Catastrophic Injuries: What to Do When You or a Loved One Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury After Engaging in a Serious Car Accident in San Diego?
If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an automobile accident in San Diego, you may be entitled to recover compensation as these types of injuries tend to have a significant impact on a person's ability to live how they desire and pursue their career.Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord "is the major bundle of nerves carrying impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body" [Source: WebMD]. When the spinal cord suffers an injury, it either means the nerves themselves suffered direct trauma or the bones and soft tissues and vessels that surround the spinal cord have become damaged. While there are varying degrees of spinal cord injuries (SCI), the injury itself is classified as either a complete SCI or an incomplete SCI.Complete vs. Incomplete SCI
While a complete spinal cord injury is "a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury," an incomplete injury "means the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost" [Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation]. A person who suffers an incomplete spinal cord injury may still have some sensation left and possess the ability to move the part of their body that is below the injury site.What are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries and What is the Most Common Type Suffered?
It all depends on the area of the body that was impacted by the accident. If the upper part of the spinal cord was affected, then it is likely the victim suffered a cervical spinal cord injury. To help you better understand the different types of SCI's, below we have outlined what each of them is and the areas they tend to impact.
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury– This type of injury affects the neck and can "cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs, resulting in quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia). Tetraplegia is "the inability to voluntarily move the upper and lower parts of the body. Some areas that may be affected as a result of a cervical SCI include:
- A cervical SCI may also affect a person's ability to move their head, neck, and shoulders.
A cervical spinal cord injury is generally "accompanied by the loss of physical sensation, respiratory issues, inability to regulate body temperature, bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction."
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury. These types of injuries "can cause paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia) along with loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction." Paraplegia describes a person's "inability to voluntarily move the lower parts of the body including the toes, feet, legs, and sometimes the abdomen."
Sacral Spinal Cord Injury. These types of injuries tend to "cause loss of bowel and bladder function as well as sexual dysfunction. They can also cause weakness or paralysis of the hips and legs."
According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the most common type of spinal cord injury suffered since 2010 was an incomplete tetraplegia. This means those who suffered this type of SCI lost some, not all, of their ability to move both the upper and lower parts of their body. The next most common type of SCI was an incomplete paraplegia.
Should I File a Lawsuit Against the Other Party I Was Involved in an Accident With if I Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury?
Filing a lawsuit, whether it be against the other driver or your insurer who hasn't provided you with adequate compensation are definitely options you should consider, especially if your injury is severe. Not only do SCI's interfere with a person's way of life not to mention the relationship they might be in, but they can cost a substantial amount to treat. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the average yearly expenses including health care costs and living expenses for those who suffered an SCI are as follows:
- $1,064,717 for the first year if the injury was classified as a High Tetraplegia and $184,891 for each subsequent year.
- $769,351 for the first year if the injury was classified as a Low Tetraplegia and $113,423 for each subsequent year.
- $518,904 for the first year if the injury was classified as Paraplegia and $68,739 for each subsequent year.
- $347,484 for the first year if the injury was classified as an incomplete motor function (any level) and $184,891 for each subsequent year.
The source says that these costs do not include any indirect costs including lost wages, fringe benefits, and productivity. These amounts may also be a bit higher now as they were derived from data that was collected a few years back.
Given the impact a spinal cord injury can have on a car accident victim, we do encourage you to contact San Diego, CA car accident attorney Bruce S. Meth to find out how much you may be entitled to for the damages (i.e. pain, suffering, lost wages, loss of employment, medical bills, etc.) you suffered.