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The spine plays a vital role in the functioning and well-being of the human body. Made of ring-shaped bones known as vertebrae and a bundle of nerves, the spinal cord transmits messages between the brain and the rest of the body, controlling voluntary and involuntary actions. Spine injuries can result in debilitating and potentially life-altering effects, such as loss of sensation and paralysis.
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are not uncommon. Approximately 18,000 Americans sustain spinal injuries every year, and the medical costs can quickly go over $1 million. While treatments for this type of injury have significantly improved, there’s still no cure for paralysis, and many victims never walk again. This explains why an injury to the back, neck, or spine region should never be taken lightly.
Suppose you or a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury in an accident caused by another person or entity. In that case, you should understand this intricate subject and seek justice and the financial support you need by contacting a Shreveport spine injury lawyer.
The back, neck, and spinal cord consist of bones, muscles, and nerves, enabling movement and sensation. Unfortunately, these essential structures are susceptible to injuries that can impede your body’s optimal functioning. Common types of injuries include:
Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, are classified as either incomplete or complete. Incomplete injuries happen when the spinal cord is partially severed, but some function remains below the point of the injury, allowing for a varying degree of sensation and movement. Complete injuries, on the other hand, happen when the spinal cord is completely severed, resulting in total loss of function below the point of injury.
Spinal cord injuries can be further categorized depending on the level or part of the spine where the injury was sustained. They include the following:
Varying factors can cause spinal cord injuries, some more common than others. In Shreveport, people are more likely to sustain spinal injuries in the following situations:
The most common symptoms involving spinal injuries include:
If you notice any of these concerns after an injury, it’s really important to get medical help right away. Getting a quick diagnosis and treatment could be the key to the difference between life with a disability and getting back to normal.
Researchers in the medical field are constantly working on new treatments for spinal injuries, including medicines and prostheses that can help nerve cell regeneration or boost the functioning of the remaining nerves after an accident. Currently, treatment of spinal injuries involves preventing further injury and encouraging patients through various methods to resume leading an active life. The process involves the following:
Treatment typically starts at the accident scene as the actions done here are vital in reducing the effects of a spinal cord injury. The emergency team immobilizes the spine as fast as possible but in a gentle manner. They do this using a rigid carrying board and neck collar during transport to the emergency room.
Medical care in the ER focuses on:
Spine injury patients are usually admitted to the intensive care unit or transferred to the regional spine injury center. These facilities have teams of specialists such as neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, physicians, therapists, psychologists, and nurses who are well-versed in spinal injuries.
Traction is the most common form of treatment for spinal cord injuries. It is a non-surgical technique that involves pulling the head to create the proper spine alignment. In the case of fractured vertebrae or herniated discs. This form of treatment is also needed to stabilize the spine and prevent complications. At this stage, medication may also be used to manage pain, alleviate muscle spasms, stabilize blood pressure, and help improve cardiovascular function.
It is also important to prevent potential medical complications that may arise from the injury. A spine injury can cause a decline in physical functioning, referred to as deconditioning. The lack of movement can also lead to stiff muscles.
In the early recovery stages, the rehabilitation team may begin to work with the patient. This team can include a physical therapist, psychologist, rehabilitation nurse, physiatrist, and dietician. These specialists work on retaining muscle function and redeveloping motor skills. They also teach the patient new ways to adapt to day-to-day activities.
A severe spinal injury can have devastating outcomes that affect the patient for the rest of their life. Common long-term consequences of spinal cord injuries include:
The cost of spine injuries can vary depending on the severity, type, and cause of the injury, as well as the age and health status of the patient. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, in 2019, the average medical expenses for patients with SCI ranged from $375,000 to $1.2 million for the first year, depending on the severity of the injury. After the initial year, the costs decrease to between $45,000 and $200,000 for each subsequent year. These figures did not include any indirect expenses like lost wages, which average around $77,000 per year.
The best way to assess the cost of your injury is by using a seasoned Shreveport spine injury lawyer. They have the skills and resources necessary to analyze the specifics of your condition and factor in the full scope of potential expenses.
Determining liability in a spinal cord injury case depends on the cause and circumstances of the situation. In Louisiana, there are generally two types of liability: negligence and intentional. Negligence means the defendant didn’t exercise reasonable care and, as a result, caused injury to the plaintiff. Intentional harm means that the defendant recklessly or purposefully caused injury to the plaintiff.
When proving negligence, the following elements come into play:
To prove intentional harm, the law requires you to show that the other party acted with ill will or malice and that their actions or omissions resulted in an injury that made you suffer losses.
Spinal injury victims in Shreveport may have access to various types of damages if they can successfully demonstrate that another party’s negligence was the cause of their injury. Each case is unique, and the damages you can recover depend on the circumstances of your injury.
These expenses include any past, current, and future medical costs for the injury. They can be payments for hospital and doctor bills, rehabilitation expenses, and medication costs. They can also include payment for hospital beds, wheelchairs, lifts, and other equipment that may be deemed necessary.
A severe spinal cord injury may lead to life-altering effects that may necessitate long-term care or nursing. As such, a claim may ask for the costs of certain services, including cleaning, cooking, child care, and transportation services. The cost of changes that may need to be made to homes to accommodate you is also included here.
Most people are unable to go back to their pre-accident working position after a spinal cord injury. If you worked in the construction industry, for example, it is virtually impossible to go back to that line of work if you become paralyzed. This can cause a huge financial strain, especially if you are the main supporter of your family. As such, there is an option to claim compensation for lost wages and earning capacity, which is calculated based on your job, age, career potential, and severity of the injury.
It is not just the financial hurdles of a spinal injury that can affect the victim. You may also experience pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of social life, and loss of life’s pleasures. All these can be factored in when determining the claim amount.
These are damages awarded when the party responsible for the spinal cord injury was found to be grossly negligent or intentional. Punitive damages are designed to punish such parties for their actions and discourage repeating the behavior.
Proving liability in a spinal injury case is not always straightforward, and a Shreveport spine injury lawyer can be indispensable from the onset. The right lawyer can help you make a solid claim by doing the following and more:
A spinal cord injury can have debilitating effects, and the complexities that come with filing a claim make it even more daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to seek justice alone. Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers bring decades of expertise to the table and have a proven record of securing favorable verdicts and settlements for personal injury lawsuits. Call us today at (318) 379-4496 and get a free initial consultation.