Orange County Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Spinal cord injury (SCI) often occurs when a traumatic event results in damage to cells within the spinal cord. Spinal cord injury also occurs when nerve tracts are severed that relay signals up and down the spinal cord. Common types of spinal cord injuries include compression (which is caused by pressure on the spinal cord) and contusions (which are bruising of the spinal cord).
How Common Are Spinal Cord Injuries?
According to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are an estimated 288,000 people living with disabilities from spinal cord injuries. The NSCISC also says that there are approximately 17,700 new spinal cord injury cases each year in this country.
What Are The Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
The NSCISC updates there are figures every year. For the latest reporting year, the following were the top causes the spinal cord injuries in the United States:
- motor vehicle accidents (38.3%)
- slip and falls (31.6%)
- violence (13.8%)
- sports and recreation incidents (8.2%)
- medical or surgical mistakes (4.6%)
- other (3.5%)
Many of these incidents are caused by the careless or negligent actions of other people. Incidents such as car accidents, workplace accidents, and medical mistakes can leave victims with permanent paralysis and lifelong struggles.
What Are The Various Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are various levels of paralysis due to spinal cord injuries. According to the NSCISC, the following is a breakdown of four levels of injury:
- incomplete tetraplegia – 47.2%
- incomplete paraplegia – 20.4%
- complete paraplegia – 20.2%
- complete tetraplegia – 11.5%
Quadriplegia (also known as Tetraplegia) generally describes the condition of a person with a spinal cord injury that is at a level from C1 to T1. This type of injury often results in a loss of feeling and/or movement in the head, shoulder, neck, arm and/or upper chest. Spinal cord injury that results in quadriplegia has a 30 percent average return rate to work.
Paraplegia is the general term describing the condition of a person who has lost feeling and/or is not able to move the lower parts of his/her body. The body parts that may be affected are the chest, hips, stomach, legs, and feet. A victim of paraplegia has a level of injury from T2 to S5. Both forms of spinal cord injury are sometimes caused by a direct result of personal injury. Spinal cord injury that results in paraplegia has a 40 percent average return rate to work.
Spinal cord injury affects predominantly young adults with 55 percent of spinal cord injury sufferers being between the age of 16-30 years of age. Approximately 80 percent of spinal cord injury victims are male and the average age of a spinal cord injury is 32.1.
Spinal cord injury is most often caused by car accidents, violence, falls and sports-related accidents. In each of these instances, you may be entitled to compensation for the spinal cord injury. We encourage you to consult with an experienced Orange County spinal cord injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
How does a spinal cord injury affect a person’s life?
Unfortunately, a spinal cord injury can affect all aspects of a person’s life. As we mentioned above, there are varying levels of severity for spinal cord injuries. Some people who sustain a spinal cord injury end up with temporary disabilities and make a recovery. However, there are times when a person will remain partially or totally paralyzed for the remainder of their lives after an injury. This can affect their ability to work and participate in the daily activities they were accustomed to doing before the injury occurred.
Some of the most common complications the victims of spinal cord injuries encounter include the following:
- A loss of bladder or bowel control
- A loss of skin sensation
- Circulatory control problems (including low blood pressure, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, high blood pressure)
- Respiratory problems if abdominal and chest muscles are affected
- Muscle tone issues (including uncontrolled tightening or motion in the muscles as well as soft and limp muscles)
- Pain in muscles and joints
The lifestyle changes that a person with a spinal cord injury endures can affect their overall. Due to limited mobility, spinal cord injury victims may lead a more sedentary life, placing them at higher risk of other serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases. Sexual function can also be affected by a spinal cord injury.
Spinal cord injury victims often suffer from significant emotional and psychological issues following their injury. This can include feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and more. Victims of spinal cord injuries may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What is The True Cost of Spinal Cord Injuries for Victims?
When analyzing the true costs of a spinal cord injury, we have to look at various factors. The NSCISC Says that the cost of first-year medical expenses for a spinal cord injury can range from $359,000 to over $1.1 million, with the range depending on the level of a person’s injury. They say that each follow-up year of medical costs can range from $43,000 to $191,000.
