Spinal Cord Injuries can be caused by a variety of circumstances, such as car accidents and truck accidents and almost always present a variety of complications. Just like the brain, the spinal cord cannot regrow new cells. Therefore, victims of spinal cord injuries are often left to deal with lifelong disabilities, including paralysis from the neck down (quadriplegia) or paralysis from the waist down (paraplegia).
Needless to say, a spinal cord injury is physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. A spinal cord injury victim may be entitled to damages for:
- Emotional Distress
- Property loss
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by damage to any part of a person’s spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. These injuries are catastrophic and can easily cause permanent changes in strength, tactile sensation, and other crucial bodily functions.
The severity of a spinal cord injury is referred to as ‘the completeness’ and can be classified as either complete or incomplete:-
- Complete spinal cord injury occurs when all feeling and all ability to control movement is lost below the spinal cord injury.
- Incomplete spinal cord injury occurs when some motor or sensory function is retained below the affected area.
Spinal cord injuries may result in one or more of the following symptoms:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
- Difficulty breathing, coughing, or lung secretions
- Pain or intense stinging caused by nerve damage
- Changes in sexual functioning, sexual sensitivity, or fertility
- Loss of/or alteration in the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
- Difficulty breathing immediately after an injury
- Extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back
- Weakness, lack of coordination, or paralysis in any part of the body
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes
An injury to the spinal cord can vary significantly in symptoms and severity. Sometimes a spinal cord is severed completely or to the point that it completely cuts off all sensation to the nerves below that area of a victim’s body.
Typical spinal cord injuries include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated discs
- Fractured coccyx
- Rotator cuff tears
- Fractured vertebrae
- Degenerative disc disease
- Vertical compression fractures
Spinal cord injuries are particularly delicate because they can also affect other parts of the body. Depending on the location and severity of an injury, a victim may suffer loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and paralysis.
Spinal cord injuries can easily lead to paralysis, depending on the severity. Paralysis is the loss of ability to move part or most of the body.
There are several types of paralysis:
- Monoplegia – Affects one limb or region of the body.
- Paraplegia – Can be caused due to damage to the brain, spinal cord, or both. Paraplegics suffer with movement below the waist and can lose a significant amount of sensation.
- Hemiplegia – Affects one side of the brain and can progressively get worse over time. If one sustains hemiplegia, the victim can completely lose control and/or sensation of one side of the body.
- Diplegia – Paralysis that affects symmetrical parts of the body. A few examples of diplegia include both legs or both arms; however, it is possible for the severity on one side of the body to vary in comparison to the other.
- Quadriplegia – Affects one’s brain or spinal cord, which results in the ability to receive or process signals for one to function. Believe it or not, many quadriplegics have healthy legs and arms; however, if they do not have the ability to send or receive signals, they lose muscle control or are extremely weak.
In order to successfully pursue a spinal cord injury claim, a victim must prove that:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
- The defendant failed to comply with this duty of care
- The defendant’s failure to comply with their duty of care was the significant factor that caused a spinal cord victim’s injuries
Many spinal cord injury victims will require treatment, costly surgeries, and prescription medications. A spinal cord injury victim may be able to recover damages for their medical bills, including:
- Clinical visits
- Hospital visits
- Mobility devices
- Physical therapy
- Home health care
- Rehab centre visits
- Fertility treatment
A spinal cord injury victim is likely to miss work for a significant amount of time while recuperating. In order to compensate a victim for the loss of income they would have reasonably expected to earn, they will likely recover the following damages for lost wages:
- Lost wages/salary
- Lost bonuses
A permanent injury may prevent someone from ever working again. A permanently disabled spinal cord injury victim sue may also pursue damages for the following loss of future earnings:
- Loss of anticipated bonuses
- Loss of anticipated salary/wages
- Loss of anticipated opportunities for advancement