In Californian and elsewhere, motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, causing more than 35 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year. Alcohol use is a factor in about 25 percent of such injuries. The effect of such an injury on a person’s life can be catastrophic, impairing or eliminating the ability to walk, hold dinner utensils or take a bath or shower without assistance. Moreover, injuries involving damage to the spinal cord are permanent – the victim will never recover.
Spinal cord injuries affect the nerve fibers in the damaged area. Such injuries interfere with the ability of the nerves in the injured area to transmit messages from the brain. This impairment in turn cause the victim to lose use and control of the muscles and nerves in the damaged area and nerves that branch out from the spinal column below the injured area. To put it differently, the higher on the spine that damage occurs, the more extensive and lasting the injuries will be.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may include loss of movement in affected limbs, loss of feeling in those limbs, loss of bowel or bladder control and exaggerated reflex actions. Sometimes, the symptoms are not readily apparent, and most hospital emergency rooms will assume that an accident victim has suffered a spinal cord injury until proven otherwise.
The costs of a spinal cord injury can be astronomical. Medical expenses, loss of income and home health care can easily exceed $1,000,000 over the victim’s lifetime. Anyone who has suffered a disabling spinal cord injury, or has a loved one who has suffered such an injury, may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in catastrophic personal injury cases for an evaluation of the case and the likelihood of recovering damages from the parties responsible for causing the injuries.
Source: Mayo Clinic, “Spinal Cord Injury,” accessed on July 4, 2015