5 Things Car Accident Victims Need To Know About Spinal Cord Injuries
While physical labor, falls, sports accidents, and acts of violence are also common causes of spinal cord injuries (SCI), car accidents cause the majority of spinal cord injuries in the United States. In fact, they account for nearly 391,000 spinal cord injuries every year. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with SCI after being involved in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a negligent party, here are five things you need to know.
Not All Spinal Cord Injuries Are The Same
The spinal cord runs all the way from the brainstem to the tailbone. Different areas of the spinal cord correspond with particular areas and systems of the body. As such, not all types of spinal cord injuries are the same, will result in the same types of problems, or will require the same level of medical care; those factors will heavily depend on the extent of the injury and the level of the spinal cord affected.
Paralysis resulting from an SCI is a central nervous system disorder causing difficulty or the inability to move one’s own extremities. It is generally the result of damage to the spinal cord, such as in a traumatic injury in a motor vehicle accident. There are several different types of paralysis, which include:
- Monoplegia: Affects only a single arm or leg
- Hemiplegia: Affects a single arm and leg on the same side of the body
- Paraplegia: Affects both legs
- Quadriplegia (also referred to as tetraplegia): Affects all extremities
Even if two individuals suffer an SCI at the same level, they may experience different challenges and complications based on their previous quality of health and other factors of their accident. Other than paralysis, various conditions relating to spinal cord injuries include:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Muscle spasms
- Pressure ulcers
- Chronic pain
- Respiratory complications
- Muscle atrophy
- Increased risk for diabetes
- Increased risk for cardiovascular problems
- And more.
Spinal Cord Injuries Are Expensive
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are one of the most expensive injuries that accident victims can suffer. Individuals left with paralysis will face a lifetime of medical bills and other expenses for their care and well-being. For example, in the U.S., spinal cord injuries alone cost about $40.5 billion annually. The costs for each individual will vary, depending on their level and the severity of their injury. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates these costs annually. According to their latest estimates, released in 2021:
- High tetraplegia (damage to the C1-C4 cervical nerves) has an average price tag of $1,163,425 over the first year and $202,032 each additional year.
- Low tetraplegia (damage to the lower part of the spinal cord C5-C8 cervical nerves) costs an average of $840,676 during the first year and $123,938 each year after that.
- Paraplegia (paralysis of the lower limbs or parts of the pelvic area) has an average price tag of $567,011 over the first year and $75,112 each additional year.
- Incomplete motor function at any level costs an average of $379,698 during the first year and $46,119 each year after that.
Paraplegia, or paralysis from the waist down, results in about half of these amounts. However, these figures don’t account for travel costs to medical appointments, lost wages, lost earning potential, or household modifications that need to be made.
Determining how much someone with an SCI will need to cover all of these types of damages usually requires an actuarial accountant, a lawyer experienced in SCI cases, and potentially other professionals. Therefore, it’s crucial that anyone diagnosed with SCI after a car accident seek the help of an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer to ensure they maximize their compensation.
Spinal Cord Injuries Aren’t Just Physical Injuries
Car accident victims who suffer spinal cord injuries deserve compensation, not just for their economic damages (like medical bills and lost wages), but also for their non-economic damages (like pain and suffering, which don’t have a clear “number” attached, but that do matter and that can be quantified). Patients who have been paralyzed endure additional mental, emotional, and physical hardships. Their dreams may have been crushed. Their hobbies may no longer be available to them. Relying on others for care can be humiliating, as can any physical disfigurement. Body image issues are prevalent among those with spinal cord injuries, and so are depression and other mental illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 20-30 percent of people with SCI show clinically significant signs of depression, which often hinders their improved functioning and overall health.
Insurance Companies Look Out For Themselves
With spinal cord injuries incurring so many costs, it’s no wonder that insurance companies often attempt to escape having to pay when their insured customer is liable for the injury. Insurers will commonly hire large law firms and use many tricks and tactics to avoid paying car accident victims fairly for their SCI damages. Spinal cord injury claims are sometimes the most significant claims they are faced with. If a car insurance company has to pay a high claim, it’s less money in their pocket as a profit, so they will do everything in their power to devalue or deny these types of claims. Considering this, spinal cord injury victims need experienced personal injury attorneys on their side who know how to stand up to tough insurers and their legal teams! They need attorneys who can recognize the games insurance companies play and fight for victims’ rights, in court if necessary.
There’s Hope With The Florida Law Group
All of this information can be quite difficult to hear and process. We get it, and we’ve helped many people and their families who are facing the same diagnoses and struggles. However, we want you to know that there is hope out there. Americans with spinal cord injuries are living longer and fuller lives than ever before. There is ongoing research, such as epidural stimulation and stem cell research, to continually improve the treatments and quality of life for those with an SCI.
In addition to this, the skilled attorneys at The Florida Law Group can offer you hope of getting the compensation you deserve for such severe, life-altering injuries. We know the extreme physical, financial, and emotional toll that spinal cord injuries take on car accident victims and their families. Our attorneys work tirelessly to investigate your accident, identify the liable parties and applicable insurance companies, and negotiate a full and fair settlement on your behalf. If such a settlement agreement can’t be reached, we are seasoned trial attorneys who aren’t afraid to take your injury claim to court. To date, we have recovered over $1 billion for for our clients!
The first step in receiving financial recovery for your injuries is to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation with one of our compassionate lawyers. You pay nothing for this meeting, and, in fact, if you decide to hire us, you pay nothing until we actually win you money for your injuries! Call our firm or reach out to us online to schedule your consultation today.