Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe personal injuries we can experience. These injuries can cause paralysis and loss of sensation below the site of the injury.
There are a variety of causes of spinal injuries, including bullet or stab wounds, traumatic injury (especially in a car accident), diving accidents, electric shocks, extreme twisting, sports injuries, and falls. A serious spinal injury can be a radically life-changing event in an individual’s life.
If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury to your spinal cord as the result of another person’s negligence, contact the Tucson spinal injury lawyers at Khalidi Law Firm for a free consultation.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are many ways the spinal cord can be injured, including paralysis injuries, but spinal cord injuries are broadly divided into two categories: complete and incomplete.
- Incomplete spinal cord injuries: These account for more than 60 percent of spinal cord injuries. With incomplete injuries, the spinal cord is only partially severed. Some function is retained below the site of the injury.
- Complete spinal cord injuries: As you’d expect, complete injuries are those that completely sever the spinal cord. These injuries eliminate all function below the site of the injury.
Please note that these are only the broadest categories of spinal cord injuries. These injuries are also differentiated by where the spine was injured (front, back, middle) and the patterns the paralysis takes (quadriplegia, paraplegia, etc.).
Level of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are also categorized in terms of their level. The level of a spinal cord injury measures which of the vertebrae has been injured. The injury level specifies which portion of the cord (cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral) has been injured, as well as which particular vertebra has suffered the injury.
In this naming and numbering system, the higher the number of the vertebra, the lower down the back it is located. The C1 (first cervical vertebra) is the first vertebra of the neck, for example. If you’ve suffered an injury, your doctor will give you more detailed information about which specific vertebrae are damaged. Be sure to ask questions, or have a patient advocate present to ask questions on your behalf. You’ll want to understand details of your injury to understand it, and to understand how you will live with your injury after your initial trauma heals.
Treatment for spinal cord injuries will vary significantly depending on the nature of the injury, but you can be sure it will involve at least a few of the following:
- Physical therapy to strengthen the area that’s been injured
- Surgery, whether to remove an object or body part that penetrated the spinal cord or to limit movement in the spinal column
- Steroid injections, to reduce inflammation
- Short-term use of a ventilator or feeding tube if the injury prevents easy breathing or eating
- Lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, switching to a healthier diet, etc.)
- Family and individual counseling.
A severe spinal cord injury is a major change in the life of the person who receives the injury, but it’s also a serious shift in the lives of an individual’s family and close friends. A free-spirited individual may suddenly find himself needing help from others to do even the most basic things. Family members may suddenly find themselves in the role of caretaker for an injured family member.
These sudden changes are one of the reasons why many families seek counseling after one of their members experiences a severe spinal injury. In some cases, this counseling may go on indefinitely.
Treatment for spinal cord injuries is involved and extensive. Even in the most treatable injuries, an individual is likely to need treatment for the rest of his or her life. This fact alone is partially responsible for the high medical costs involved in spinal injuries, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Note: There are also promising indications that stem cell treatments may be able to regenerate damaged tissues. These treatments are still in their developmental stage, but the future looks bright for regenerative treatments.
Financial Realities of Spinal Injuries
The financial costs of spinal cord injuries are more than most people can afford. A partially paralyzed person can expect to incur more than $100,000 in medical expenses during the first year. A fully paralyzed person may incur more than $400,000 in expenses during that first year.
Those are medical expenses alone. They do not include regular costs of living or lost wages due to being unable to work. Most individuals who suffer from spinal cord injuries aren’t able to work as much or as effectively as they did before—if they’re able to work at all.
In addition, it’s important to note that these costs are the estimated expenses for the first year alone. A spinal cord injury is a lifelong injury that will require care and attention for the rest of the individual’s life. This means medical billings will be frequent, and it’s not impossible that the costs will rise over time. With lowered income and increased costs, many individuals who experience spinal cord injuries are unable to afford to cover their new expenses. This means legal action is often a necessity.
Financial compensation is meant to make up for such costs as hospitalization, medical care, at-home caregivers, rehabilitation, psychiatric care, lost wages, expenses not covered by insurance, travel expenses (for medical care), family support services, and funeral expenses.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, you will need legal help to get the funds to help you move forward with your life after the injury. We understand what you’re going through in this time, and we will do all we can to make the process easier for you.
How a Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. In addition, in the case of a severe (and expensive) injury like this, you’re likely to need it.
We help our clients in both English and Spanish.
One of the first ways an injury lawyer can help you is by finding the negligent party. In a car crash where the other driver wasn’t paying attention, it’s obvious who the negligent party is. But in other cases, you may need to speak to a legal professional before you can find the party responsible for your accident.
Many personal injury cases settle out of court. Of course, it’s always up to you whether you will accept a settlement offer or not, but an experienced attorney can offer you valuable guidance and let you know whether you’re getting a good offer from the insurance company (or whoever the negligent party might be). Many individuals who suffer a spinal cord injury are unable to work the way they did before the accident. That means it’s crucial to get as much as your claim is worth. The right attorney can help you do that.
Talk to Our Compassionate Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Let us help you determine if a spinal injury you or a loved one suffered in an accident may qualify for compensation under a personal injury claim. The spinal injury lawyers at The Khalidi Law Firm have more than 20 years of experience helping injured persons in the Tucson area get the closure they deserve. We know all too well the upheaval serious injuries cause to daily life, and to prospects for the future. If you have suffered injury or lost a loved one, we can help. Contact our Tucson spinal cord injury attorneys at The Khalidi Law Firm. You will not pay any fees unless we win your case.