Whether your back injuries resulted from a fall, car accident, or some other cause, the impact can be devastating. These types of injuries often require years of treatment and the lifetime medical costs can be enormous. If your injury happened because of someone else’s negligence, an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer from Bey & Associates can help.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident or incident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation if you sustained serious injuries. This compensation can go towards your recovery and towards the overall process of moving forward with your life despite your injuries.
In order to understand the legal process behind catastrophic injury law, you’ll benefit from having some background knowledge on the accidents that cause them and the associated consequences. First, let’s take a look at some noteworthy statistics regarding spine injuries.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
The statistics on spine injuries are grim. Victims of serious injuries rarely experience a full recovery. Once this part of the body becomes damaged, there is rarely a way to reverse that damage. This fact is unfortunate; but with the help of physical therapy, some patients may regain partial feeling or usage of their limbs. Other patients can retain a mobile life with the help of motorized wheelchairs and other accessories and equipment.
According to data gathered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are approximately 17,700 new spine injuries every year in the United States. This is a significant number. As of 2018, it’s estimated that there are over 288,000 people in the U.S. who suffer from back injuries.
Since 2015, approximately 47 percent of spine injury victims have suffered from incomplete tetraplegia, 20 percent have suffered from incomplete paraplegia, 20 percent have been diagnosed with complete paraplegia, approximately 12 percent have complete tetraplegia, and less than one percent of victims since have experienced a full recovery from their accident.
Here are other significant spinal cord injury stats from the NSCISC:
- The average age at injury is 43 years old.
- Nearly 78 percent of the victims are male.
- Vehicle crashes and falls are the leading causes of injury.
- The average hospital stay after sustaining a back injury is 11 days.
- The average time spent in rehabilitation is 34 days.
Common Causes of Serious Back Injuries
There are many causes of spine injuries. Most are traumatic in nature and can lead to other debilitating conditions with lifelong consequences. These are among the most common direct causes:
- Car Crashes. Being in a serious car accident can cause severe back and neck trauma which can damage the sensitive spine. Rollover and rear-end crashes often produce the most severe spinal injuries because of the force of impact and the effect that impact has on the body.
- Falls. In hazardous conditions an accident where an individual trips or slips and falls as a result is legally referred to as a slip-and-fall accident. These can lead to serious injuries. Falling can shock the system and knock things out of place. Anytime the neck or back sustains an injury, the spinal cord is inevitably placed at risk.
- Truck Wrecks. Truck accidents are inherently more dangerous than many other vehicle accidents because of their sheer size and weight. They can lead to serious neck and back injuries—especially if the victim’s vehicle is crushed.
- Motorcycle Accidents. Motorcyclists tend to suffer from devastating injuries when they experience a collision with another vehicle or spin out of control suddenly as a result of weather conditions or road debris. Motorcycle wrecks are particularly dangerous for the rider because of the exposure to the elements. Individuals who choose to operate their bikes without helmets put themselves as at an even greater risk.
- Medical Malpractice. While most physicians are able to successfully complete procedures, a negligent doctor may make mistakes in the operating room that can lead to serious spine injuries.
- Violence. Acts of unnatural violence can lead to life-altering injuries. Shootings are the most common violent crimes that lead to spinal cord trauma.
- Workplace Accidents. Workplace machinery can seriously injure an employee if a piece of equipment malfunctions or is used negligently. It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure all equipment is safe and all employees are trained to know how to use it safely, so devastating accidents are prevented.
- Sports Accidents. Contact sports can be dangerous, especially when players are not properly protected. Football, hockey, and soccer players are particularly at risk because of the significant number of head injuries players who participate in those sports are likely to sustain.
The Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is responsible for relaying brain signals and messages throughout our bodies. It’s what allows us to do everything from walking to moving our limbs, standing, sitting, exercising, and enjoying a mobile life. This part of the body is also exceptionally fragile, as we discussed. It’s protected by our spinal column and each individual vertebra. When the spine is injured in an accident, the sensitive cord inside can easily become damaged.
The most common symptoms of a serious spine injury are related to complete or partial paralysis. After an accident like a car crash, symptoms may appear in a delayed manner. A simple backache can turn into a condition much more severe. When the spinal cord is damaged, a victim may not feel pain at all. This is why it’s vital for accident victims to receive immediate medical attention regardless of the severity of their symptoms.
