Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can terrify their victims, who often go on to face long-term medical issues that may never resolve—or even disabilities that can prevent them from living independently. It is not surprising, therefore, that many SCI victims have several questions when they first meet with a lawyer. In the material below, we’ve tried to answer several of the questions that we consistently hear from SCI victims. For answers to specific questions, or simply to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer, send us an email or call our office today.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Unfortunately, many victims are unclear about what exactly their injury entails. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. It runs from the base of the skull, through the spinal column, and ends in your lower back. Any trauma that damages the spinal cord can result in a disruption in the communication between the brain and the parts of the body below the injury, leading to serious problems.
What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?
Damage to the spinal cord can take place in many ways and most often results from a traumatic accident or incident. Some common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Sports injuries
- Physical assaults
If any such incident occurs and you suffered a blow to part of the spine, get emergency medical assistance.
What Is the Difference Between an Incomplete and Complete Spinal Cord Injury?
Doctors divide spinal cord injuries into two broad categories: complete and incomplete. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord sustains partial damage, and some signals can still pass between the brain and the rest of the body. In incomplete spinal cord injuries, victims often experience issues like pain, sensations of pins and needles, and lost range of motion below the injury site. In a complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, communication between the brain and the body is completely impaired, resulting in paralysis below the site of the injury.
The Costs of a Spinal Injury
Spinal injuries are among some of the most serious injuries to treat, especially considering that some spinal cord injury victims require lifelong treatments. First, anyone suspected of injuring the spine should immediately seek help from a medical professional—often at the scene of the accident. Spinal cord injuries need fast stabilization to minimize the impact of the injury—emergency trauma care is usually necessary. An ambulance ride and emergency treatment alone can cost thousands of dollars.
In addition, doctors will often need to monitor spinal cord injury victims for improvements or complications for a period of time, during which they must remain hospitalized. Even relatively minor spinal cord injuries will usually require time spent in the hospital, which can cause thousands of dollars a day. Then, a patient will often require long periods of rehabilitative therapy to see how much movement—if any—they can regain.
Some people will have to live with the effects of a spinal cord injury their entire lives. This can require extensive medical equipment, treatments, home health care, and more. Some reported cost estimates of living with a long-term spinal cord injury follow:
- For patients with any motor function impairment – $1,578,274
- For patients who are paraplegic – $2,310,104
- For patients with low tetraplegia – $3,451,781
- For patients with high tetraplegia – $4,724,181
Consider all past and future treatments when determining the extent of your spinal cord injury costs. Your accident injury attorney can help with that calculation.
Will I Recover Compensation for My Spinal Cord Injury?
Under South Carolina law, people are typically entitled to compensation for their losses when the negligence of others caused their injuries. Generally speaking, negligence refers to a person’s failure to use the degree of care that a person in the same or similar circumstances would ordinarily use. Speeding, drunk driving, failing to adequately maintain a commercial property, or careless swimming pool maintenance constitute some common real-world examples of negligent conduct.
Do Spinal Cord Injury Victims Need to Retain an Attorney?
Spinal cord injury victims often wonder whether they need to retain a lawyer to represent them. While victims are perfectly free to represent themselves, many spinal cord injury cases involve a lifetime of economic and non-economic losses, making them extremely high-value—and hotly contested. As a result, anyone who has sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident should retain an experienced lawyer as soon as possible—to accurately calculate the expenses your injury will cause you, then to fight for them.
Will My Case Go to Court?
The last thing that someone dealing with a spinal injury wants to do is deal with an extended legal battle or get dragged into court repeatedly. The good news is that most personal injury cases do not see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, the insurance process or out-of-court negotiations resolve most claims.
However, at times the extensive losses due to spinal cord injuries make a trial necessary to obtain the full amount of compensation that you deserve. You need a law firm on your side that will never try to push you to accept an insufficient offer to avoid a trial. You need a litigator who is ready to protect your rights in court if needed.
Call the Hughey Law Firm Today to Speak to a Charleston Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
People who have sustained spinal cord injuries should obtain legal representation as soon as possible. The lawyers of the Hughey Law Firm understand the how important it is for spinal cord injury victims to recover compensation, and we know how to maximize personal injury settlements or awards. To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney, call our office today at (843) 881-8644 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.