A spinal cord injury is usually caused by a sudden and severe impact to the spine, such as an auto accident. This type of injury can be a terrible and life changing event. One impact can cause you to lose your good health and the ability to enjoy everyday life.
A spinal cord injury, simply put, is damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is made up of nerves that run from your brain down to your lower back. The bones in your spine help protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord moves information from the brain to the rest of your body; this information enables you to move and to feel. An injury to the spinal cord can stop the flow of information below the site of the injury. The closer the injury is to the brain, the more areas of the body can be affected.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
An injury to the neck can affect your legs, chest and arms (quadriplegia), and an injury to your mid back will usually affect your legs (paraplegia). A spinal cord injury is referred to as either complete or incomplete:
A complete injury means there is no feeling below the location of the injury. With an incomplete injury, there is still some feeling or movement.
Areas of the Spine
The spinal cord is surrounded by a column of bones, or vertebrae, that start at the base of the skull and continue down the neck and back and to the spine’s connection with the pelvis. Commonly, the vertebrae are divided into three sections: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. The spine is likewise described in these three terms.
The bones of the neck make up the cervical spine. These bones allow the neck to support the weight of the head as well as providing protection for the delicate nerves that made up the spinal cord. This area of the spine is particularly susceptible to injury in an accident because the structure of the neck allows the head to snap forwards and backwards. A simple jerking action from an accident can cause a spinal cord injury and so can direct trauma, like a blow, to the neck. Of all the possible spinal cord injuries, those to the neck can cause the most severe results. Often, paralysis at the level of the injury results and will cause a victim to become a quadriplegic, or paralyzed and without the use of the arms or legs.
The middle back is the location of the thoracic spine. The vertebrae of the thoracic spine make up the back of the rib cage and connect the cervical spine to the lumbar spine. The spine is curved from top to bottom and this curve is part of the reason that thoracic spine injuries are relatively rare. Though they comprise only 10 to 15 percent of all spine injuries, accidents involving the thoracic spine are just as serious as any other spinal cord injury. These accidents can result in a loss of sensation or even paralysis, depending on the severity and location of the injury.
At the base of the thoracic spine is the lumbar spine. This is commonly thought of and referred to as the lower back. The lumbar spine is often injured in accidents, including car accidents, and often results in the need for extended medical treatment. This area of the spine is close to and related to many vital functions of the body, including several internal organs. Any damage to the lumbar spine can result in paralysis as well as decreased function of these organs.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are most common after an accident or other traumatic event but that is not the only way they occur. The failure to properly diagnose or treat a disease can also lead to a spinal cord injury. Often, this involves a spinal cord abscess that is not recognized by a medical professional and is allowed to progress, causing permanent damage. Some other common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating and some of the most severe injuries that a person can survive. When an accident leaves a victim with a spinal cord injury, the damage is done not only to that victim but also to the victim’s family, friends, and work life. A victim may find themselves in need of medical treatment but without the means to afford it. The bills may start piling up with no income to pay them. Even a victim’s home may no longer suit their needs after a spinal cord injury.
Chicago Spinal Cord Injury FAQ
Spinal cord injuries can leave you suffering from serious, lifelong complications. Even in the case of incomplete spinal cord injury, which does not completely sever the spinal cord, you may find yourself with limited mobility and other significant challenges.
Did you suffer a spinal cord injury in Chicago? We have prepared the following to answer some of the questions we often hear in our office. If you have direct questions about your claim, contact our spinal cord injury attorneys as soon as possible.
1. Who has to pay my medical bills after a Chicago spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury can bring with it heavy medical bills. Who has to pay them? Ultimately, you do. However, you have several resources at your disposal to aid in paying those medical bills, including and a spinal cord injury legal claim, which will provide payment to you that you can use to make payments on your medical bills.
If you need to wait for a Chicago spinal cord injury claim to pay out to cover your medical expenses, a Chicago spinal cord injury lawyer can put together a letter of protection that will establish your intent to pay your medical bills once you receive your settlement or award.
