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A spinal cord injury is one of the wounds one sustains in a high-impact accident or crush accident. It is more common than most people know. 2017 data in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation showed that traumatic spinal injury (SCI) is estimated to be 40.1 cases per million. This figure shows that there are about 12,500 SCI cases yearly. 

The prevalence and severity of a spinal cord injury case call for the expertise of Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers. By contacting an attorney, you've taken the first step to getting financial compensation for your injuries. Contact the personal injury law firm of VG Law Group if you suffer damages to your spine due to another person's negligence.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries? 

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A spinal cord injury damages any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. It often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the injury site. There are several causes of damages to the spinal cord in the United States.

Some of them are: 

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: An auto accident is theleading cause of death among people aged between 1 and 52. It could be a truck accident, motorcycle accident, or pedestrian accident. Common causes of traffic collisions are drunk driving, distracted driving, reckless driving, etc. The high-impact nature of these accidents causes severe injuries that most times affect the spine. 
  • Falls: A slip and fall injury is a common accident at home, in public places, and in work environments. A spinal cord injury in people older than 65 is often the result of a fall. According to the Mayo Clinic, falls cause about 31% of spinal cord injuries.
  • Acts of Violence: Several injuries to the spine result from violent acts against the victim. The Mayo Clinic notes that it contributes to about 13% of this injury type.
  • Sports Injuries and Recreation Injuries: Athletic activities, impact sports, and diving in shallow water cause about 10% of spinal cord injuries.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to a spinal cord injury. It causes 1 out of 4 spinal cord injuries
  • Diseases: Illnesses like cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammation of the spine can also lead to this injury. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Being able to control your limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on two things: the place of the damage along your spine and the severity of the wound to the spine. Also, a spinal cord injury can be complete or incomplete. 

With complete injuries, you lose all your motor functions, meaning you'll be unable to move body parts below the injury area. For incomplete injuries, you might be able to move some parts below the affected area. In more catastrophic situations, the injuries might affect the arm, hands, legs, and pelvic organs, leaving the accident victim with quadriplegia. 

The above is why it is crucial to get medical attention immediately after a high-impact accident. Below are some symptoms that would let you know you suffered a spinal cord injury.

  • Loss of motor function
  • Loss of feeling
  • Loss of sensation (ability to feel heat, cold, and touch)
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation resulting from damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from the nerves

How Is a Spinal Cord Injury Treated at the Accident Scene?

It is crucial to act fast when dealing with wounds like traumatic brain injury, neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries. This is because delay could aggravate the damage, and in worst-case scenarios, cause death. Hence, treatment for spinal cord injury patients starts from the accident scene. 

Typically, emergency personnel would immobilize the spine as gently as possible. Then, medics use a rigid neck collar and a rigid carrying board to transport spinal cord injury victims to the hospital. If you are not a medic, you can help by doing the following:

  • Avoid moving the injured party to prevent permanent paralysis and any other severe complication.
  • Call 911
  • Keep the injured victim in a still position
  • If there are heavy towels available, place them on both sides of the victim's neck or hold the neck to prevent movement until paramedics arrive.
  • If there is any bleeding, perform first aid to stop it.

Can Someone With a Spinal Cord Injury Walk Again? 

Spinal cord injuries have the most devastating impact on a person's life because they affect the most basic body functions. Depending on the severity of the injury, the person might be unable to walk. However, an injured person resumes some body functions by working with medical professionals and receiving treatments.

The uniqueness of spinal cord wounds makes it hard to have a definite timeline for when a person can walk again. But it is widely accepted that recovery should happen within the first six months. This is because the spinal cord experiences a high level of neuroplasticity within that time. 

If recovery doesn't happen within that time, it doesn't mean the spinal cord injury survivor cannot still recover. The central nervous system doesn't run out of neuroplasticity. So, as long as it receives stimulation through repetitive movements and the injured party keeps receiving medical care, they can recover from the accident injury.

What Treatments Are Available After a Spinal Cord Injury? 

The fact that every spinal cord injury is unique calls for specialized treatment. Below are some treatment options for this catastrophic injury.

Physical Therapy 

In physical therapy, spinal cord injury survivors start learning how to walk again. However, to make a maximum recovery, you need to pursue treatment aggressively. A spinal cord injury disrupts the transmission of messages between the brain and body, resulting in weakness and paralysis in the area below the injury. Thus, you must retrain the brain, spinal cord, and muscles to be in sync again. You do this through highly repetitive tasks and task-specific movements. 

Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Locomotor Training

It is a type of physical therapy that focuses on learning to walk again after the accident. It often involves the use of assistive equipment like weight-supporting treadmills and parallel bars. The preceding also includes braces, walkers, and crutches to reduce the joints’ pressure or provide additional stability. 

Research shows that locomotor training in individuals with this physical injury improves skills needed to walk like: 

  • Limb coordination
  • Balance 
  • Step symmetry 
  • Endurance
  • Walking speed

Electrical Stimulation

Epidural electrical stimulation is another medical treatment that helps spinal cord injury survivors. Here, a medical professional would implant an electrode array into the spinal column, sending electrical current below the injury level. The current mimics brain signals and helps stimulate muscle movement below the injury. 

Stem Cell Treatment

A stem cell treatment is one of the most promising to make you walk again after a spinal cord injury in modern medicine. It involves implanting stem cells into the spinal cord to promote healing. The goal includes:

  • Restoring neural circuitry
  • Replacing damaged cell
  • Determining the optimal timeframe for recovery
  • Stabilizing the microenvironment
  • Finding the optimal source of stem cells to use

Exoskeletons

Technological innovations made robotic exoskeletons possible. With wearable exoskeletons, you can move about by shifting your weight. The sensors in the exoskeleton perform the movement for you. This treatment is ideal for those who cannot walk, allowing them to bear weight, increase circulation to the leg, and improve self-confidence. 

What Damages Can a Spinal Cord Injury Victim Claim?

A spinal cord injury changes your life forever. Unlike other common injuries, it has a more devastating physical and mental impact. This is because you have to come to the crippling reality that you might never walk again or move some parts of your body. Also, it doesn't help that getting treatment is expensive.

All these are why we advise victims to file a spinal cord injury claim and ask for maximum compensation. So, what damages can you get when you file a personal injury claim? 

Generally, you can get two types of damages, namely: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages cover economic and non-economic damages. They include:

Medical Care

As mentioned earlier, medical bills for spinal cord injuries are pretty expensive. However, if you need continued treatment and care, your medical expenses would only pile up. This is because this injury has lifetime costs that the average person cannot pay. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation report, the average lifetime care for a 50-year-old tetraplegic is $2,596,329. 

Thus, if you fail to file a compensation claim, you might end up in financial ruin. Also, keep in mind that your health insurance coverage might not pay for the future cost of treatment. So, begin asking for compensation for damages from the person responsible for your injury as soon as you can. 

Lost Wages

Since your injuries will keep you from working, you're entitled to fair compensation for lost wages. So even if you can return to a lower-paying job, you would still get a fair settlement. 

Property Damage

Suppose you were in an automobile accident. You can get compensation for property damages. It covers car repairs and loss of personal items. 

Pain and Suffering

A spinal cord injury results in lots of physical pain and suffering because you'll feel trapped in your body. Thus, the law allows you to get compensation for the pain and suffering you endure. 

You can also get additional compensation for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Out-of-pocket expenses, etc.

Punitive Damages

If someone intentionally harmed you or was grossly negligent, like in the case of aggressive driving, they'll pay punitive damages. However, this compensation only gets awarded by a jury or judge in a personal injury lawsuit. Insurance companies do not pay punitive damages.

How Much Is a Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?

Injury victims always ask the worth of their personal injury case. But as every experienced attorney in Fort Lauderdale knows, there is no fixed dollar amount because each case gets decided on its merits. Instead, insurance companies and courts consider the injury severity, the impact on the victim's life, and the level of care they need. Thus, what a person with quadriplegia gets is different from that of a person with tetraplegia. However, the amount always runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions. 

Yes! Under the Florida Statutes of Limitations, a spinal cord injury victim has four years to commence a civil action. The law allows an additional year if the responsible party does not have insurance. If the injury becomes a wrongful death, the legal beneficiaries have two years from the date of death to commence an action.

What Will a Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Do for You? 

Suffering from a spinal injury means you'll be immobile and unable to do much for yourself. This is where our Florida Super Lawyer at VG Law Group comes in. We will investigate the accident that caused your injury obtaining police reports and other needed evidence.

While you focus on recovering, we will begin the claims process and get you the maximum compensation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don't have to worry about paying us until we win. Contact us today for a free case review with one of our personal injury attorneys.

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