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Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case review with a personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale. We will help you understand your case’s worth and take action to pursue fair compensation for you. Call us at (954) 287-0566 to get started!
Table of Contents
Overview of Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury (SCI) refers to any damage to the spinal cord or the nerves of cauda equina, which extend into the sacral and lumbar area. When the nerves and cells of the spinal cord are injured, signals between the brain and the body are disrupted.
Injuries to the spinal cord are one of the most serious types of injuries. Many SCIs are considered catastrophic, which means they come with long-term, serious, and life-changing consequences.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are divided into two broad types: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord is fully severed and results in permanent damage to the affected region.
An incomplete spinal cord injury results in partial damage when the spinal cord isn’t fully severed and allows some signals to pass. Someone with an incomplete SCI will still retain some amount of feeling and movement, depending on the severity and region injured.
SCIs are further divided into types based on the level of the injury and type of trauma.
Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is made up of four sections.
- Cervical injuries (C1 to C8) affect the head and neck above the shoulders. This is the most serious SCI level and usually the most life-threatening and limiting. A cervical SCI can cause paralysis, weakness, and/or loss of sensation in all four limbs.
- Thoracic injuries (T1 to T12) affect the abdominal muscles, mid-back, and upper chest. Hands and arms are usually not affected, but victims may have paralysis in the legs.
- Lumbar injuries (L1 to L5) affect the legs and hips. These injuries can cause problems with bowel and bladder control and weakness in the legs and hips.
- Sacral injuries (S1 to S5) affect the hips, pelvic organs, buttocks, and the backs of the thighs. This is the most uncommon location for an injury.
In general, the higher up the injury to the spinal cord, the more limitations it will cause. It can be very difficult to predict the impact of an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Types of Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two types of complete SCIs. Tetraplegia from a cervical spinal injury is the most serious and causes paralysis in every limb. Paraplegia happens when there is a complete loss of function and sensation in the lower limbs. Someone with paraplegia still maintains function in their arms, hands, and upper body.
Triplegia refers to an incomplete SCI that causes loss of sensation and movement in three limbs.
Types of Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
An incomplete SCI can be classified in many ways depending on the location and type of the damage:
- Brown-Sequard syndrome is an injury to the right or left side of the spinal cord that causes an asymmetrical injury affecting one side of the body. One side may be weakened or paralyzed while the other is fully functional. This is called monoplegia or hemiplegia.
- Cauda Equina syndrome refers to lesions on the nerve roots in the nerve bundle in the lumbar region.
- Posterior cord syndrome happens when the back of the spinal cord is damaged. This can be caused by a strong blow to the back. It often causes coordination issues.
- Anterior cord syndrome happens when the front of the spinal cord is damaged. This affects sensations of pain, touch, and temperature.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are very unpredictable. There is no way to know the severity and limitations, even based on the type and level of trauma.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries can result in a wide array of signs and symptoms, depending on the injury’s severity, type, and location.
Common symptoms of an SCI include:
- Loss of function to one or more body parts
- Loss of sensation
- Weakness in the arms, legs, hips, and buttocks
- Tingling sensations in the limbs
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
See the types of spinal cord injuries above for symptoms based on the type and level of the injury.
What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries are often catastrophic and leave victims with life-long complications. Some people are able to mostly or fully recover from a spinal cord injury; others are left with permanent loss of function and sensation.
A spinal cord injury can leave you unable to work, affect relationships, and impact your ability to perform basic tasks of living. Consequently, the financial consequences of a spinal cord injury are significant.
Medical expenses alone can exceed $1 million, but hidden costs include traveling for treatment, home modifications, and equipment like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
According to the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the average medical cost associated with high tetraplegia (complete SCI of C1 to C4) is more than $1 million during the first year. The average cost is $185,000 for every subsequent year.
The lifetime costs of an SCI for a 25-year-old are:
- $4.7 million (high tetraplegia)
- $3.4 million (low tetraplegia of C5 to C8)
- $2.3 million for paraplegia
- $1.6 million for incomplete motor function
One year after their injury, only 11% of people with an SCI are working. This rises to only 35% after twenty years. The lost wages and lost earning capacity can be enormous.
How Common Are Spinal Cord Injuries?
It’s estimated that 291,000 people in the U.S. are living with a spinal cord injury. However, some estimates place this number at 450,000. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, about 17,700 new spinal cord injuries occur every year. The average age for an SCI is 43 and nearly 78% of new cases are men.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries in Fort Lauderdale?
Most SCIs are caused by trauma to the vertebral column. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries for younger adults. Among seniors, falls are the leading cause of SCIs.
Common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents (39% of SCIs)
- Falls (32%)
- Violence, particularly gunshots (13.5%)
- Sports-related injuries (8%)
There are rare non-traumatic causes of spinal cord injuries, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, spinal stenosis, cancer, osteoporosis, and tumors of the spine.
What is My Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?
There is no way to estimate the value of your spinal cord injury case without a careful analysis of the circumstances. The biggest factor affecting your case value is the severity of your injury. The amount of insurance coverage available also affects your case’s value.
It is not uncommon for spinal cord injury cases to be worth $1 million or much more. You are entitled to compensation for your medical costs, your lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and more.
To find out how much your case may be worth, contact a Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury attorney at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers for a free case review.
What Compensation is Available After a Spinal Cord Injury in Fort Lauderdale, FL?
You are entitled to be made as whole as possible after your accident. The at-fault party cannot erase your injuries and pain or restore your bodily function and sensation. However, a financial value will still be assigned to these losses you have incurred.
You can recover two types of damages: non-economic damages for personal losses and economic damages for financial losses.
This may include:
- Medical expenses, including the future medical care you will need
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Do not let an insurance company try to minimize the losses you have suffered. Contact the Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to fight for the compensation you need.
How Long Do I Have to File a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
The Florida statute of limitations for personal injury cases is four years. Your lawsuit must be filed by this deadline, or you will lose your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party. If a government entity was to blame, the statute of limitations can be even shorter.
Do not waste time in pursuing your case. After seeking medical care, contact a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer to begin working on your case. It is not uncommon for catastrophic injury cases to take many months or even years to be resolved.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
The last thing you should be worried about after a spinal cord injury is a battle with an uncaring insurance company. If someone else’s negligence is responsible for your injuries, we will fight on your behalf for compensation for the medical care you deserve.
Contact Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury lawyer. We work on a contingency fee basis so you pay nothing out of pocket for the legal representation you need.