When there’s been an accident, few outcomes are scarier than potential spinal cord injuries.
Spinal injuries are some of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Every year, there are an estimated 12,000 new spinal injuries – not including the number of people who die at the scene of the accident due to spinal cord injuries.
Not all of these 12,000 injuries are extremely serious or even permanent, but even so, there are over 255,000 Americans who currently live with spinal cord injuries – and many of them are completely debilitating.
That’s the real danger of not getting treated for spinal cord injuries after an accident: if left untreated, the injury can progress to partial or complete paralysis, which, needless to say, can be a catastrophic blow to your quality of life.
No one wants to be paralyzed. Getting treated if you have been injured in an accident is of the utmost importance and should happen without delay.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
If you’ve been in an accident, what symptoms do you need to look out for when it comes to your spinal cord?
The first obvious sign that something is wrong is if you get acute, sharp pain anywhere in your neck or back. This is usually the case with whiplash. A lot of people downplay whiplash, thinking it’s annoying at worst and just a painful inconvenience. That’s not true, though – whiplash can be severe and debilitating and can actually be a sign of a serious neck injury.
Whiplash refers to tearing muscles and tendons in your neck and upper back after a severe change in motion in your head and neck, usually from a car accident. But the same forces that cause whiplash can also cause damage to the nerves and vertebrae of your spinal cord. You should be cautious and seek treatment if you experience the following after an accident:
- Pain in your neck when moving your head from side to side or forward and backward
- Decreased range of motion in your neck
- Tightness and knots in your neck
- Stiffness and tenderness from your shoulders up
- Sharp, stabbing pain whenever you move your head
- Headaches at the base of your skull that radiate throughout your head
There are other symptoms of spinal cord injuries, including:
- Tingling in your limbs or extremities (fingers and toes)
- Numbness or complete loss of feeling
- Sharp, stabbing pain in your back
- Immobility in your limbs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Intense stinging or burning sensation
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty walking or moving
- A twisted back or neck
If you notice these symptoms, you should seek immediate emergency treatment. If any of these symptoms develop over the next 24-72 hours, you should seek immediate emergency treatment.
Even if you don’t notice anything serious at first, go see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident to get checked out. Sometimes it takes an x-ray or MRI to notice damage.
Dealing with a Serious Spinal Cord Injury
The implications of a serious spinal cord injury can be life-changing.
The worst cases of ongoing injury involve needed personal assistance in some form for the rest of their lives. Think of people who are paraplegics or quadriplegics; they usually rely on family members or professional care to live and function.
Quality of life goes down and pain and suffering rise, which have their own emotional and psychological tolls. In addition to these intangible costs, there are real monetary costs in the forms of medical bills, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, medication, and lost wages. Partial paralysis may result in six figures worth of medical expenses in just the first year; that number rises to near a half a million dollars for complete paralysis.
The financial and emotional costs of a serious spinal cord injury can be staggering – and if left without help, a victim and his or her family can be buried by the burdens the injury places on them.
Getting Compensation for Your Injury
Insurance can help to some extent, but no form of insurance – except perhaps the most expensive forms of health insurance that few can afford – can completely cover all the enormous costs of a severe spinal cord injury.
The only way to really get compensation not just for medical bills and lost wages but also for physical and emotional pain and suffering is to take legal action. A personal injury attorney can help you put together your case and pursue action against the responsible party.
The goal is to get compensation and punish negligent and reckless behavior, not just for your benefit, but for others who may be injured by future reckless action from the responsible party.
You need a personal injury attorney with the spinal cord injury experience it takes to successfully navigate a lawsuit. There are many different outcomes that could occur, and not all of them are favorable. A trusted, veteran lawyer can increase your chances of getting the best results.
It’s your life at stake, so you don’t want to entrust your case to anyone other than an attorney who understands how to use the law to your full advantage – and who also cares for you as a person and is motivated on a personal and professional level to get justice for you.
Contact the caring personal injury attorneys at Wettermark Keith for more information on how to handle your spinal cord injury case. Life will be hard from here on, but with our help, you can be taken care of – which makes your burden lighter and easier to handle.