Spinal cord injuries are particularly devastating and can change your life forever. The harm suffered from a spinal cord injury can be particularly debilitating because the spinal cord controls how the body moves and communicates with the brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, the effects you may experience will vary. In some cases, the damage to the spinal cord may result in minor mobility issues. In others, total paralysis may occur, resulting in a complete inability to move your body. Spinal cord injuries can completely upend your life, the lives of your family members, and those around you in the blink of an eye. This article will talk about what spinal cord injuries are, how they are caused, and what you can do after you have experienced a spinal cord injury.
Experienced West Virginia Spinal Cord Injury Case Representation
If you have experienced a spinal cord injury, knowing what to do and how to recover can be challenging. Spinal cord injuries are often caused by another person or entity’s negligence. When these injuries occur, it is crucial that you take action to hold those responsible for your injury accountable and to get the compensation you need to recover. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process to get the compensation and support you deserve. Salango Law spinal cord injury attorneys are ready to represent you in your spinal cord injury case today. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call (304) 342-0512 or visit us on our website today.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves connected to the end of the spinal canal. These injuries can cause permanent changes in strength, function, and sensation in the body below the injury’s location.
Types Of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries generally result from traumatic events. There are two types of spinal cord injury: complete and incomplete.
Complete Spinal Cord Injury
Complete spinal cord injuries involve permanent damage to the area of the spinal cord. These injuries can cause substantial or total loss of movement or sensation below the injury location. Complete spinal cord injuries generally result in paraplegia or quadriplegia. Paraplegia is the loss of function of one’s legs; quadriplegia is the loss of use of one’s arms and legs.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries result in partial damage to the spinal cord. The effects on sensation and mobility depend on the injury’s location and severity. In some circumstances, you may still have feeling and mobility below the injury site, but that mobility will likely be limited. The extent of the injuries you experience from the spinal cord injury may also be affected by your health, medical history, and existing conditions.
Levels Of Spinal Cord Injury
There are four distinct sections of the spinal cord; injuries to each of these sections will result in varying symptoms. The four areas of the spinal cord are cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. A complete or incomplete spinal cord injury to spinal cord sections may result in different outcomes.
Cervical spinal cord injuries involve the top portion of the spinal cord, consisting of the top seven vertebrae in the neck. Incomplete or complete spinal cord injuries in this area can be particularly debilitating due to the proximity to the brain. Additionally, these injuries may have more widespread effects because symptoms like paralysis affect the body below where the damage has occurred. As with any serious spinal cord injury, recovery and prognosis will vary depending on the severity of the injury. For some, they recover with minor or no permanent effects. Others may experience widespread decreases in sensation or mobility or partial or complete paralysis in most or all of the body.
The thoracic section of the spinal cord is the middle 12 vertebra located between the upper seven or thoracic vertebra and the lower five lumbar vertebrae. These vertebrae contain nerves that control muscles and other functions in the upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal areas. The nerves in the thoracic area control functions like breathing and posture. Injury to this section of the spine can lead to loss of feeling or weakness in the areas below like the legs, lower back, groin, and rectal area.
The lumbar section of the spinal cord involves the successive five vertebrae below the thoracic and above the sacral areas of the spine. The lumbar portion of the spine is crucial because it carries the most weight of any section in the spine and is vital to the function of the hips and legs. Injuries in the lumbar area may result in loss of function of the hips and legs, control of bowels and bladder, or total or partial paralysis requiring assistance to move.
The sacral area of the spine is located beneath the lumbar spine and above the tailbone. This area contains nerves related to the function of the hips and groin, backs of the thighs, buttocks, bladder, bowels, and sex organs. Depending on the injury’s seriousness, you may experience loss of hip and leg function and control of the bladder or bowels.
Causes Of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be caused in many ways. Some injuries may be self-inflicted and accidental, and others may be caused by the conduct of another person or entity. Common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Slip And Falls
- Aviation accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Construction accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Sports accidents
- Train accidents
- Truck accidents
- Acts of violence
Depending on the injury and the involvement of other parties, you may have a viable case for compensation.
Proving Liability In A Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
To succeed on a spinal cord injury claim, you must prove that the defendant negligently caused your injury. To prove negligence, your attorney must establish that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The defendant’s conduct caused your injury; and
- You were injured as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
Compensation For Spinal Cord Injuries In West Virginia
West Virginia allows two types of damages, compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to help you cover costs associated with your injury. Punitive damages are those damages imposed by the court to punish a defendant’s particularly egregious behavior that caused your injuries.
Compensatory damages refer to compensation from the defendant for the injuries they caused. Compensatory damages are the amount of money the defendant must pay to compensate you for amounts you have or will pay and disruptions to your life resulting from the injury.
Noneconomic damages are those damages for injuries or changes to your life resulting from the injury. These damages are harder to calculate because they are more subjective and do not easily translate to a specific monetary value. Types of noneconomic damages can include:
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These damages can be harder to quantify, but with the help of an experienced spinal cord injury attorney, you may receive compensation for these types of damages.
Economic damages are damages that you have directly incurred due to your accident. These damages are easy to calculate as they are usually related to costs incurred for treatment or other expenses you have had to pay or will have to pay stemming from your injury. Examples of economic damages include:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical expenses (past and future)
Punitive damages are damages awarded by the court or jury in spinal cord injury litigation when the defendant’s conduct is especially harmful. To establish punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant acted with malice, caused you harm, or acted with outrageous indifference. Punitive damage awards are rare and subject to a cap equivalent to four times the amount of noneconomic and economic damages or $500,000, whichever amount is greater.
Hiring A West Virginia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
If you have been the victim of a spinal cord injury, speak to a personal injury lawyer. You must act quickly to get the compensation you need to recover. Depending on their severity, spinal cord injuries can have substantial and debilitating effects. If not handled properly, the damage can be widespread and permanent. While outcomes can be as minimal as slight nerve damage, spinal cord injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis.
A spinal injury can profoundly affect your life and the lives of your family and loved ones. Hiring an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can help you determine how to get the compensation you deserve and hold those responsible for your injuries. When spinal cord injury victims need professional spinal cord injury representation, they should choose Salango Law. Salango Law spinal cord injury attorneys have extensive experience in personal injury matters, including back and spinal cord injury cases. To learn more or schedule your initial case consultation, call (304) 342-0512 or visit us on our website today.