Spinal cord injuries are among the most costly of all injuries that a person can sustain in an auto accident. A spinal cord injury typically involves permanent damage that can cause paralysis. As a major part of the body’s central nervous systems, even the most minor cuts or nicks can pose danger, and unlike other cells in the body, spinal cord cells don’t regenerate.
The financial burden for spinal cord victims and their families is often unimaginable. Victims cannot work while hospitalized and, in some cases, may never work again. This is often the case when a spinal cord injury leads to paraplegia or tetraplegia, which is paralysis from the neck down. Hospital stays are long, so victims rack up medical bills for doctor visits, nursing care, medication, diagnostic scans, surgery, and other costs associated with hospitalization. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury in an auto accident, compensation cannot undo the negligent party’s actions, but it can help you get the treatment you need and deserve for your injury.
If you, your child, or another loved one has experienced a spinal cord injury in an Orlando car accident, Florida law entitles you to sue for damages in civil court to recover economic and non-economic losses related to the accident and your injury. The Orlando spinal cord injury lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., can help you during this challenging transition in your life. Contact us today at (407) 490-1271 for a free consultation to discuss your auto accident and your spinal cord injury, and to determine the best course of action to hold the party who harmed you accountable.
Our Results in Auto Accident Cases
The skilled legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., has represented auto accident victims for almost two decades, gaining experience in the settlement, negotiation, and litigation of auto accident claims, including those that involve spinal cord injuries. The firm’s continued commitment to justice, advocacy, and client service have resulted in millions of dollars in settlements and awards for injured clients. Additionally, Michael T. Gibson has received several accolades from his peers through organizations such as Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo.com, and SuperLawyers. Recent examples of completed cases include settlements and awards that range from $100,000 to more than $3,000,000 for clients. These case results are only examples and do not guarantee a specific financial outcome in your spinal cord injury claim. Each accident and injury has specific facts and circumstances that can increase or decrease the value of a claim. The spinal cord injury lawyers of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., have the resources to build a strong case against those who caused your spinal cord injury, so you can get the compensation you need to avoid financial ruin.
Traffic Crashes Cause the Most Spinal Cord Injuries
According to The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, more than 250,000 people in the United States live with a disability caused by a spinal cord injury. Additionally, each year over 11,000 people suffer spinal cord injuries that require hospitalization.
Someone can sustain a spinal cord injury in several different ways. If you suffered a spinal cord injury, however, it’s most likely that it occurred as a result of a traffic crash.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 90 percent of spinal cord injuries occur for the following four reasons:
- Traffic accidents. The NIH reports that traffic crashes cause more than 40 percent of all spinal cord injuries, making traffic accidents the leading cause of spinal cord injuries for those under the age of 65. Car accidents that occur at high speeds have massive force during impact, causing a wide array of dangerous and potentially deadly injuries. Spinal cord injuries occurring during a high-speed traffic accident are more likely to cause permanent paralysis in some or all of the body.
- Unintentional falls. Approximately 28 percent of spinal cord injuries occur because of unintentional falls. Elders are especially vulnerable to spinal cord injuries, as they are at a higher risk for falls. In fact, falls are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries in those over the age of 65. Others can fall at home, at the workplace, or at many other locations throughout Orlando.
- Violence. According to the NIH, about 15 percent of spinal cord injuries come from violence, mostly gun violence. In addition to gunshot wounds, knife violence can also cause spinal cord injuries.
- Playing sports. Although less common, about 8 percent of spinal cord injuries come from full-contact sports, like football, hockey, and martial arts. Children and teens are especially at risk, likely because they play more sports. Participating in extreme sports like skydiving, bungee jumping, skiing, and snowboarding can also lead to spinal cord injuries.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Instead of one single nerve, the spinal cord is actually a bundle of nerves that starts at the brain and extends to the lower back. The best example of something similar is an electrical cord for your computer or television. These cords, like a spinal cord, have a collection of smaller wires twisted together on the inside of a larger cord or cable.
The spinal cord, the brain, and more than 30 branches of nerves constitute the central nervous system. The brain sends signals to nerves throughout the body by routing them through the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can block these messages or disrupt their flow. Each type of injury results in a different type and level of loss for the victim. Some people assume that a spinal cord injury means the cord was completely cut in half. This, however, is extremely rare. Most spinal cord injuries occur as a result of a back injury, specifically damage to the spinal column. An auto accident causes fractured vertebrae or discs. If pieces break away, they can get lodged into the spinal cord, causing a potentially catastrophic injury.
