Your spine serves a multitude of purposes. It supports and allows the movement of your frame. It provides a support structure for the rib cage, which protects your heart and lungs. It allows you to stand erect. But most importantly, it encases the spinal cord, an essential part of your nervous system. Even slight damage to the spinal cord is considered a traumatic injury. If the injury was caused by the negligence of another party, the injured victim should contact a spinal cord injury attorney to ensure proper compensation for damages.
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury in California, contact the Law Offices of Mickey Fine online or by calling (661) 333-3333 today to schedule a free consultation with our California spinal cord injury attorneys and learn more about your rights.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are countless causes of spinal cord injuries. However, the most common reasons why spinal cord injuries occur in the United States include:
- Motor vehicle accidents – Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. These accidents account for over 35 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year.
- Slips / trips and falls – For people over the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Across all age groups, falls cause over 25% of the spinal cord injuries nationwide.
- Violence – Nearly 15 percent of spinal cord injuries are a result of violence. This includes gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and others.
- Sports and recreational injuries – Athletic activities prove to be dangerous for many. Sports like football, hockey, and other contact sports can have a debilitating effect on the human spinal structure. Nearly 9 percent of spinal injuries occur from these types of activities.
- Disease and substance abuse – Cancer, arthritis, and other issues including inflammation have also led to spinal injuries. Alcohol also leads to nearly 1 out of 4 spinal cord injuries nationwide.
Injuries to the Spine
Your spine is comprised of numerous individual vertebra. Between these vertebrae are intervertebral discs. Boney knobs called facet joints connect the vertebra to support flexibility of the spine.
Vertebrae are hollow, allowing the spinal cord to run the length of your spine. The cord itself is protected by dura mater, a watertight sack that keeps the cord, nerve endings, and spinal cord fluid in place.
When you sustain an injury to the vertebrae or discs, such as a whiplash injury, you may experience tingling, numbness, or a temporary loss of movement or function. However, treatment for these injuries may require little more than immobilization followed by an epidural or injections of cortisone. Sadly, events such as motor vehicle accidents often result in damage to the cord from which full recovery may be impossible.
Spinal cord injuries caused by medical errors are also very common. These injuries are alarming because they would have been prevented if the medical professional had taken necessary care.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The severity of a spinal cord injury will depend on where and how the vertebrae are damaged. If the spine is damaged but not severed, some forms of rehabilitation may allow for a restoration of certain functions. However, if the spine is completely damaged in parts or the cord is severed, the consequences of the injury will likely be permanent.
Lumbar & Sacral Spine
The lumbar and sacral spine are the lower parts of the cord. Damage to this area may result in:
- Loss of function in the hips and legs
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Loss of sexual function
Damages to these lower areas are not typically as serious as those occurring higher up the spinal cord, but they may require adaptive technologies such as a wheelchair or leg braces for mobility.
The thoracic spine is the middle portion of the cord. Damage to this area may result in all of the complications that accompany lumbar and sacral injuries along with:
- Inability to control breathing muscles
With this type of spinal cord injury, adaptive technology will be necessary for mobility and may be required to assist with breathing.
Damage to the cervical spine comes with the most severe complications. An injury to this portion of the spine may result in the same complications as damage to the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral, in addition to:
- Loss of function in the arms, wrists, and hands
- Difficulties speaking
This type of spinal cord injury often necessitates home care and constant monitoring of vitals to prevent a loss of life.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
While many spinal cord injuries produce immediate symptoms, it is possible for there to be a delay between injury and loss of function. This makes it particularly important that you seek medical assistance following any accident in which the spine may have been impacted. If caught before symptoms occur, SCI may be treatable with traction.
Immediately following an accident, symptoms of spinal cord injury that indicate an emergency include:
- Numbness or a loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, or toes
- Significant back pain
- Pressure in the back, neck, or head
- Difficulties balancing, standing, or walking
- Breathing difficulties
Symptoms that may be delayed include:
- Loss of sensation, including feeling heat and cold
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bowel or bladder control issues
- Muscle spasticity
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Chronic back pain or stinging sensations along the spinal cord
- Expelling clear fluids from the lungs
These symptoms may take time to develop, but if they occur following an accident, they should be brought to the attention of a trusted medical professional immediately.
Recovery from Spinal Cord Injuries
Recovery from spinal cord injury often relies on swift intervention. If you have suffered a back injury due to the carelessness of another person you should seek legal assistance. Mickey Fine is an experience spinal cord injury attorney and can help you help you get the compensation you will need to make the best recovery possible.
When you suffer a spinal cord injury, complete recovery may be impossible. Depending on the level of your spinal cord injury, rehabilitation may be more like retraining as you learn to use adaptive technologies, accommodate to new home modifications, and learn to live with a permanent loss of function. Even when this is not the case, you need an experienced California injury attorney on your side immediately following your accident to ensure you are provided the full compensation you deserve.
Even in cases where complete spinal cord injury prevents recovery, a team of medical experts will be needed to ensure the most effective rehabilitation. This may include:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Pain specialists
The combined costs associated with services from these professionals can be staggering – and still only comprise a small portion of the economic and noneconomic damages caused by SCI.
In addition to medical expenses, victims of spinal cord injury may be unable to work, incur costs for home modifications, and require round the clock assistive care. California injury attorney Mickey Fine is prepared to take your case as far as needed to fight for fair compensation and help ensure these and all related expenses and damages are covered in full.
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries in Bakersfield
A spinal cord injury is serious, and the compensation for these types of cases is often larger due to the expenses victims of spinal cord injury endure. The damages one could be compensated for in a spinal cord injury claim include but are not limited to the following:
Loss of Earnings Capacity
This is one of the first damages that is considered in a spinal cord injury claim. The help of a vocational expert may be useful in determining how much of your expected lifetime wage you will lose due to your spinal cord injury. Some people who suffer spinal cord injuries may still be able to work; however, many are not able to keep the type of jobs they are used to after their injury. This is something you could be compensated for.
The Cost of Life Care
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries may need various types of home care and service for the rest of their life. This could mean hiring a full-time housekeeper, attendant or nurse to help them perform tasks that they cannot do themselves. A life care planner may assist in evaluating how much these services may cost for the rest of your life. Family members are often a primary caretaker of an individual with a spinal cord injury; however, it’s often too much for just one person to handle. A life care planner will take this into account when evaluating a spinal cord injury case.
Pain and Suffering
The pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of your life may also be taken into consideration during your spinal cord injury claim. With the help of an expert examination and economic studies that demonstrate how your life has been affected, you may be compensated for your pain and suffering.
Medical procedures for a spinal cord injury can be very expensive. Ambulance rides, emergency room stays, surgical procedures, and physical therapy sessions can all rack up high costs that your insurance may not be able to cover. Compensation is available for many of these expenses based on the circumstances of your particular case.
Mickey Fine Can Help You After a Spinal Cord Injury
If you are in need of a California spinal cord injury attorney, please call (661) 333-3333 today. Mickey Fine has over 25 years of experience helping victims of SCI get justice. It costs nothing to meet with Mickey Fine to discuss your case, and to help you better understand your rights, your options, and the best way to get the total compensation you are due.