Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves running down your back.
Those nerves are surrounded by bones, called vertebrae. The role of the nerves is to transmit signals from the brain throughout the rest of the body. When the spinal cord is damaged, the symptoms will usually appear in some other part of the body.
The impact depends heavily on the part of the spinal cord that’s damaged.
More specifically, the spinal cord is divided into four primary segments:
- Cervical spine, which is located in the neck and is comprised of vertebrae labeled C1-C7
- Thoracic spine (T1-T12), which is located in the mid-to-upper region of the back
- Lumbar spine (L1-L5), sitting in the lower part of the back
- Sacral spine (S1-S5), which sits at the base of the spine
When the spinal cord is damaged, all regions below the injury can be impacted. In other words, injuries that occur higher up on the cord are the most likely to cause more serious and widespread damage throughout the body.
Understanding Different Types of Spinal Cord Injury
As an initial matter, spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete. Complete spinal cord injuries cause a loss of all sensation and movement below the injury. If the injury is incomplete, you might retain some sensation and mobility in the limbs.
Complete spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis, depending upon where the cord was damaged.
At Allen Law Firm, P.A., we often represent clients diagnosed with:
- Paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower half of the body
- Tetraplegia (quadriplegia), which is paralysis from the neck down (all four limbs)
- Triplegia, or paralysis in three limbs
Most victims of paralysis suffer severe injury to the cervical or thoracic spine. Injuries to the lumbar and sacral spine tend to cause less severe damage because the vertebrae are larger and more sturdy.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries?
It’s important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury if you were involved in an accident.
Specific signs and symptoms might include:
- Weakness or paralysis in any body part
- Tingling in the limbs or extremities
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
- Difficulties with balance or walking
- Difficulty breathing
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
What are the Long-Term Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries?
The impact of a complete spinal cord injury rarely ends with loss of the ability to move your limbs. Many paralysis injuries cause serious long-term complications–some of which are even life-threatening.
Paraplegia, tetraplegia, or triplegia injuries can cause:
- Loss of bladder and bowel function
- Loss of sexual function
- Loss of fertility
- Blood clots and stroke
- Severe respiratory problems
- Muscle atrophy and/or spasms
- Loss of hip function
- Speech loss
Victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries might suffer these types of consequences even if they retain some sensation or mobility in the limbs.
Victims of severe spinal cord injuries are also likely to suffer serious psychological trauma. Loss of mobility, coupled with the need for ongoing medical care, can be emotionally devastating to accident victims and their families.
What Causes Most Spinal Cord Injuries?
Motor vehicle accidents are by far the most common cause of new spinal cord injuries in the U.S.. They account for nearly half of all spinal cord injuries every year. In reality, however, any type of trauma or accident can cause spinal cord damage.
At Allen Law Firm, P.A., we often handle spinal cord injury cases involving:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Uber or Lyft accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective products
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Birth injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Violence and criminal activity
The process for recovering compensation begins with identifying the cause of the injury–and the responsible parties who are financially liable. Under Florida’s comparative fault rules, multiple parties might be responsible.
Having an experienced Gainesville spinal cord injury attorney by your side can make or break your case, especially when multiple parties are involved. To learn more about how our team can help, call to schedule a free case review today.
What is My Gainesville Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?
It’s always challenging to put a dollar value on a serious injury. Of course, no amount of money can really make up for the physical and emotional losses you’ve suffered.
In the end, the value of your case depends upon the extent of the damage and any related complications, including potential future complications. In part, our lawyers determine what your personal injury case is worth by evaluating:
- Your prognosis
- The nature and cost of your medical care over time
- Your age, lost wages, future earning potential, and general health prior to the accident
- The nature and severity of the spinal cord damage
- The pain and suffering, and psychological damage you’ve suffered
At Allen Law Firm, P.A., we’ll bring in medical experts and specialists who can help estimate your future costs. We might also work with financial experts to put a dollar value on your lost wages and future earning capacity.
What Compensation Can I Recover for My Spinal Cord Injury in Gainesville, Florida?
Treating a severe spinal cord injury can cost millions of dollars over a lifetime. Most accident victims don’t have that kind of money. Even comprehensive health insurance policies impose caps and won’t pay all of your medical bills. Fortunately, personal injury victims in Florida are entitled to recover full compensation from the party who caused their injury.
Generally, the types of damages available in personal injury cases involve money for both economic and non-economic losses.
In other words, you deserve money for your out-of-pocket costs, which might include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Wheelchairs and other medical devices
- Diminished earning potential
- Physical therapy and rehab
- Long-term care
- In-home aides
You also deserve to be compensated for things that money can’t buy, which are called non-economic damages and might include money for:
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of your independence
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of fertility
If your loved one’s spinal cord injuries turn out to be fatal, we can also help you recover compensation for wrongful death. If you were hurt at work, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long Do I Have to File a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
Florida recently changed its deadlines for most personal injury cases. If you suffered your spinal cord injury on or after 3/24/2023, you’ll have two years to file your claim. If your injury happened before that date, you will have four years instead.
Victims of medical malpractice have two years from the date they discovered the injury. These time limits are called the statute of limitations.
Florida statutes affect personal injury claims in a number of ways. The statute of limitations is one of the most important. It’s a strict deadline, and there are exceptions. Once time is up, you lose your right to any compensation at all.
Contact a Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
A trusted Gainesville personal injury lawyer at Allen Law Firm, P.A. will fight to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Our lawyers have spent nearly three decades fighting for accident victims across North Central Florida.
If you were hurt, you can trust that we’ll do everything possible to maximize your settlement or verdict. All you have to do is take the first step and fill out our contact form or call our law offices in Gainesville, FL at (877) 255-3652 to schedule a free consultation today.