Your spine is the nerve highway, affecting every part of your body. So it is no surprise that an injury to this sensitive pathway can cause widespread damage to your body and have long-term repercussions. If your injury was the result of another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation. A New York spinal cord injury lawyer from Buttafuoco & Associates can help you file a claim and gather evidence to prove the other party’s negligence.
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Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury can occur if your back or neck suffers a sudden, severe blow. This impact can dislocate or fracture the protective vertebrae around the spinal cord.
Any fractured or displaced vertebrae can bruise or cut into your spine, causing compression of the spinal cord and loss of sensation or motion. In severe cases, the bone fragments or pressure from the impact will sever the cord and cause permanent paralysis.
Your vertebrae are strong to protect your spine from many common accidents, but they are often no match for a catastrophic car accident. In fact, car accidents cause 36.5 percent of all spinal cord injuries, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.
Some other accidents that might cause a spinal cord injury are:
- Slip and falls
- Medical errors
- Assaults and acts of violence
- Sports injuries
- Work injuries
Symptoms and Long-term Consequences
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury vary with the severity of the damage and location of the injury along your spine:
Spinal Cord Injury at the Neck (Vertebra C1-C4)
An injury in this area is called high tetraplegia. A severe case can leave a person with little or no movement or sensation in the parts of your body below the neck.
With an injury so high up on the spine, many high tetraplegia patients have no movement or feeling in their arms or legs and might have difficulty breathing unassisted. It will also leave a person dependent on others for self-care such as feeding, bathing, and using the toilet.
Spinal Cord Injury at the Upper Back (Vertebra C5-C8)
An injury in this area is called low tetraplegia. Patients with injuries to the C5 vertebra may be able to flex their elbows, but will likely be unable to grasp or manually manipulate objects. Victims often lose all other movement and function below the shoulders. Victims with this injury will likely require assistance with self-care.
As the injury site moves further down the spine, the upper extremities are less impaired. Victims with an injury at C8 should be able to continue full use of their hands and arms and will have more independence than a high tetraplegia patient.
Spinal Cord Injury at the Lower Back (Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebra)
Also known as paraplegia, injuries to these areas of the vertebra will allow the injured person to function normally from the waist up and maintain normal independence in most self-care needs. Lumbar injuries may allow the person to walk short distances with or without the need for braces or assistive devices.
Life for a person after a spinal cord injury will change drastically. Depending on the severity of your injury and the type of work you did, you may or may not be able to work and cover the costs.
Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury
The inability to earn an income coupled with the cost for home care and assistive devices drives up the long-term cost of a spinal injury. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimated the yearly cost of healthcare expenses for each level of injury:
- High tetraplegia can cost $1,064,716 the first year and $184,891 for subsequent years.
- Low tetraplegia can cost $769,351 the first year and $113,423 for subsequent years.
- Paraplegia can cost $518,904 the first year and $68,739 for subsequent years.
- Incomplete motor function at any level can cost $347,484 the first year and $42,206 for subsequent years.
These are only estimates of healthcare costs. When combined with lost income and benefits, the annual damages can increase the average by $71,961.
Costs vary greatly depending on each person’s individual circumstance. We will work with a team of financial and medical experts to see exactly how your injury has affected you and will continue to affect you for years to come. This will allow us to put a dollar amount on your injury.
Can I recover compensation for my spinal cord injury?
Paying for these injuries, especially your ability to work has been diminished or erased completely, can seem impossible. If you can prove that your injuries are the result of another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover all the costs of your spinal cord injury.
Heed our warning, though — insurance companies will not be willing to part with the millions of dollars in damages these injuries can cause. You need a team of personal injury lawyers familiar with both your type of accident and the nuances of a permanent spinal cord injury.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have decades of experience representing injured individuals against insurance companies. We have handled many of the cases that commonly lead to spinal cord injuries and understand the long-term repercussions of these devastating situations.
We want to help you in any way we can; you just need to schedule a free consultation with us.
Contact us at 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule your meeting with our New York spinal cord injury attorneys.