These injuries are generally categorized as either complete or incomplete. Complete means that the individual has no sensation or voluntary movement of those limbs, while incomplete means that some level of functionality may still be present. Victims of incomplete spine injuries can sometimes move one side of the body but not the other or feel limbs they cannot move.
Spinal cord injuries are also typically categorized by the area of the body that is affected. Paraplegia describes the function of the lower half of the body including the legs, while tetraplegia describes the function of all four limbs including the full torso. Other terms that sometimes get used to describe injuries include paraparesis (partial paralysis of lower limbs), quadriparesis (partial paralysis of all four limbs), and quadriplegia (complete paralysis of all four limbs).
After feelings of paralysis, these are the most common symptoms associated with severe back injuries:
- Numbness or tingling in the external limbs
- Extreme pain in the neck, head, or back
- Difficulty with walking and balancing
- Unusual lumps on the head or spine
- Nerve pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty with bladder or bowel function
Treating Spine Injuries
Unfortunately, there are currently no known ways to reverse the damage associated with spinal cord injuries. Researchers are continually working on new treatments to promote the regeneration of nerve cells and improve the function of the nerves that remain after an injury. Current treatments focus on preventing further injury and improving quality of life.
When the initial injury occurs, quick medical attention is critical to minimizing the effects of the trauma. When emergency responders reach a possible back injury victim, they will immobilize the spine as quickly and gently as possible using a rigid carrying board and neck collar. Once the patient has reached the emergency room, the healthcare providers will ensure the patient can breathe normally and will continue to immobilize the neck.
After the patient is stable, a course of action can be decided. Some patients experience improvement if they’d administered a steroid medication, called Methylprednisolone, within eight hours of injury. In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove fluid or tissue that’s pressing on the spinal cord, remove bone fragments or foreign objects, fuse broken bones, or place spinal braces.
People with spine damage may benefit from the following forms of rehabilitation:
- Physical therapy
- Assistive devices like wheelchairs and leg braces
- Adaptive devices for communication
- Occupational therapy
- Bladder and bowel management
- Vocational therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Counseling on healthy diets and exercise
- Functional electrical stimulation
Determining Liability After Sustaining a Back Injury in Georgia
Any person, party, or entity whose negligent or intentional misconduct caused the damage can be held responsible for their actions and the victim’s suffering. These types of cases can often be traced back to negligence or defective products. Negligence implies an action or inaction led directly to the injury. When defective products are to blame, it’s likely a manufacturing or design flaw is the culprit.
In order to receive a financial award that can assist with all the costs associated with a devastating spine injury, you’ll need a law firm who has the knowledge required to thoroughly investigate the accident, prove the correlation between the accident and the injury, and demand justice on your behalf. We’re prepared to be that law firm for you.
Compensation After Sustaining Spinal Cord Damage
There are a number of factors that can come into play when determining how much compensation a spinal cord injury victim is owed after their accident. When evaluating the injury, medical professionals will make note of the following:
- Permanence – the expected duration associated with the injury and its consequences
- Disability – the end result of the complications, which often revolves around some form of paralysis
- Life Expectancy – how the injury jeopardizes the victim’s overall health
- Complications – predicated instances of infection or other problems the injury could cause in the future
- Mental Harm – the emotional effect the injury will have on the victim, including depression, stress, and anxiety
Once the injury is evaluated, compensation can be determined. Victims are likely to receive compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills
- Future cost of care
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium and companionship
Our personal injury lawyers will fight for your rights to ensure you receive fair compensation that aids with your recovery and adjustments.
A Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer in Atlanta Can Help
If you or someone you love suffered from a back injury that resulted from an accident that wasn’t the victim’s fault, you may feel as if there is little reason to feel hope. The costs of these types of injuries can be tremendous, and most insurance companies will offer little to no help in regard to paying for continuous care such as physical therapy or in-home services. With the help of a spinal cord injury attorney, you can get the financial assistance you need to seek the recommended treatment options.
In addition, filing a lawsuit against the guilty party can ensure that no one comes to harm again at the hands of the same individual and/or entity. Lawsuits help protect American citizens and Georgia residents from harm—today and in the future. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. We can help your family move forward.