Spinal cord injuries are some of the most devastating outcomes of car accidents. These injuries can turn your life upside-down, forcing you to rely on extensive, costly medical and assistive care. According to statistics from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), about 17,730 new spinal cord injuries are reported annually—and roughly half of them are sustained in car or motorcycle crashes. You may be eligible for compensation if you or your family member suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) reported that Atlanta recorded over 35,000 vehicle collisions in 2021 alone, with nearly one-third causing serious back injuries. With these staggering numbers, it’s important to work with experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys to pursue your case regarding spinal injuries emanating from a car crash that wasn’t your fault.
Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can vary dramatically by severity, type, and location. Understanding what type of spinal injury you sustained can help you better comprehend what it takes to get the proper compensation. Common spinal cord injuries include:
- Thoracic spinal cord injury: Any trauma to the spine between thoracic vertebra S1 and S12 can cause paralysis or weakness in the legs (paraplegia). This can lead to loss of sensation, sexual function, and bladder and bowel control.
- Lumbar spinal cord injury: Paraplegia can occur when the spinal cord sustains serious damage between the lumbar vertebra S1 and S5. Some car crash victims diagnosed with lumbar spinal injury may suffer loss of sensation, sexual dysfunction, and impaired bowel and bladder control.
- Cervical spinal cord injury: These injuries occur when there is damage to the spine between cervical vertebra S1 and S8. This may cause paralysis or weakness in the legs and arms, resulting in tetraplegia or quadriplegia. And because this portion of the spine controls nerve signals to the back of the head, neck, arms, hands, diaphragm, and shoulders, victims with these injuries may need a stabilizing device for their neck. They may also suffer from loss of bowel and bladder control, respiratory issues, and sexual dysfunction.
- Sacral spinal cord injury: The sacral controls nerve signals to the lower legs, thighs, feet, and genitals. Victims who suffer trauma to their sacral vertebrae S1 and S5 may experience leg and hip paralysis, sexual dysfunction, and loss of bowel and bladder function.
Additionally, spinal cord injuries may be classified as “incomplete” or “complete.” Incomplete spinal cord injuries leave some nerves capable of relaying messages, although the sensation may be faint. On the other hand, complete spinal cord injuries result in a complete lack of motor and sensory function below the area of the injury.
Evidence to Support Spinal Injury Claim
The only way to get compensation for your spinal injury following a car accident is to gather as much evidence as possible. Some insurance companies will try to argue that you had a pre-existing condition long before the accident. Some of the steps that could strengthen your case include:
- Look for any eyewitnesses and take their contacts to help your attorney build a case
- Photograph the accident scene whenever possible
- Report the accident to the police and have them document the types of injuries you suffered
- Get immediate medical treatment, and if spinal injury is suspected, avoid moving until the ambulance arrives
- Take down details of any other vehicle involved in the accident, including their insurance details
- Track all medical expenses you incur in the course of your treatment
Potential Compensation for Spinal Injuries
According to the NSCISC, approximately 249,000 to 363,000 Americans have serious spinal cord injuries. The medical bills associated with spinal cord injuries are astronomical and often pile up throughout the victim’s lifetime.
Victims who suffer spinal cord injuries in a car accident caused by someone else may be eligible for compensation for the following damages:
- Property damages
- All related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
Consult an Experienced Attorney About Your Spinal Injury Case
If you were diagnosed with a spinal injury after a car crash, don’t wait too long to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to inquire about your legal rights and options. A skilled attorney can investigate your case and fight for you to ensure you receive the fair compensation you deserve. Also, your diagnosis and prognosis following a gruesome car accident can change during treatment. Be sure to seek immediate medical evaluation and work hand in hand with your attorney to help you obtain maximum compensation.