A spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when there is damage to the bundle of nerve cells in the back. The spinal column protects the nerve cells. Messages between the brain and the rest of the body travel through these nerve cells.
Damage to the spinal cord could result in paralysis, loss of motor function, and other long-term disabilities and impairments. A person who sustains a spinal cord injury may be unable to work or care for themselves. In many cases, they may require substantial personal care.
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What Are the Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?
When discussing spinal cord injuries, there are two categories to discuss. The first category is the loss of function in the rest of the body.
An injury higher on the spinal column is referred to as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. The injury impacts the upper and lower body and both arms and legs. An injury lower on the spinal column is called paraplegia because it only impacts the lower body and legs.
The second category is complete or incomplete injury.
A complete spinal cord injury causes the total loss of motor and sensory function throughout the body below the site of injury. A complete injury also causes loss of bowel, bladder, and other bodily functions.
An incomplete injury results in partial loss of sensation and motor function below the injury site. The person might still have some control over their arms and legs and feel some sensation. They may retain bodily functions.
What Are Some Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are many accidents and activities that can cause spinal cord injuries.
Some of the common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Violent acts, including gunshots and assault
- Motor vehicle accidents, including car accidents, commercial truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents
- Sports and recreational activities
- Medical malpractice
The cause of spinal cord injuries may vary. However, the effect is often the same. The victim sustains a painful injury that results in debilitating conditions.
What Are Some Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms?
Victims may exhibit a variety of symptoms from a spinal cord injury. The exact symptoms depend on the location of the injury on the spinal column and the severity of the injury to the nerve cells.
Some common symptoms of spinal cord injuries include:
- Loss of movement or paralysis
- Loss of sensation throughout the body or in specific parts of the body
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Difficulty breathing
A spinal cord injury can increase your risk of blood clots and pressure sores. Any loss of motor or sensory function could indicate a spinal cord injury.
It is best to seek medical treatment after an accident. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose an injury and develop a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of recovery.
Also, delays in medical care after an accident can create issues in a personal injury case. A defendant could argue that you failed to mitigate damages by seeking prompt medical care. The defense may also argue that the accident did not cause your injuries.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Examples of the types of damages associated with a spinal cord injury include, but are not limited to:
- The cost of immediate medical treatment and diagnosis of the spinal cord injury
- Physical pain and suffering
- Expenses related to physical, occupational, and rehabilitative therapy
- Mental and emotional distress and anguish
- Loss of wages, salary, benefits, and income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- The cost of personal care and in-home nursing care
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You can also recover compensation for permanent impairment or disability. The permanent injury may entitle you to future damages.
Future damages include:
- A decrease in your quality of life
- Diminished earning capacity
- Future lost wages
- Long-term nursing care and personal care
- Ongoing medical care and personal care
- Continuing pain and suffering
In some cases, an injured person could be entitled to punitive damages. To receive punitive damages, the injured party must prove that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or oppression.
You have the burden of proving that the other party caused your injury to establish liability for damages. Most personal injury claims are based on negligence. However, some claims may involve strict liability.
How Long Do I Have to File a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in Lexington, KY?
Most personal injury claims have a one-year filing deadline under Kentucky’s statute of limitations, including medical malpractice claims and slip and fall accidents. However, motor vehicle accidents generally have a two-year filing deadline.
There are exceptions to the statutes of limitations for filing personal injury claims. You should talk with a Lexington personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to avoid losing your legal rights to seek compensation for injuries.
How Does Contributory Fault Impact a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in Lexington?
Kentucky has a pure comparative fault law. The law does not bar an injury victim from recovering compensation for an injury that is partially their fault. However, contributory fault laws reduce the compensation by the injured party’s level of fault.
For example, suppose a jury finds that you are 35% at fault for the cause of a car accident that results in a spinal cord injury. The jurors award you $2 million for your damages. The amount you’ll receive is $1.3 million (the total damages minus 35% of your contribution to the cause of the injury).
Insurance companies try to limit the amount they must pay for damages. The insurance adjuster may use something you say during an interview to shift some of the blame for the accident to you.
Therefore, allowing a personal injury attorney to handle all communications with the insurance company is best. It is not in your best interest to agree to give the insurance company a written or recorded statement without talking to a lawyer.
Contact a Lexington Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Spinal Cord Injury and the Compensation You Can Seek
Spinal cord injuries can have devastating consequences for victims and their family members. Contact our Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC office to schedule a free consultation with one of our Lexington spinal cord injury attorneys at (859) 550-2900. We are here to help you get the money you deserve after a tragic accident or personal injury.