Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers in Auburn, AL
The effects of a spinal cord injury can be long-reaching and devastating in multiple ways. Victims often find themselves struggling with limited mobility, chronic pain, and a steadily growing pile of medical bills. The physical, mental, and financial fallout of a spinal cord injury can affect a victim and their loved ones for decades.
That’s why it’s important to seek legal help if you’ve suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence. While nothing can take back the pain you’ve endured because of your injuries, you shouldn’t have to face the financial struggles of a serious injury alone. The team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us at 334-821-3892 to schedule a consultation.
An Overview of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are unique in the wide range of ways they can affect an individual’s life. The way an injury impacts you depends largely on which part of the spinal cord is damaged and how much damage the spinal cord sustains. Victims often suffer permanent losses in strength, mobility, and sensation. Obviously, these changes can limit an individual’s ability to earn a living, take care of their family, or otherwise fulfill their daily obligations.
Each year, there are almost 18,000 new spinal cord injuries in the United States. Full recoveries are rare, but many victims are able to recover some level of function with extensive physical therapy, surgical treatment, and occupational therapy.
Injuries by Type and Level
To understand a spinal cord injury better, you must know what type of injury it is and where it occurred on the spine.
Injuries are generally classified as complete or incomplete. A complete injury occurs when the spinal cord is affected across its entire width at the site of injury. This means that no communication with the brain can occur below the point of injury. Complete injuries are clearly very serious, and the higher up they occur on the spine, the more negatively impacted a victim is.
Incomplete injuries occur when the entire width of the spine is not affected by the injury. This doesn’t mean that the injury is not severe—an incomplete spinal cord injury can still cause serious mobility, sensation, and functional losses. However, victims do generally have some level of sensation below the impacted area.
The level of a spinal cord injury refers to its location on the cord. The first eight vertebrae on the spine are the cerebral nerves, which control the arms, hands, trunk, and legs. This is the most serious level of injury because every area of function below the cervical spine is negatively impacted. Victims often require in-home care or placement in a nursing facility.
Thoracic injuries affect those in the next 12 vertebrae. The core of the body and the legs are generally impacted, but victims often retain use of their arms and hands. Depending on which part of the thoracic spine is affected, the victim may or not be able to maintain balance and trunk control.
The lumbar nerves include the next five vertebrae. Damage to this area of the spinal cord often results in limited control of the bowel and bladder, pain in the hips, and possibly some limited mobility in the legs.
Damage to the five sacral nerves at the bottom of the spine tend to impact the hips and legs. However, victims with injuries at this level can generally still walk with assistance.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are numerous reasons spinal injuries occur, and many times, they happen because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions. Some of the most common reasons for spinal cord injuries include:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: Auto accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, accounting for almost 40% of these types of injuries. Spinal injuries occur most often during serious vehicle crashes, and alcohol use is a factor in a large number of these cases.
- Falls: Falling is the second-leading cause of spinal cord injuries overall, but it is the leading cause among individuals over the age of 65. Falls often occur because of unsafe premises in which a property owner or caretaker fails to take reasonable steps to remove a hazard or alert visitors of its presence.
- Violent Acts: The third-leading cause of spinal cord injuries is violence. This can come in several forms, such as assault, knife and gunshot wounds.
- Sports Injuries: Sports activities that involve collisions or other dangerous acts are the fourth-leading cause of spinal injuries. Examples include helmet-to-helmet football collisions and diving into shallow water.
- Medical/Surgical: The fifth-leading cause of spinal cord injuries is medical/surgical factors. This may be certain diseases such as cancer or osteoarthritis, or various types of medical malpractice (such as surgical errors).
The Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries
Until you live with your spinal cord injury for an extended period of time, it’s impossible to know the full impact it will have on your life. Early on, victims may suffer numbness, tingling, pain, general weakness and fatigue, and paralysis. Some victims have poor coordination, which they may attribute to the accident that caused their injury. Because of this, it may take time to diagnose a spinal cord injury.
The physical limitations are often the most difficult for a victim to overcome. Those with high-level spinal cord injuries are often completely unable to move, so they require around-the-clock care, assistance with daily living activities, and constant medical assistance. People with injuries further down on the spinal cord may or may not need around-the-clock care, depending on the severity of their injury and how quickly they receive treatment.
Even those who do not need 24-hour care will generally need months or years to get used to their new normal. Those who retain their mobility often need extensive physical therapy and occupational therapy. After reaching maximum medical improvement, they may need the assistance of a walker to move around independently.
The physical effects can cause serious mental and emotional health issues for victims. Victims often struggle with the sudden loss of independence and the loss of their normal life. They may become withdrawn and refuse to reach out to loved ones for fear of burdening them. Recovering from the mental trauma of a spinal cord injury often requires extensive therapy and counseling.
Why You Need an Auburn Attorney on Your Side
To face the physical and emotional impact of a spinal cord injury, an individual needs enough money for comprehensive medical care, physical therapy, and mental health treatment. However, a spinal cord injury often leaves victims unable to work. In this situation, a personal injury claim is one way for an accident victim to get the compensation they deserve.
Getting the compensation that you deserve is nearly impossible on your own due to how insurance companies approach these claims. They know that spinal cord injuries can be extraordinarily expensive, and they don’t want to be on the hook for all of your expenses. Their goal is to get to you quickly, get you to accept a low settlement before you know the extent of your injuries, and save their company from future lawsuits.
An attorney knows these tricks and how to avoid them. Your attorney will be able to analyze the accident that caused your injuries and gather evidence on how your injuries have impacted your life. This puts them in a strong position to start negotiations and advocate on your behalf.
A spinal cord injury could limit your earning potential for the rest of your life. Don’t underestimate how much your case is worth. Talk about it with an attorney first.
Contact Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short Now
At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, we know how a spinal cord injury can completely change the course of your life. We’re here to fight for the compensation you’re owed. Schedule a meeting now by calling us at 334-821-3892 or contacting our team .