Every year, some South Carolina residents experience debilitating spinal cord injuries. Spinal injuries can include slipped discs, damaged nerves, and bruised spinal cords. The effects of these types of injuries range from mild symptoms to chronic pain and partial or total paralysis. Unfortunately, many spinal cord injuries are preventable and are caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness.
At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we understand how difficult it can be for spinal cord injury victims and their families to manage day-to-day life. Medical bills can pile up, and you may be unable to return to work. If you’ve been injured in an accident or event caused by another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to discuss your case.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord and the brain form a person’s central nervous system and are made up of a collection of nerves that runs through the middle back. The nerves in the spinal cord send messages to different body parts, allowing us to control our body movements and feel the sensation. Spinal cord injuries involve any type of damage to the spinal cord, and a traumatic blow to the spine typically causes them.
The spinal cord can become severed in some cases, but bruising to the spinal column is more common. There are two main categories of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury involves a total loss of motor and sensory function in the impacted area of the body. An incomplete spinal cord injury involves the loss of only some of the functions in the affected area. For example, a person may have sensation but can’t use the impacted limb.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Many different types of accidents and events can cause spinal cord damage, but some common causes include the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Sports accidents
- Workplace accidents
Long-Term Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury
The severity of a spinal cord injury depends on where the damage occurred on the spinal column. The parts of the body below the injured area of the spine will be affected. The higher the location of the damage, the more severe the injury will typically be. When an individual has quadriplegia, he or she has a loss of function in both arms and legs.
Quadriplegia usually results from an injury to the cervical spine. Paraplegia involves the loss and use of a person’s legs and hips, usually due to a cirrhotic, lumbar, sacrum, or coccyx injury. The injury itself is often only the start of a patient’s medical challenges. Those with spinal cord injuries can suffer a wide range of complications, including the following:
- Loss of bladder and bowel control, leading to an increased risk of a urinary tract infection
- Inability to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator or a diaphragm pacemaker
- Pressure sores that occur when a patient’s mobility is limited
- High blood pressure and blood clots back in form in the legs or lungs
- Spasticity, which is a tightening of the muscles that can occur
- Anxiety and depression due to the pain, and loss of mobility and bodily function
- Death from ischemic heart disease, or respiratory system problems
Whether a spinal cord injury is moderate or severe, the medical costs associated with this type of injury can be financially devastating. The average hospital stay is at least 15 days and the rehabilitation phase can last for over 44 days. Those who become quadriplegic can incur up to 1.35 million in lifetime expenses. Paraplegics could require over $428,000 in medical costs over their lifetime. Approximately 30% of patients need to be re-hospitalized one or more times after their initial injury. The length of hospital stay averages about 18 days. These amounts don’t include the cost of lost wages, missed work, and pain and suffering.
Every personal injury case is unique and the amount of damages that can be recovered depends on multiple factors. The severity of the injury and the cause of the injury will affect the amount of compensation available. There are two main options for obtaining compensation after a spinal cord injury, an insurance settlement and compensation from a personal injury lawsuit.
Pursuing an Insurance Settlement
You may be able to obtain a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. For example, if a drunk driver collided with your vehicle and caused your injury, you can seek compensation from his or her insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements to victims, so we recommend discussing the settlement offer with an attorney before signing any paperwork.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, you can also pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Under South Carolina law, a victim who becomes injured because of another person’s negligence can hold that person accountable in court for their financial damages. While you focus on your recovery, the personal injury attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, will fight for your right to compensation. Depending on the facts in your case, you may be eligible for:
- Medical expenses
- The cost of ongoing lifelong care
- Workers’ compensation benefits for spinal cord injuries that occurred at work
- Future loss of earnings
- Disability benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship for the victim’s loved ones
If your loved one experienced a spinal cord injury and passed away from it, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to some of the expenses listed above, you could also obtain compensation for your loved one’s medical costs before they passed away. You can also obtain funeral and burial costs. Nothing can bring your loved one back, but recovering compensation can help you and your family move forward.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If another person or company’s negligence or intentional actions caused your spinal cord injury, you may be entitled to compensation. You only have a limited amount of time to file a claim to recover the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have a proven track record of obtaining compensation in spinal cord injury cases. Contact our office to speak to the skilled personal injury attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to schedule your free initial consultation.