The spine is one of the most critical parts of the body. Structurally, it connects the upper and lower body, provides support and balance for movement, and protects the inner organs. Functionally, it shields and supports the spinal column: the bundle of nerves that carries sensation throughout the body.
Because the spine has so many different functions and connects with so many different areas of the body, a spinal cord injury can be devastating, and impact our quality of life forever. Here are some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries, and when you need to consult an Austin spinal cord injury attorney.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Serious spinal cord injuries are not very common in the US, with less than 18,000 new injuries every year. However, these injuries are especially severe, with nearly half of them causing some form of paralysis and lasting impaired mobility. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Automobile accidents. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury among people below the age of 45, causing up to 40% of spine injuries every year.
- Slip-and-falls. Slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury among people over 45, causing almost 57% of spinal cord injuries in people over 61.
Other leading causes of spinal cord injuries include gunshot wounds, motorcycle accidents, and medical/surgical complications.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries have long-lasting neurological effects. In fact, less than 1% of people with a severe spinal cord injury are completely recovered when they are discharged from the hospital. The most common effects of a spinal cord injury are:
- Incomplete tetraplegia. Tetraplegia is the result of an injury in the cervical spine. Over 47% of people with a spinal cord injury experience weakness, impairment, or loss of function in the arms, legs, trunk, and pelvis.
- Incomplete paraplegia. Paraplegia is the result of an injury to the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral spine. More than 31% of spinal cord injuries cause weakness, impairment, or loss of function in the lower extremities.
- Complete paraplegia. In nearly 20% of spinal cord injuries, the victim loses complete sensory and motor function in the lower extremities.
- Complete tetraplegia. In 12% of spinal cord injuries, the victim loses complete sensory and motor function in all their extremities.
A spinal cord injury is not just physically and emotionally devastating. It can be financially devastating as well. The medical cost of treating any loss of motor function is over a million dollars, and a young person with a severe spinal cord injury incurs over $5 million in medical costs over their lifetime.
There are also other important financial damages, like loss of lifetime earnings, pain and suffering, and related damages for the injured person and their loved one. For a full assessment of the long-term financial impact, a spine injury lawyer in Texas should evaluate your case.
Why Do I Need a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer in Texas?
More than any other type of personal injury, people with a spinal cord injury should consult with an Austin spinal cord injury attorney. Spinal cord injuries are especially complicated cases, and it is crucial to consider:
- Long-term impairments. In Texas, cases often hinge on crucial medical determinations like the degree of impairment, or the date of maximum medical improvement (MMI). Because these assessments are so important, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion.
- Whole-life impacts. A spinal cord injury may affect your ability to work and support yourself and your family. It may also affect how you enjoy your leisure and social time. It may also require special accommodation and modifications in your home or vehicle, at-home care or equipment, and have other impacts on every aspect of your life.
- Effects on family and loved ones. If a family member or loved one has to help accommodate a spinal cord injury, perhaps losing time at work, learning new caring skills, or taking on more financial responsibility for the family, their needs should also be considered. Friends and family of someone with a spinal cord injury may also be suffering from emotional pain, financial effects, and other damages.
Because there are so many factors to consider, over such a long time period, it is important to consult with a spine injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury.
If you or a loved one have had a spinal cord injury in Austin, contact the Law Offices of Aaron Allison. This family-owned law firm has been helping accident and injury victims since 1978 and offers free consultations to help you understand your rights. Call 512-474-8346 today or get in touch with us online.