If you have sustain a spinal cord injury in the Los Angeles or Southern California area, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. We are compassionate attorneys in your corner and would like to hear your story and offer any assistance possible.
Spinal cord injuries
The human spinal cord is 18 to 19 inches long. It extends down from the base of the brain to just above the waist. It’s located in the spinal canal inside of the vertebrae that form a person’s spinal column. The vertebrae help protect it. There are seven vertebrae in the neck (C-1 to C-7) and 12 vertebrae in the thorax (T-1 to T-12). The lower back known as the lumbar spine has five vertebrae (L-1 to L-5). The sacral (S) and coccygeal(C) areas of the spine also have vertebrae, but those fuse together to form a single bone at each level.
What it does
The brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system. The spinal cord is universally described as a bundle of nerves. When the brain sends a signal for a body part to do something, that’s known as a motor signal. When the body sends a signal to the brain, that’s a sensory signal that might indicate touch, pressure or temperature. We also have autonomic functions that include functions like digestion, body temperature and heart rate. All motor, and autonomic function messages travel from the brain to the spinal cord to nerves. Sensory signals travel through nerves, to the spinal cord to the brain. Spinal nerves also make up part of this network. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that branch off of the spinal cord on each of its sides. In turn, smaller systems of nerves branch off of those spinal nerves through every inch of the body.
What’s a spinal cord injury
A spinal cord injury (SCI) involves damage to the spinal cord itself or the roots of the spinal nerves within the spinal canal. The higher the location of an SCI, the more profound dysfunction a victim will experience. That location is called the level of the injury. It’s the lowest area of the body where the SCI victim still has normal movement or feeling after suffering the injury.
Incomplete vs. complete spinal cord injuries
With an incomplete spinal cord injury, the victim might have some feeling and muscle movement below the level of the injury. The victim of a complete spinal cord injury is generally paralyzed below the level of injury. He or she has no sensory perception in the affected area either.
Common causes of spinal cord injuries
To suffer a debilitating SCI, the cord need not be completely severed. Irreparable harm could result from bone fragments piercing it. A displaced vertebra can even result in an SCI. Nearly all of these injuries are permanent. Unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord doesn’t heal itself, and the most modern medical science can’t heal it either. Once an SCI occurs, further damage to the spinal cord can occur over days or weeks through bleeding, swelling and the accumulation of fluid around the cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Automobile and motorcycle accidents
- Falls, especially with people over 65
- Sports and recreational injuries
- Acts of violence primarily consisting of gunshot wounds
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center reports that alcohol use contributes to about 25 percent of all SCIs. About 80 percent of them are suffered by males. There are about 17,000 SCIs per year, but people who die at the scene of an accident aren’t counted. Hospital stays for SCIs average 11 days. Rehab lengths of stay average 35 days.
SCI victims only reach a level of maximum medical improvement. A lifetime of care is usually required, and complications should be expected to result. It’s unlikely that the victim will be able to earn any income at all anymore. Insurance companies are fully aware of the significant financial exposure that they face with an SCI injury. If the injury was caused by the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, the person who suffered the SCI probably has a valid claim for damages. Under California law, those damages could include compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
The opposing insurer will attempt to minimize an SCI claim by trying to shift at least some of the blame for the accident onto the victim. It will contest the reasonableness and necessity of medical bills along with the credibility of the victim who did nothing wrong at all. Our SCI team consists of accident reconstruction specialists, doctors, economists and life care planners who can accurately detail the nature and extent of the victim’s injuries and damages. Without our team at the side of the person who suffered the SCI, that opposing insurer will have control of the damages issue in the case. That’s all that it cares about. It’s all about the insurer’s stock value and dividends. From the insurer’s perspective, it has little or nothing to do with how profoundly affected your life or your family member’s life will be.
Don’t let an insurance company take advantage of you and your family. We understand the expenses and challenges that an SCI victim will have over a lifetime. The SCI victim and their family don’t have to carry the burden of those expenses when somebody else turned the world upside down on all of them. Contact our offices for a free consultation and case evaluation on any Los Angeles or California SCI or accident. If we’re retained, no legal fees are even due until such time as we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.