Spinal cord injuries can have devastating consequences which may include different kinds of paralysis. The resulting decreased quality of life can compound the victim’s physical limitations with emotional and mental problems. If you or a loved one were the victim of a spinal cord injury from a car accident, you deserve to know your legal rights. The Maguire Law Firm’s auto accident attorneys in Myrtle Beach are ready to serve you.
How Do the Forces of a Crash Impact the Spine?
Car accidents exert force on various parts of the human body. The force does not have to be severe or violent to cause injury to the spine. A victim can suffer damage that may affect the vertebrae, ligaments, discs, and the spinal cord itself.
Various factors can affect whether and to what degree a victim may experience spinal cord injury, including:
- The position of the victim’s head, e.g. whether it was turned
- The seat position in the vehicle
- The victim’s height, weight, and even gender
- Whether the victim suffered from pre-existing medical conditions such as degenerative disc disease that made the spine more susceptible to trauma
What Are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal injuries from car accidents are usually categorized in one of two ways:
- Incomplete: The spinal cord will still be able to transmit some messages to and from the brain. The victim will retain some sensory perception and may even have control of the muscles below the point of the injury.
- Complete: A complete spinal cord injury means there is no nerve communication. All feeling and ability to control movement below the point of injury will be lost.
Specific injuries may include:
- Herniated or ruptured discs: The accident can cause the spinal discs between the vertebrae to bulge, or herniate, which presses on the nerve roots in the spinal column. If the discs rupture, the victim may experience radiating pain, numbness, weakness, and other symptoms.
- Spinal stenosis: This condition is marked by a narrowing of the spinal canal that occurs as the person grows older. Although the car accident itself doesn’t cause spinal stenosis, it can cause an asymptomatic case to become symptomatic and intensify tissue degeneration.
- Compression and vertebrae fractures: A compression fracture is a tiny crack in the bone that can cause persistent pain, breathing problems, and permanent damage to the spinal cord. The vertebrae themselves may fracture and lead to extreme pain and other symptoms.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae to be put out of place and may be the result of a fracture. Spondylolisthesis places pressure on the spinal canal or nerves and can cause weakness, numbness, and problems with motor skills.
Categories of Paralysis Related to Spinal Injuries
Paralysis is perhaps the most serious and life-changing consequence of a spinal injury. There are two different types of paralysis:
- Quadriplegia: Also known as tetraplegia, this describes paralysis in all four limbs and most of the body. It is often the result of spinal cord injury in the neck area.
- Paraplegia: A type of paralysis that affects the legs and lower body.
What Types of Compensation Can the Victim Claim?
Anyone who suffers a spinal cord injury from a car accident will experience numerous related personal problems. Many of these are medical in nature, but these are by no means the only issues victims have. A spinal cord injury can affect one’s ability to earn a living and provide for his or her family. It can also decrease one’s quality of life and cause harm to mental and emotional health.
The party or parties at fault for the accident can be ordered to pay compensation, known as damages, to account for these losses. Damages may include:
- Medical costs such as hospitalization, surgery, procedures like trigger point injections, follow-up appointments, prescription medications, and adaptive medical and mobility equipment
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation
- Long-term personal care expenses which can include home health and domestic services
- Lost earnings due to time missed from work because of hospitalization, medical appointments, and other accident-related events
- Lost earning capacity which occurs when a person’s injuries interfere with his or her ability to work at the same productivity level as before the accident
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Mental health counseling and therapy
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Loss of consortium, a category of damages which provides compensation to the victim’s spouse due to loss of companionship and intimate relations
How Can an Attorney Help?
Hiring an experienced spinal cord injury attorney is essential to seeking the compensation a victim needs to cover his or her damages. When a client retains our firm, we get started by investigating the causes of the accident that point to negligence of the party or parties involved.
Various individuals and entities such as the car’s driver, manufacturer, and even governmental units can be held liable depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Once we identify who may be named as a defendant, we work on trying to reach an out-of-court resolution possible. This involves negotiating with each at-fault party’s insurance company to settle the case in an amount that fairly compensates the victim. We also rely on the input of expert witnesses who can testify to such complex matters as how the accident took place and the future damages that a victim can reasonably be expected to incur.
If a settlement can be reached, we will work towards that. But we aren’t afraid to take your case to a jury if necessary.
Legal Help for Myrtle Beach Spinal Cord Injury Victims
Spinal injuries from car accidents can change a person’s life in an instant. The Maguire Law Firm here to help the victim explore every legal option for winning the damages needed to cover expenses and losses stemming from the accident. Hire Maguire today to begin your case. Call 843-894-3502 or contact us online for your consultation.