Annually, an estimated 4 to 5 million people in the United States are affected by spinal cord injuries. Of these injuries, approximately 400,000 are severe enough to permanently impact the victim’s quality of life. Damage to the spinal cord most commonly occurs as a result of injuries to the cervical spine (the neck) or the lumbar spine (the back). Sadly, injuries like these often don’t heal completely, resulting in permanent disabilities.
The spinal cord is responsible for carrying signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Injuries can range in severity from minor bruises or contusions to tears. In some cases, the spinal cord itself may even be severed. The location where the damage occurs determines which body parts are affected. Injuries in the neck or upper part of the spine affect more of the body than injuries that occur lower down. When a victim loses all control of their muscles and can’t feel anything in the affected parts of their body, it is referred to as a complete spinal cord injury. With partial injuries, on the other hand, the victim may retain some ability to feel or move their muscles. In most cases, spinal cord injuries are caused by bruising instead of the spinal cord being severed. The severity of these injuries is why it is important to contact an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer if another person’s negligence has caused you to develop one. Call the personal injury firm of Calvin Smith Law today at (404) 383-7552 to schedule a free consultation.
An Overview Of The Spinal Column
The spinal column is made up of a collection of bones known as vertebrae. These bones are divided into different categories, based on where they are located in the spine. In the neck area, there are seven vertebrae that are known as cervical vertebrae. The chest area consists of twelve thoracic vertebrae, while the lower back is made up of five lumbar vertebrae. These vertebrae are all perfectly aligned with one another and are connected by ligaments, working together to create a flexible spinal column. The tailbone, which is at the base of the spine, consists of four or five segments of bone that are fused, creating a single bone that rests below the sacrum.
Each vertebra consists of two main parts: the vertebral body, which is in front of the spinal cord, and the neural bony arch, which is found behind the spinal cord on either side. Intervertebral disc structures connect the vertebral bodies. The inner portion of the disc, which is semi-gelatinous, consists of the nucleus pulposus, while the outer portion is made up of a ring of the annulus fibrosis. A thin layer of cartilage covers both the superior (upper) and inferior (lower) surfaces of each vertebra.
The Neural Arch
The neural arch, which is found on the posterior or rear portion of each vertebra, is made up of different parts. Pedicels connect the neural arch to each side of the vertebral body. Bilateral joints known as facets assist with the movement of the spine. These facets can be found on the rear portion of the neural arch. The superior facet is located on top and articulates with the vertebra that is located above. The inferior facet is located below that, while the laminate is located at the rear midpoint. The spinous process, which is the last portion of the neural arch, projects out from the back of the vertebra. This is where the muscles and ligaments are attached to the spine.
The Intravertebral Disc
Intravertebral discs separate each vertebral body from the one above. They begin at the second cervical vertebra and continue down to the sacrum, bonding the vertebrae to one another. Intervertebral discs are made up of two separate parts: the annulus fibrosis and the nucleus pulposus.
The annulus fibrosis is composed of laminae of fibrous tissue. The outer layer is made up of fibrous tissue while the other layer is made of fibrocartilage. The annulus fibrosis acts as a retaining sheath that is made up of fibrous tissue, surrounding the nucleus pulposus. The elastic nature of the annulus fibrosis applies pressure to the nucleus, which has a semi-gelatinous consistency, much like mucus or pulp.
A herniated disc, which is a common back injury, happens when the nucleus protrudes out from within the annulus fibrosis. Herniation can occur at the front or rear of the disc. Depending on the severity of the herniation and its direction, the nucleus pulposus can put pressure on nearby spinal nerve roots. This can cause pain or other issues in parts of the body that are enervated by those particular nerve roots.
Herniated discs frequently occur as a result of trauma. This can range from car accidents to on-the-job accidents. In essence, any injuries to the spinal column can cause herniated discs. With a posterior herniation, the nucleus pulposus may put pressure on the spinal nerve roots, resulting in significant pain. Depending on the severity of the problem, it may need to be corrected with surgery.
If an injury to the spinal cord is caused by the negligent actions of another person or party, contacting an attorney right away is essential. The lawyer you hire needs to conduct a thorough investigation, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and passionately pursue your claim. At Calvin Smith Law, our attorneys have experience with spinal cord injury cases in the Atlanta area. Along with our extensive medical knowledge, we also have helped many other clients successfully take their cases to court.
