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Spinal cord injuries often have a profound impact on your quality of life. The spinal cord is the messenger system from your brain to the rest of your body. A disruption in this communication can result in complete or incomplete paralysis. Our lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter have helped many victims with catastrophic injuries collect compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, please contact our personal injury lawyers in Orlando as soon as possible at (407) 712-7300 for a FREE case evaluation. We serve clients in Orlando, Florida and nationwide.
Auto accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Compression, bruising, and lacerations of the spine are common causes of spinal cord injuries in car accidents. Roof crush, a common occurrence in rollover accidents, can cause fracture or bursting of the vertebrae, damaging the spinal cord. Seat belt malfunctions can result in spinal cord injuries by releasing and providing no protection, as if you were not wearing the belt at all, or by creating damaging forces of their own. However, spinal cord injuries can also be caused by slip and fall accidents or any incident that has the potential to cause severe harm.
Symptoms & Results of Spinal Cord Injuries
The initial signs of a spinal cord injury involve loss of feeling, function or movement in a portion or all of your body. Spinal cord injuries fall into two categories: Complete, meaning there is no functioning below the level of injury, or incomplete, meaning there is some feeling and/or movement below the injury. They are typically permanent impairments, though some people with an incomplete spinal cord injury may make a full recovery.
Spinal cord injuries can create a broad range of problems that go beyond the loss of movement and feeling and promote secondary health issues. Results of spinal cord injuries can include:
- Loss of muscle control
- Chronic pain in unaffected areas of the body
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Muscle spasms
- Bed sores
- Sexual dysfunction
Spinal cord injuries often result in the need for 24-hour care. The lifetime medical expenses alone for a person with spinal cord injuries can be in the millions.
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are life altering, and in most cases permanent. For many, they mean a lifetime of expensive medical bills and permanent loss of income. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future loss of income
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Long-term care
Our lawyers are available to answer any spinal cord injury questions you may have and are prepared to fight for you and the reparations you’re owed.
Other Injuries Associated with the Spinal Cord
Spinal cord injuries are often linked to neck and back injuries, but these wounds are far less serious than spinal cord damage. A herniated disc and whiplash are the most common injuries associated with the spinal cord.
The discs are like shock absorbers tucked in between each of the vertebrae in the spinal column. They are rounded with an external shell and a liquid middle. They are often compared to jelly donuts. When the disc is injured from trauma such as a car accident, the jelly center can leak from the disc. If the disc presses into the spinal column and impacts a nerve, it can radiate extreme pain throughout the entire body. Some of the symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Feeling of numbness or weakness in one or both of your legs
- Intermittent pain with periods of pain increasing over time
- Loss of mobility, strength and feeling in legs and feet
- Loss of bowel, bladder and/or sexual functions
The herniation of the disc can shrink over time and patients may feel relief within six months. But other patients may have to live with a lifetime of chronic pain. Various treatments can offer permanent or temporary relief. Nonsurgical options include pain medications, physical therapy, cold and/or heat therapy, among others.
Whiplash occurs when your head is violently jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits. The ligaments and muscles supporting the neck and spine can tear or severely stretch, resulting in a whiplash. This injury can be temporary or permanent, lasting a few days or a lifetime.
The severity of a whiplash depends on whether or not you were properly restrained, how you were seated in the car and the force of the impact. If you were rear-ended by a vehicle at 5 miles per hour or less, your chances of injury are minimal. However, most rear end accidents happen at speeds of 6 to 12 miles per hour.
Early symptoms may take two hours to two days to show up. Almost half of whiplash victims report continued suffering for up to two years after the accident. Seventy percent of whiplash victims suffer headaches on the side of their head, are in constant pain all over or experience intermittent throbbing pain. Neck and shoulder pain are also common symptoms. Muscle tears can cause tingling, burning or prickling pain from muscle tears. Severe disc damage results in sharp pain in other areas of the body, including the arms, hands and fingers.
Other symptoms of whiplash include:
- Lower back pain and stiffness
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ringing ears
Questions About Spinal Cord Injuries
What are some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries?
According to the non-profit Shepherd Center, the most common cause of spinal injuries in recent years were:
- Motor vehicle accidents (38 percent)
- Falls (30.5 percent)
- Violence, mostly from gunshot wounds (13.5 percent)
- Sports injury (9 percent)
- Medical or surgical complications (5 percent)
- Miscellaneous (4 percent)
Compensation may be available anytime an injury is caused by someone else's negligence. Auto accidents are one of the biggest sources of this type of trauma. Most accidents can be traced back to someone else's carelessness. Crashes involving semi-trucks are especially likely to cause a severe injury like SCI. The large size and extreme weight of a tractor-trailer means it can easily cause devastation when involved in a wreck.
Is it important to keep the victim of a possible spine injury immobilized at the scene?
In most cases, yes, further injury can be caused if the victim's spine and neck are twisted, jolted or moved in any way. You should talk to the victim but leave them in their current position until emergency responders arrive. Having said that, if the danger of not moving them is greater, then you may want to consider moving them carefully out of traffic, away from a pending explosion or other life-threatening, immediate hazards.
Will I regain function?
Your doctor is best qualified to discuss this with you. It depends on the severity and nature of the spine injury, and where exactly it occurred along the spine or neck. If the injury was caused by someone else's carelessness, then you may be able to recover monetary compensation, which would help pay for the treatments and devices necessary to regain some degree of function.
Do I have a case?
The only way to know for sure is to consult our attorneys. We provide a complimentary case evaluation so you can find out.
How can I help my case?
Getting medical care is the most important thing you can do. Make sure you are getting care and treatment for the injury. Then, call us. If we think you have a case, we let you know what documentation, photos, testimony and details could be important for us to know. To help your case, talk to our attorneys before talking to insurance companies or other parties. We'll make sure you know what to do to protect your case and improve your chances at recovering compensation.
What types of things might I be compensated for?
When compensation is successfully obtained, it may be awarded as a way of compensating you for:
- Medical expenses, present and future
- Lost wages
- Cost of purchasing assistive equipment and devices
- Cost of in-home care and assistance
- Pain and suffering
Each case is different. That's why we want to get to know you first and foremost. We need to understand each and every way the injury has impacted you so that we can knowledgeably pursue every dollar you need and deserve.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Orlando
Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter has extensive experience pursuing compensation on behalf of clients who suffered a wide range of injuries including spinal cord injuries, herniated discs and whiplash. We will evaluate your claim for free and represent you on a contingency-fee basis, which means we do not get paid any attorney fees unless you recover on your claim.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident that left you with a spinal cord injury or other severe injury, please contact our attorneys in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300 to discuss your potential claim. We serve clients nationwide.