We do not think much about what the injury risks might be from accidents when we get behind the wheel or ride as a passenger in a car. In case of a collision, one known risk to victims is spinal cord injury.
Since 2015, motor vehicle crashes have been the leading cause of spinal cord injury, sometimes called SCI, causing almost 40% of all of them, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, associated with the University of Alabama. SCI reduces life expectancy and an infection like septicemia or pneumonia may eventually be fatal.
Nature of SCI
A spinal cord injury occurs in the case of an auto accident from traumatic impact that either injures or severs the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the “major bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body,” explains the Shepherd Center of Atlanta, Georgia. Nerves leave the spinal cord, running between the vertebrae to various body areas.
SCI causes loss of motion (including function and mobility) or of sensation or both. The extent of impairment depends on the location and severity of the injury, with injury higher in the spinal cord likely causing more severe impairment. For example, cervical SCI (occurring in the area of the top eight vertebra) can cause paralysis of all four limbs, called quadriplegia.
In a car accident claim for an SCI against an insurer, negligent driver or other potentially responsible party, it is crucially important not to agree to a settlement without professional advice. An experienced lawyer can launch a full investigation of the circumstances and fully develop the medical record to understand the short- and long-term financial needs stemming from the SCI. Doing so may require assessments by medical, vocational and other experts.
Remember, an SCI can cause catastrophic, permanent injuries that may require ongoing medical care. An attorney will fight for the full extent of necessary damages to compensate for all related financial losses, including those for:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Physical and occupational therapies, past and future
- Lost wages and job benefits, past and future
- Diminished earning capacity
- Modifications to home and vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Medical equipment and supplies, including potentially wheelchairs and lifts
- Housekeeping services
- Long-term care
- Personal attendant services
- Mental health treatment
- And others
In a case when the at-fault driver or other party acted outrageously or maliciously in causing the SCI, punitive damages may also be available. These are meant to punish the wrongdoer for particularly extreme behavior and deter others from doing the same.