However, these medical costs do not show a complete picture of what a victim in their family has to pay due to these injuries. What is not factored in are the various “hidden costs” associated with spinal cord injuries. This can include:
- the cost of any necessary home or vehicle modifications to improve a person’s mobility
- travel expenses to and from doctor’s offices or visits with spinal cord specialists
- lost income a person may experience if they are unable to work after an injury
- lost income of a family member who asked to become a caregiver to the injured person
Victims of spinal cord injuries often suffer from immense emotional and psychological damages. This is a complete lifestyle change, and the adjustment can be nearly unbearable. Non-monetary expenses in these cases can include pain and suffering damages as well as a loss of consortium for a victim’s spouse.
Re-hospitalization due to a spinal cord injury
The NSCISC states that approximately 30% of all spinal cord injury victims end up being re-hospitalized one or more times every given year following their injury. The length of all re-hospitalizations is approximately 18 days. Re-hospitalization for spinal cord injury victims will not necessarily involve their spinal cord directly, but rather it will be due to injuries caused indirectly by the spinal cord trauma. This can include the following:
- Respiratory diseases
- Digestive system problems
- Circulatory issues
- Genitourinary system problems
- Skin diseases
- Musculoskeletal diseases
The re-hospitalization rate for spinal cord injury victims is higher than those who sustain other types of traumatic injuries because the spinal cord affect so many parts of our bodily systems.
The NSCISC also says that around 30% of people with a spinal cord injury are re-hospitalized one or more times in any given year following their injury. Spinal cord injury victims are much more likely to suffer from genitourinary, respiratory, circulatory, and musculoskeletal diseases.
In addition to these added complications, the average life expectancy for a person following their spinal cord injury is significantly lower than what they would have experienced had they not been injured. The more severe a person spinal cord injury, the higher the mortality rate they are likely to experience in subsequent years. For example, a healthy 40-year-old would be expected to live approximately 40 more years. However, a 40-year-old who experiences complete paraplegia is likely only to live an additional 20 years (this number is reduced to 8.7 years if the victim is ventilator dependent).
Research from there NCSISC database shows that spinal cord injury victims typically have a lower life expectancy than those who have not sustained such injuries. The NCSISC has followed victims of spinal cord injuries for up to 45 years following their injuries. Those who sustain these injuries often fall ill due to related complications due to the effects that the spinal cord injury has on their body and their lifestyle.
The causes of death that have the greatest impact on lowering a spinal cord injury victim’s life expectancy are pneumonia and septicemia. The good news is that data from the last few decades shows that spinal cord injury victim mortality rate has been declining when it comes to death caused by a stroke, heart disease, cancer, digestive diseases, urinary tract diseases, and suicide. However, the mortality rate for spinal cord injury victims has been increasing when it comes to endocrine, metabolic, and nutritional diseases, as well as nervous system diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, accidents, and mental disorders.
What type of compensation is available to spinal cord injury victims?
Victims of spinal cord injuries caused by the negligence of other people are often able to secure various types of compensation for their losses. This can include the following:
- Coverage of all medical bills related to the spinal cord injury
- Recovery of lost income or lost earning capacity
- Coverage of any necessary home or vehicle modifications
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment images
- Possible punitive damages against an alleged negligent party
Speak With An Orange County Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
In one recent example, for instance, a 20-year-old college student that was rendered a quadriplegic due to an automobile accident. For six years, it was believed that the college student was the driver of the vehicle which caused the car accident. This was alleged both by the insurance carrier and the Defendant, who was also in the vehicle. Through skillful investigation, expert testimony, and the use of demonstrative evidence, Aitken * Aitken * Cohn was able to prove that the Defendant was actually the driver. After three weeks of trial, the jury awarded the Plaintiff $6,868,494 in damages. Click here for this trial verdict report.
Aitken * Aitken * Cohn has successfully represented numerous victims of spinal cord injuries. The law firm has the compassion, resources and experience to consult the unfortunate victims of spinal cord injury. For a free consultation from a nationally recognized spinal cord injury lawyer, please contact 1-866-434-1424 or fill out the contact form and a specialist will be in touch shortly.