If you or someone you are close to suffered a spinal cord injury near Atlanta, let us put our experience to work on your behalf, pursuing compensation for your medical costs, lost income, rehabilitation expenses, medical supplies or equipment, pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment. In the past, we have gotten excellent results for our clients, whether they were paralyzed, became quadriplegic, or lost brain function due to their injuries.
What Are Some Of The Most Frequent Causes Of Injuries To The Spinal Cord?
Injuries to the spinal cord and resulting problems such as paralysis typically occur as a result of trauma to the spine. This trauma, which is usually quite severe, can leave the vertebrae crushed, compressed, dislocated, or fractured. The Mayo Clinic states that most spinal injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Accidents like these account for close to 50% of the injuries that occur. Approximately 24% of spinal cord injuries are the result of slip-and-fall accidents, while 11% occur as a result of violent encounters and 9% can be attributed to athletic injuries or disease. Injuries like these also commonly occur on construction sites. In the past, we have helped many clients who sustained spinal cord injuries on the job pursue compensation.
Spinal cord injuries can happen just about anywhere, from your home or place of work to the great outdoors. If someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior led to your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Claims are commonly filed in cases involving car accidents, defective products, unsafe properties, or on-the-job accidents. The attorneys here at Calvin Smith Law have assisted many clients in the past, helping them get fairly compensated for their damages. This not only includes their medical and rehabilitation expenses but also any money that they lost as a result of an inability to work. Other damages in cases like these can include pain and suffering, property damage, and more. Let our qualified attorneys help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Long-Term Effects Do Spinal Cord Injuries Have?
Injuries to the spinal cord commonly result in paralysis, which can include hemiplegia, paraplegia, and quadriplegia. Victims suffering from injuries like these frequently require around-the-clock care. The expenses associated with this type of care can be extremely high and can take an emotional toll on both the victims and their families.
Sometimes, spinal cord injuries don’t show any symptoms right away. Settling with the insurance company too soon is a mistake. You should wait to settle until you know how extensively you are injured. Some injuries don’t start causing problems for months or years. If you settle too soon, it may be too late to seek compensation by the time symptoms appear.
That is why it is essential to work with a qualified Georgia attorney who specializes in spinal cord injury cases. Your attorney should be well versed in injuries like these, giving them the knowledge that they need to help you pursue fair compensation for your damages.
How Frequently Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?
Unfortunately, injuries to the spinal cord are a lot more common than most people think. Many situations can contribute to injuries like these. For instance, they can occur as a result of a car accident or from a fall at work. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) recently published data showing that about 17,000 people in the US are affected by severe spinal cord injuries each year.
To get a better sense of what this means, an estimated 300,000 people in the US are currently living with debilitating spinal cord injuries. Further studies done by the NSC ISC have shown that the average spinal cord injury requires victims to spend 12 days in the hospital followed by months of recovery and rehabilitation. Sadly, injuries like these aren’t easy to heal from. Side effects of these injuries can impact victims for years. In severe cases, the damage may never heal, resulting in permanent injuries.
Understanding The Law Surrounding Spinal Cord Injuries
The majority of lawsuits involving spinal cord injuries are based around the legal concept of negligence. That means that the injury occurred as the result of another party’s negligence. For instance, if you got into a car accident that was caused by someone else or if you fell down a set of improperly-maintained stairs, you may be able to file a lawsuit. To win your case, you need to show that the defendant was to blame for your injuries.
Defective products can also contribute to spinal cord injuries. For instance, if your seatbelt malfunctioned or if the airbags in your vehicle didn’t work correctly, resulting in much more severe injuries than you otherwise would have sustained, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer.
Defenses Commonly Used In Spinal Injury Cases
Comparative and Contributory Negligence. In cases involving spinal injuries, defendants commonly try to argue that the victim is either partially or fully responsible for the injuries due to their own carelessness. For instance, the Mayo Clinic estimates that approximately 25% of spinal injury cases involve alcohol. In a situation like this, the defendant may argue that the victim was injured as a result of being intoxicated rather than because of anything the defendant did or didn’t do. The idea behind this defense has to do with something known as contributory negligence. This is a legal term used to describe situations where the carelessness of a victim contributes to their injuries. Comparative negligence is another common defense, where the court determines the percentage of fault to assign to both the defendant and the victim.
