning of the head
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs due to forceful, swift back-and-forth movement of the neck. Due to the sudden movement, whiplash can damage the top of the spinal cord (cervical vertebrae). This is the area of the spine that is responsible for the movement of the arm and head, breathing, and other important functions. Unfortunately, whiplash could cause the cervical vertebrae to become misaligned or damaged.
The long-term impact of a spinal cord injury often depends on the area/section where the injury occurred in the spine. Medically, the spine is divided into various sections, and each area determines the level of risk for long-term effects:
Sacral Area (S1-S5 Vertebrae)
The sacral area is the lowest region of the spine and can be found directly above the tailbone. When this area is injured, the victim will experience problems in their pelvis, hips, thighs, and buttocks.
Lumbar Region (L1-L5 Vertebrae)
The lumbar region is located directly above the sacral area. When this area is injured, the victim typically experiences problems in their legs and hips and may find it difficult to stand or walk.
Thoracic Region (T1-T12 Vertebrae)
The thoracic region is the middle and upper sections of the spine. When this area is injured, the victim may experience issues in their abdomen, chest, and back.
Cervical Region (C1-C7 Vertebrae)
The cervical region is the uppermost section of the spinal cord. An injury to this area is generally considered the most severe and may lead to paralysis.
However, depending on the severity of the injury, the spinal cord injury may either be complete or incomplete.
Incomplete vs. Complete Spinal Injury
The severity of a spinal cord injury – "the completeness" of the injury – may be categorized into complete and incomplete.
- Complete Spinal Injury: A spinal cord injury is considered complete if all sensory (feeling) and motor function (movement) below the spinal cord injury are lost.
- Incomplete Spinal Injury: Conversely, a spinal cord injury is considered incomplete if there are still some sensory or motor functions below the spinal cord injury.
An experienced attorney can evaluate your unique situation, help prove negligence, and determine your available options to recover damages.
Illinois is an at-fault state. This means that the at-fault party will be held liable for medical bills, property damages, and other accident-related expenses suffered by the injured victims. However, to recover damages, the plaintiff will need to prove negligence by showing the following elements:
- Duty: The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant breached that duty of care.
- Causation: The defendant's breach of duty of care or negligent actions caused your spinal cord injury.
- Damages: You suffered actual harm or bodily injuries.
Depending on the available information and evidence, an experienced personal injury attorney can help prove negligence, establish liability, estimate your case’s value, and help negotiate fair compensation.
By filing a spinal cord injury claim, you may be able to recover the following compensation:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Costs for medical and adaptive devices
- Physical and psychological therapy expenses
- Loss of wages/income and benefits
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate all the surrounding facts of your personal situation and help pursue your rightful compensation.
Work With an Experienced
Personal Injury Attorney
Spinal cord injuries are often severe and can cause devastating, long-lasting ramifications on your physical, mental, and financial health. However, you don't have to face the financial liability and challenges all by yourself. Therefore, it is important that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to advocate for your legal rights and help pursue the financial justice that you deserve.
At Marker & Crannell, our attorneys have the extensive experience and resources to help injured victims hold those liable for their spinal cord injury responsible. Using their knowledge of the laws addressing liability in personal injury cases involving spinal cord injuries, our team will guide you through the often complex legal process. We will fight compassionately on your behalf to protect your best interests and help recover fair compensation for your injuries.