Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, according to statistics from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Approximately 282,000 people in the United States live with a spinal cord injury, and about 38% of people living with spinal cord injuries suffered their injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Can Happen in a Car Accident
A spinal cord injury occurs when there is any damage done to the spinal column. There are many different types of car accidents that can result in a spinal cord injury. These accidents include any type of collision, including accidents caused by drunk drivers, drowsy drivers, and distracted drivers.
A spinal cord injury could also result from:
- Rollovers that cause injury to the neck or spinal cord.
- Seat belt failures that result in a victim being thrown around or out of the vehicle.
- Seats collapsing upon impact and resulting in a victim being crushed under the weight of the seat.
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence or the negligent manufacturing of your vehicle, then you may have to live the rest of your life with a spinal cord injury.
How to Live With a Spinal Cord Injury
As with any injury, the specific consequences of a spinal cord injury are unique. These consequences depend in large part on how and where on the spinal cord your injury occurred. If there is a complete break in the spinal cord, then you will suffer permanent paralysis below the point of the injury. If you suffer an incomplete spinal cord injury, then you may lose sensation or voluntary movement on one or both sides of the body.
The effects of your spinal cord injury on your life can be significant and may include:
- Changes in employment status. Only 12% of people with spinal cord injuries are employed one year after diagnosis. That percentage only rises to about 34% at twenty years post-diagnosis.
- Frequent hospitalizations. About 30% of people with spinal cord injuries have to re-enter the hospital at least once a year. The average stay for these re-hospitalizations is 22 days.
- Increased expenses. Healthcare costs and living expenses can be very high for people with spinal cord injuries. On average, people with high tetraplegia had average yearly expenses of more than $1 million the first year after their injury and $185,111 each subsequent year. This does not include lost wages and other indirect costs.
- Decreased life expectancy. There has not been a substantial increase in life expectancy for spinal cord injury victims since the 1980s. Life expectancy is significantly lower for spinal cord injury victims then it is for the rest of the population.
Each day can be challenging for a spinal cord injury victim. You may be completely dependent on others for every need. You may be unable to work, and you may be unable to enjoy the quality of life that you did prior to the car crash that left you so seriously injured.
How to Protect Your Recovery With the Help of a Lawyer
While research is in progress, there is currently no cure for spinal cord injuries. The treatments that are available are designed to treat your symptoms to the extent possible, and to allow you to be as independent as you can be. Despite these treatments, your whole life has been changed by someone else’s negligence.
You deserve to make a fair recovery. That recovery could include compensation for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost income.
- Out-of-pocket costs.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering.
As you fight through each day, so too will you have to fight for your fair recovery. The defendant and the defendant’s insurer will not simply provide you with a check to cover all of your damages. Instead, they want to minimize their payment to you.
Once you agree to a settlement, it will be binding and you will be unable to recover for any future damages. Accordingly, it is important to make sure that any proposed settlement is fair before accepting it and to talk to your lawyer about whether you should pursue your recovery in court.
Attorney Ben Crittenden can help you make these difficult decisions and can fight hard for the fair and just recovery that you deserve. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, then please contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden today to schedule a free consultation about your rights and recovery.