Assumption of the risk. This defense is commonly used in situations where spinal cord injuries occur while performing high-risk activities like skiing or bungee jumping. In cases like these, the defendant will use “assumption of the risk” as a defense. Basically, they are arguing that you willingly participated in the activity, knowing that there was a possibility that you could get injured. Because of that, you aren’t owed any money for your damages.
What Damages Can Spinal Cord Injury Victims Claim?
When filing a lawsuit for a spinal cord injury, the following damages are commonly claimed:
Victims can seek compensation for any medical costs that they incurred as a result of their injuries. This includes their hospital stay, prescription medications, doctor’s appointments, and ongoing rehabilitation. Medical expenses that they will incur in the future can also be included.
If the victim was forced to take time off of work or if they no longer can earn as much as they used to, they can seek compensation for the wages that they lost, both now and in the future.
Pain and Suffering
Spinal cord injuries can cause tremendous physical and emotional pain. In cases like these, victims often pursue compensation for pain and suffering.
If someone dies as a result of injuries to their spinal cord, their family may be able to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Family members can seek compensation for the pain and suffering that their loved ones endured. They also can claim damages for the financial impact they experienced as a result of losing their loved one.
If you or one of your family members sustained a significant injury to your spine, contact us today to have your case reviewed for free by filling out our form. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys can help you pursue the damages you are owed for your injury.
How Is The Responsible Party Determined When Spinal Injuries Occur?
Legally, you can hold anyone responsible for your injuries if their negligence caused them. Most spinal injuries occur as a result of car accidents. If you are in an accident that was caused by the negligent behavior of another driver, they are legally obligated to compensate you for your damages. Falls also frequently contribute to spinal cord injuries. If the negligent actions of the property owner contributed to the accident, they could be held legally responsible. For injuries caused by violent crime, the perpetrator may face charges at both a civil and criminal level. Our qualified lawyers here at Calvin Smith Law can help figure out who is to blame for your injuries. Once the responsible party has been identified, we can then help you pursue the compensation you are owed.
What Steps Should I Take After A Spinal Cord Injury Occurs?
Many factors can contribute to spinal cord injuries. In cases we have handled in the past, some victims were injured as a result of accidents involving passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers. People working in industries that involve physical labor also commonly experience injuries like these. Victims can range from carpenters to people employed in factories. If you or a family member has sustained an injury to your spine, the first step is to get medical care. Injuries like these are usually severe, which means that you may not be capable of gathering information from witnesses yourself when the accident occurs. Fortunately, our investigators are capable of recreating accidents after-the-fact based on the available evidence.
Once you have received medical care, the next step is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Quick action is essential. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to determine exactly what happened. Avoid the temptation to settle quickly with an insurance provider. Victims often take less money than they deserve, just because they want to get on with their lives. It is important to think about the long-term damages of a spinal cord injury, however. Injuries like these are extremely expensive to recover from and can lead to lifelong problems. If you take a settlement that is lower than what you deserve, you may not be able to cover your ongoing expenses. It is much better to take your time and build a strong case so that you can get all of the money you are owed.
What About On-The-Job Spinal Cord Injuries?
Injuries to your spine that occur on the job are sometimes dealt with as workers’ compensation cases. Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to cover the medical expenses of employees who are injured while at work. In situations where another party contributed to your injury, however, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit along with a workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if you are driving a commercial vehicle and the vehicle is struck by a tractor-trailer, you could file both types of claims. If you were injured at work but the accident was caused by someone who worked for another company, you also can usually file both types of cases.
How can an Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Help my Personal Injury Case?
Typically, if you are injured in an accident, you will eventually recover. With spinal cord injuries, however, that isn’t always the case. These injuries often have life-altering impacts, forcing victims to receive costly medical care for many years after the accident occurs.
Spinal cord injuries don’t have to hold you back. There are many people out there who have suffered seemingly-debilitating injuries who are currently living incredible lives. They are doing everything from playing basketball to participating in marathons. They hold down jobs, go to school, and have families. Currently, promising research is occurring in the field of regenerative therapy. With the help of our lawyers in Atlanta, GA, you can ensure that the financial compensation you receive will allow you to pursue the best life possible, even with your injuries. Call Calvin Smith Law today at (404) 383-7552 to learn how we can help.