Some specific types of injuries that can cause spinal cord damage include:
- Compression fractures of the vertebrae that make up the spine
- Herniated discs or those that rupture or collapse
- Spinal nerve damage
- Cuts, bruises, and nicks on the spinal cord
- Partially severed spinal cord
A Spinal Cord Injury Is a Traumatic Life Event
Those who suffer a spinal cord injury in a traffic accident face varying degrees of long-term effects. Doctors categorize spinal injuries into two main types: (1) incomplete and (2) complete injuries. Incomplete injuries include those in which a spinal cord injury victim has muscle control or feeling in their anus. Victims who suffer incomplete spinal cord injuries have a fighting chance to make a partial or full recovery from their injuries. Complete injuries refer to injuries that cause victims to have no feeling in their anal area, which typically serves as an indication that full recovery isn’t likely.
Medical professionals also divide spinal cord injuries based on the region of the spine where the injury occurred. Different areas of the spinal cord control different bodily functions. Spinal cord injuries occurring closer to the brain typically result in more severe loss than those that occur in the lower back. The potential long-term consequences of a spinal injury in each of the main regions of the spine are as follows:
Cervical Region of the Spine
Each person has eight vertebrae that protect the cervical region of the spine in their neck, which regulates signals between the brain and the diaphragm, arms, and other upper extremities. These are the most dangerous of all spinal cord injuries and are often catastrophic in nature. Many accident victims who suffer a cervical spinal cord injury face full paralysis from the neck down, known as tetraplegia. Accident victims with cervical spinal cord injuries can also lose all movement in their limbs, struggle with using their hands, and in the worst-case scenario, might need to be hooked to a ventilator to breathe.
Thoracic Region of the Spine
The thoracic region of the spinal column includes the 12 vertebrae that protect the spinal cord in the middle of a person’s back. This area of the spinal cord regulates messages between the brain and the core of the body, as well as certain areas of the arms. Accident victims who suffer thoracic spinal cord injuries often face limited movement in their trunks. Victims can also struggle with control of their stomach muscles, depending on the exact location of the injury within the thoracic region.
Lumbar and Sacral Region of the Spine
The five lumbar and five sacral vertebrae lie along the lower back and stop at the tailbone. Accident victims who suffer a lumbar or sacral spinal cord injury often do not have to worry about a catastrophic injury. However, they still may face permanent damage from the injury. Lumbar or sacral spinal cord injuries can cause a loss of function or reduced function from the waist down. In severe cases, paraplegia, which is paralysis from the waist down, can occur if the injury occurred in the upper part of the lumbar region of the spine. Injuries closest to the tailbone cause the least amount of damage and typically don’t lead to paralysis.
Getting Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury
As mentioned above, spinal cord injuries are among the most expensive of all injuries. Accident victims have indefinite and ongoing medical treatment and cannot work, all while their bills continue to pile up. In some cases, individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries won’t ever be able to return to their former jobs.
The economic stress that a spinal cord injects into a household often includes bankruptcy, foreclosure on a home, vehicle repossession, and coping with the daily struggle of meeting basic needs. Some accident victims and their families also amass credit card debt to pay monthly bills and purchase the things they need to survive. If you take legal action against the party who caused your spinal cord injury, you may receive compensation if your attorney negotiates an agreeable settlement or if the court rules in your favor.
Some of the things for which you can receive compensation include:
- Medical expenses, such as ambulance service, emergency room visit, hospitalization, doctor visits, nursing care, surgery, aftercare, x-rays, and prescription medication
- Future medical costs, which include continued treatment for permanent spinal cord damage and the cost of a long-term nursing care facility if the accident victim needs care 24 hours per day
- Rehabilitation expenses, including regular physical therapy to help spinal injury patients regain lost functions and avoid muscle atrophy, as well as occupational therapy to help a victim learn how to navigate his or her daily routine with a disability
- Mental health costs for spinal cord injury victims to work through the emotional trauma of their injury with a counselor or psychologist
- Costs for assistive devices, including wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and other technology to help with pain, communication, and other struggles
- Lost wages for missing work due to the accident, injury, hospitalization, and treatment
- Lost future wages when a spinal cord injury prevents a victim from working
- Home modification expenses, including building one or more wheelchair ramps, installing grab bars, and any other changes that make a spinal cord injury victim’s home more accessible
- Physical pain and suffering from the spinal cord injury
- Mental anguish associated with the injury
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Punitive damages in rare cases of gross negligence or intentional harm
Contact Our Orlando Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you suffered spinal cord injuries in an Orlando auto accident or any other event, contact the empathetic and skilled spinal cord injury attorneys at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., online or at (407) 490-1271 for help with your injury claim. One of our experienced team members can evaluate your case and help you understand your options going forward.
Suffering a spinal cord injury is a traumatic life event. We can guide you through this challenging time and advocate for you throughout the entire legal process, while you focus on learning how to live with your spinal cord injury.
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“I couldn’t be happier with the services provided to me by Michael T. Gibson’s team. Kathy, Jeannette and Amit did an outstanding job in representing me. Throughout the entire process they kept me updated, were easily reachable via email or telephone and always maintained kindness, patience and professionalism. I highly recommend using Michael T. Gibson’s law office as your auto justice attorneys. You will be in the best hands.” -Ash T.