Spinal Cord Injury in Auto Accidents
Can I File a Claim for Spinal Cord Injury After an Auto Accident?
North Carolina Spine Injury Attorneys Explain Impact of Spinal Cord Damage
According to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), motor vehicle accidents accounted for 39.08 percent of spinal cord injuries (SCI) since between 2005 and 2015; this makes vehicle wrecks the leading cause of spine injuries by a sizable margin. Depending on the location and severity of the damage, a spinal cord injury can cause partial or complete paralysis. Victims may be unable to walk, move their arms, eat, speak or even breathe on their own. Therefore, you may require adaptive equipment, ongoing therapies and possibly around-the-clock care. If someone else caused your injury in a car crash, then you may be able to recover for these losses by filing a vehicle accident claim.
If you have questions about a car accident claim, then the spine injury attorneys at Riddle & Brantley can answer them in a free initial consultation. It is completely free to find out if you have a case. If you do have grounds for a claim, then we can fight for you with no upfront costs. No amount of money can undo a serious spinal cord injury. However, the compensation from a spine injury lawsuit can help provide for your needs, both past and future.
The most important thing to do after a spinal cord injury is to get immediate medical attention and care from the best medical facility possible. In North Carolina, we are fortunate to have amazing hospitals that can provide such care. These medical facilities include UNC Chapel Hill, Vidant in Greenville (associated with East Carolina University), Duke in Durham, Bowman Gray in Winston-Salem (associated with Wake Forest University), and many other wonderful medical hospitals. The east coast also has the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia which has national and international recognition for treatment of severe spinal injuries.
What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury in a Car Crash?
The spinal column contains 31 vertebrae which protect and house the spinal cord. SCIs occur when the spinal column or the nerves at the base of the spine suffer damage.
The most common types of SCI in North Carolina auto accidents include spinal bruises, lacerations, and acute spinal pressure. These usually happen in more severe types of car accidents, including:
- Rollover accidents. In a rollover, a motorist’s neck and/or spine may be compressed. This is a particular risk when the roof buckles under the weight of the vehicle.
- Head-on collisions. The force of a head-on collision may be sufficient to cause trauma to the spine. Broken vertebrae may cause damage to the nerves of the spinal cord, resulting in permanent paralysis.
- Truck accidents. The superior size and weight of a truck can cause multiple severe injuries to motorists in other vehicles.
- Motorcycle crashes. Depending on the circumstances, a motorcyclist may sustain severe spine injuries from the initial impact with a vehicle. Alternatively, a spine injury may result if a motorcyclist is thrown from his or her bike.
- Pedestrian accidents. Trauma from a pedestrian accident may result in permanent spinal cord damage as well as brain injury and other catastrophic damage.
These types of accidents tend to cause the most severe spinal cord injuries. However, particular auto malfunctions may also cause serious damage, such as an SCI. These include:
- Failed seatbelts
- Collapsing roofs
- Failed power windows
- Separating tire treads
- Failed seat backs
- Suspension defects
According to the NSCISC, the first year of living with paralysis from a spine injury can cost victims more than $1 million. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries to the spine due to someone else’s negligence, then you could be eligible for compensation for the trauma, medical bills and other costs you face.
What Are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Despite commonly held beliefs, spinal cord injuries do not necessarily lead to paralysis in every case. A spinal cord injury may be either complete or incomplete. In cases of complete spinal cord injury, the victim will have no feeling or movement below the injury site. In incomplete spinal cord injury cases, the victim will have some sensation and ability to move. Sometimes, incomplete SCIs can lead to permanent paralysis, but in others, the effects may only be temporary.
Besides these two general classifications, there are several types of spinal cord injuries, including:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome: complete paralysis and loss of sensation below the site of injury.
- Central Cord Syndrome: weakened motor skills in the arms and a partial loss of sensation below the site of injury; often accompanied by incontinence.
- Posterior Cord Syndrome: loss of perception of the placement and location of one’s body parts (“proprioception”); very rare.
- Brown-Séquard Syndrome: loss of sensation, motor function, vibration sense and proprioception on the same side of the body as the spinal injury; also known as crossed hemiplegia.
- Cauda Equina Syndrome: loss of function in the lumbar region due to a lesion on the cauda equina, the bundle of nerves that control sensation in that area.
- Individual nerve trauma: loss of function in the body part controlled by the damaged nerve.
- Spinal contusion: a bruise to the spinal area; usually causes partial or complete paralysis and loss of function for a period of one to two days.
- Paraplegia: complete, permanent paralysis and loss of sensation in the lower half of the body, as well.
- Quadriplegia/Tetraplegia: complete, permanent paralysis as well as loss of sensation in all limbs and the torso.
Central cord syndrome (CCS) is the most common form of incomplete SCI. Unfortunately, complete spinal cord injuries always result in either paraplegia or quadriplegia.
How Can a Spine Injury Lawyer Help?
Filing a spinal cord injury claim can be expensive. Additionally, negotiating with insurance companies or defense lawyers can take considerable time and energy. However, our North Carolina car accident attorneys have the resources necessary to help victims of spinal cord injury. This usually includes hiring investigators, working with experts and using our knowledge of relevant case law. If you choose to hire a spinal cord injury lawyer, then he or she will be able to:
- Evaluate the crash/accident scene
- Interview witnesses
- Review footage from traffic cameras
- Review insurance reports
- Consult experts such as accident reconstruction professionals
The expertise and resources of a skilled North Carolina law firm can be invaluable in your pursuit of justice. If you choose to hire an attorney, then you can first take advantage of a free initial consultation where you can ask general questions about your case.
Filing a Spine Injury Case? Contact Our North Carolina Auto Accident Law Firm
Spinal cord injuries are traumatic and costly. If you have suffered one of these tragic injuries, then you deserve justice. Therefore, families affected by cases of SCI that were caused by someone else’s negligent acts need professional legal representation.
If you have a spinal cord injury case in North Carolina, then the spine injury lawyers at Riddle & Brantley are proud to offer you legal guidance. If we accept your case, then there is no cost to you unless we obtain a favorable verdict or settlement for your claim. With four offices located throughout the Triangle, the Inner Banks and Southeast Coast, we accept clients in the following areas:
- New Bern
- Communities throughout the area
Find out if you have a claim for your spinal cord injury case today. Call (800) 525-7111 or contact us online to get started.