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Mainstage v10 img 1 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:

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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.

Types of Back, Neck, and Spinal Cord Injuries

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:

  • Bulging and herniated discs: The discs between vertebrae are cushioned, allowing for body movement and flexibility. However, when they bulge or rupture because of trauma, they can press on the nerves, causing pain and numbness.
  • Vertebrae fractures: These injuries can happen when one or multiple bones in the spine break as a result of trauma, such as a fall or accident. Depending on the location and type of fracture, the severity of their symptoms can range from barely noticeable to debilitating.
  • Paraplegia and quadriplegia: These severe spine injuries lead to partial or total paralysis. Paraplegia affects the lower part of the body, while quadriplegia affects both the upper and lower sections.

Classification of Spinal Cord Injuries 

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:

  • Cervical/C1-C8 SCIs: These injuries are experienced at the neck level. They are the most serious, affecting the entire body below this part. Cervical spine injury victims can become paralyzed, losing their ability to breathe, speak, or control bladder and bowel movements.
  • Thoracic/T1-T12 SCIs: These rarely occur because of the protection provided by the rib cage. However, when the injuries happen, they can cause paraplegia and affect bowel and bladder control, sexual function, and temperature regulation.
  • Lumbar/L1-L5 SCIs: These injuries affect the lower back level of the spine. They affect the hips and legs and have symptoms similar to those of thoracic injuries. Victims often have to use wheelchairs or braces.
  • Sacral/S1-S5 SCIs: Sacral injuries occur on the lowest part of the spine. They affect the hips, thighs, and pelvic regions and usually disrupt bowel, bladder, and sexual function.

How People Suffer Spinal Injuries in Shreveport 

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: 

  • Car accidents: Car accidents are the leading cause of spine injuries, accounting for approximately 37.6% of the reported spinal cord injury cases from 2015 to 2022.
  • Bicycle accidents: Bicycle accidents can result in significant spinal cord injuries, particularly when cyclists are not wearing proper protective gear.
  • Bus accidents: Buses are large and heavy, and accidents involving these vehicles are likely to cause severe spine injuries. Bus accidents in Shreveport are caused by mechanical failure, driver negligence, and poor road conditions. 
  • Construction accidents: Construction zones are prone to accidents that can result in severe injuries to the back, neck, spine, and even death.
  • Oilfield accidents: Oilfields are some of the most dangerous workplaces. Accidents involving falls, heavy machinery, and explosions can lead to serious spinal injuries.
  • Slip-and-fall accidents: Slips and falls are the second leading cause of spinal injuries in the United States, accounting for 31.5% of the cases reported from 2015 to 2022. These incidents are especially deadly for older adults and can happen anywhere, including in homes, driveways, supermarkets, and public places.
  • Truck accidents: Given the sheer weight and size of semi-trucks and other large commercial trucks, these vehicles pose a significant risk of causing spine injuries. The immense force generated during a truck collision can have catastrophic consequences for occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders. The force exerted on the body in a truck accident — particularly the spine — can result in fractures, dislocations, or damage to the spinal cord.
  • Pool accidents: Falling on the pool deck or diving into the shallow end can result in injuries to the spinal cord. The force of impact on the spine from such incidents can cause fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae, leading to catastrophic injuries.

Symptoms of Back, Neck, and Spinal Injuries

The most common symptoms involving spinal injuries include: 

  • Pain or intense stinging sensation in the neck, head, or back
  • Loss of movement
  • A change or loss of sensation, such as the ability to feel touch, heat, or cold.
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Changes in sexual sensitivity or function

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.

Treatment for Spinal Injuries

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:

Emergency Action

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.

Initial Treatment Stages 

Medical care in the ER focuses on:

  • Preventing shock
  • Maintaining the victim’s ability to breathe
  • Immobilizing the neck to avoid further spine damage
  • Preventing further complications, including urine and stool retention, formation of vein clots, and cardiovascular or respiratory conditions

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.

Non-Surgical and Surgical Treatments 

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.

Ongoing Care and Rehabilitation 

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.

The Long-Term Effects of a Spine Injury

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:

  • Chronic pain
  • Partial or complete inability to walk
  • Secondary health complications such as respiratory or cardiovascular issues
  • Initial and ongoing medical costs
  • Limited ability to enjoy life or participate in hobbies
  • Lost wages and future ability to earn
  • Loss of independence
  • Shift in self-esteem or self-image
  • Strained relationships with friends and family
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression due to the changes brought about by the injury.

The Cost of Spine Injuries in Shreveport

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 Spinal Cord Injury Cases

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:

  • Duty of care: The law requires you to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Examples of this include driving safely and keeping buildings safe by doing the necessary maintenance.
  • Breach of duty of care: The law requires you to show that the defendant breached the owed duty by acting or failing in a certain way. A few examples include violating traffic rules and failing to include signs for slippery floors on a property.
  • Causation: The law requires you to prove that the breach of duty was the direct cause of your spinal injury accident.
  • Damages: You are required to show that the incident resulted in injuries, medical expenses, emotional distress, pain, suffering, and other losses. 

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.

Types of Damages Available in Spinal Injury Cases

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.

Medical Expenses 

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.

Long-Term Care Expenses

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.

Lost Income and Earning Capacity

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.

Physical and Emotional Suffering

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.

Punitive Damages

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.

How a Shreveport Spine Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Case

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:

  • Investigating the accident: The right lawyer will first thoroughly investigate the cause of the incident and the parties responsible. This step involves gathering solid evidence, talking to witnesses, and consulting with experts in the relevant fields. Building a strong case is important in establishing liability and increasing the chances of a fair settlement.
  • Pursuing compensation: An attorney specializing in spinal cord injuries is well versed in personal injury law and knows the intricacies of seeking compensation. They will use their skills and resources to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation expenses, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, and other losses. Their expertise is necessary to get a favorable outcome. 
  • Navigating the legal processes: Legal procedures involving personal injury claims can be overwhelming for people without experience in this field. A competent spine injury lawyer guides their clients through every stage, making sure all paperwork is filed properly and within set deadlines. Legal procedures involve dealing with insurance firms, negotiating settlements, and, if it comes to it, representing the clients in court. 
  • Providing emotional support: The consequences of a spinal injury can be emotionally and mentally challenging for both the victim and their family. An experienced spine injury lawyer understands the toll and is compassionate enough to provide the necessary emotional support throughout the claim process. They serve as advocates, fighting for the plaintiff’s rights and making sure their voice is heard.

Consult Award-Winning Attorneys With Years of Experience With Spine Injury Claims

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.

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