About 17,000 people suffer from a spinal cord injury each year. A SCI is any injury that does damage to the spinal cord and results in a loss of function, feeling or mobility. The most frequent cause is by motor vehicle accident (including motorcycles). After that would be other accidents, such as gunshot wounds or falls, or certain diseases.
How Many People Have SCI in the US?
Around 450,000 people have spinal cord injuries in the United States alone. Around 82% of those people are men, mostly from car accidents.
Who Are They?
Many of those with spinal cord injuries are survivors of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, other types of violence or falls. The majority are men between the ages of 16-30 years older, and those older than 70.
How Does a SCI Occur in a Car Accident?
Spinal cord injuries are not as uncommon as you would think, especially in car accidents or motorcycle accidents. These two alone make up 40% of all spinal cord injury cases. In motorcycle accidents, it’s often because the rider either loses control or is hit by a driver that isn’t paying attention. Because they are wearing limited padding, motorcyclist accidents tend to be severe and it’s easy to see how someone could hurt their back. Motorcycles don’t have seatbelts, so when someone gets hit, they often land on the ground, and this directly affects their back.
In car accidents, spinal cord injuries occur most often when the driver is rear-ended by another driver. The spinal cord is around 18 inches long and starts at the base of your brain, all the way down your back to your waist. The nerves in your spinal cord are the most important, because they carry messages back and forth to your brain, controlling how you move your arms, legs, digits, any part of your body. When you’re rear-ended, all of the impact is on your back and neck, as opposed when you’re sideswiped or hit from a different direction. Unfortunately, that kind of impact can really damage your spinal cord.
What Are the Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury From a Car Accident?
The effects vary depending on the severity of the crash and the type of spinal cord injury. Your spinal cord does not need to be severed for it to be considered injured. With an “incomplete” injury, you’d be able to move certain parts of your body, but not others. In a “complete” injury, you would not be able to move at all. Besides losing the ability to control or move certain parts of the body, those who suffer from spinal cord injuries also lose control over other areas, such as their bladder or even their ability to breathe.
Can You Recover?
When someone gets into a car accident and suffers a spinal cord injury, their spinal cord swells which is why they lose various functions in their body, depending on which nerves are damaged and swollen. Once the swelling starts to go down, people can regain some of their function back. It can take up to 18 months for the swelling to completely decrease and heal. While someone can recover some of their mobility, it’s very rare that they would gain back all of their motor function.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Damages
Because spinal cord injuries are so severe, there are a large number of damages that you could ask to recover. It’s up to the injured party’s lawyer to prove negligence on the part of the defendant, and then prove what damages you’ve suffered. This can include hospital bills, medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc.), future doctor visits, lost wages from missing work, and loss of future income from no longer being able to work at your previous job. They may even ask for future rehabilitation or moving expenses to a certain facility be covered. They would also seek recovery for pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and emotional distress. Recovering from a spinal cord injury after a car accident is difficult because so many aspects of your life can change. Money is one less thing to worry about when you have a lawyer with expertise in this area on your side.