2. What limitations do spinal cord injuries cause?
If you suffered spinal cord injury in an accident in Chicago, you may experience lifelong symptoms and limitations. The extent of your limitations will depend on the location and severity of your injury. Incomplete spinal cord injury, in which the spinal cord does not sever completely, can leave you with decreased mobility and sensation below the site of the injury. Complete spinal cord injury can leave you with no mobility, sensation, or function below the injury. Your doctor can give you a better idea of what to expect as you recover from your injuries.
Spinal cord injuries can prevent you from completing your daily job functions and engaging in the activities that you usually enjoy. Many spinal cord injury victims require a wheelchair or crutches and braces to get around. While victims with incomplete spinal cord damage may regain some function, victims with complete spinal cord injury may never fully regain the capacity they enjoyed before the accident.
3. When should I file a spinal cord injury claim?
After a spinal cord injury in Chicago, contact an experienced spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. A Chicago spinal cord injury attorney can provide critical advice that will help you better understand when to file your claim. That attorney can also gather vital evidence about your claim.
- Allow the attorney to investigate your claim. In some cases, including auto accidents and construction accidents, multiple parties may share liability for your injuries. A full investigation, including viewing witness statements and even consulting with an expert witness, can help provide a better picture of how much compensation you deserve and who caused your injuries.
- Heal before settling. It can take up to six months for your doctors to have a solid idea of how much mobility and function you will regain, especially in the case of incomplete spinal cord injury. Your attorney may advise waiting until you move further through that healing before settling your Chicago spinal cord injury claim, since the extent of your healing as well as the extent of your medical bills can contribute to the compensation you deserve.
4. Who bears liability for the spinal cord injury I suffered in Chicago?
Spinal cord injuries can occur in many different types of accidents: construction accidents, slip and fall accidents, auto accidents, and product liability accidents, for example.
The party that caused your accident must:
- Have a duty of care to you at the time of the accident. In the case of an auto accident, that could mean the auto manufacturer or the driver who caused the accident.
- Violate that duty of care. Drinking and driving, driving distracted, or violating the rules of the road, for example, all violate the duty of care held by all drivers.
- Cause your injuries through that violation. Your attorney will work to show how the other party’s negligence contributed to your injuries.
In many accidents, multiple parties share liability for the victim’s injuries. Consult our experienced Chicago spinal cord injury attorneys to give you a better idea of all parties who contributed to your accident.
5. How much compensation do I deserve for a spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injuries bring with them substantial medical bills, and many victims receive significant awards. You cannot, however, predict the extent of your award based on what other parties have received for spinal cord injuries in the past.
A Chicago spinal cord injury attorney can provide you with an idea of how much compensation you should expect based on:
- The extent of the insurance policy that covers the liable party
- The extent of your medical bills
- How much time you had to miss at work
- The severity of your injuries
Your attorney cannot, however, offer guarantees about the compensation you will ultimately receive, whether the insurance company offers a settlement or you go to court to fight for the damages.
6. What if the insurance company offers a settlement? Should I take it?
Many insurance companies act fast after an accident that results in serious injuries. They may provide you with a settlement offer before you even make it out of the hospital or have any idea what your medical bills and limitations will look like long-term.
You should not accept this offer before talking to our Chicago spinal cord injury attorneys.
The insurance company may use that offer to limit its financial liability, rather than offering the compensation you really deserve for your injuries. That initial settlement offer may include much less money than your injuries eventually end up costing, according to the limits of the policy and the extent of your injuries. If you accept it, the insurance company owes you no further compensation. A Chicago spinal cord injury lawyer can give you a better idea of what compensation you really deserve and when to accept an offer.
Contact A Chicago Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we understand how one accident can change an entire life. When you have been hurt through the negligence of another, you may be able to bring a civil claim for your damages. The first step to understanding your legal rights should be contacting a personal injury lawyer who handles spinal cord injury cases. We offer a personalized approach to the legal process where you can speak with an attorney 24 hours a day.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.
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