spinal cord injuries

Did you recently suffer a spinal cord injury in a preventable accident that wasn’t your fault? If so, the path to recovery might seem daunting, filled with medical treatments, new limitations, and mounting expenses. Amid this turmoil, you might be wondering about your legal rights and whether you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries.

If someone else is responsible for your spine injury, you could have grounds to seek compensation in a spinal cord injury claim as part of your recovery journey. These claims are complex, multifaceted processes, but there’s no reason to handle yours alone. A Bakersfield spinal cord injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can demand accountability and the compensation you deserve.

What California Accidents Could Result in a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries can arise due to a variety of factors, often involving sudden, traumatic blows that fracture, dislocate, crush, or compress the vertebrae or the spinal cord itself. The extent of the damage can also vary considerably, depending on the force and direction of the injury.

Some common types of incidents and accidents that cause spinal cord injuries in California include the following:

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) vary greatly in severity and can manifest in different ways, based on the location (level) of the injury and whether the SCI is complete or incomplete. Following is a list of the most common effects and symptoms of various types and levels of SCI:

Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries

Cervical spinal cord injuries are the most severe type of SCI. Such an injury results from damage to the section of the spinal cord in the neck and affect the function of the arms, hands, trunk, and legs.

  • Complete Cervical SCI Symptoms – Quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs), inability to breathe independently, loss of bladder and bowel control, difficulty with balance and coordination.
  • Incomplete Cervical SCI Symptoms – Partial or complete loss of movement or sensation in the arms, hands, trunk, or legs, possible difficulty with balance and coordination.

Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries

Thoracic spinal cord injuries occur when the section of the spinal cord in the mid to upper back sustains damage. This affects the chest and the back itself.

  • Complete Thoracic SCI Symptoms – Paraplegia (lower body paralysis), including in the legs, with possible loss of trunk or abdominal muscle function leading to losses of balance and difficulties with bladder or bowel control.
  • Incomplete Thoracic SCI Symptoms – Possible trouble with balance and walking, partial or complete loss of sensation or movement below the level of the injury.

Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries

A lumbar spinal cord injury results from injuries that affect the spinal cord within the lower back. These injuries usually impair function in the hips and legs.

  • Complete Lumbar SCI Symptoms – Complete loss of movement or sensation in the hips and legs, loss of bladder and bowel control.
  • Incomplete Lumbar SCI Symptoms – Some loss of movement or sensation in the hips and legs.

Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries

These are the lowest-level spinal cord injuries that come from damage to the very bottom of the spinal cord. Sacral SCIs typically affect the groin, toes, and parts of the legs.

  • Complete Lumbar SCI Symptoms – Loss of movement or sensation in the legs, loss of bladder and bowel control, and possible sexual dysfunction.
  • Incomplete Lumbar SCI Symptoms – Some loss of movement or sensation in the hips and legs.

Across all levels of spinal cord injuries, the following symptoms are often present:

  • Loss of movement or decreased muscle strength.
  • Altered sensation, including the ability to feel touch, pain, heat, or cold.
  • Loss of voluntary bladder control or bowel movement.
  • Changes in sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility.
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing the lungs.
  • Chronic pain or intense stinging sensations.
  • Spasms or exaggerated reflex activities.
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination.
  • Changes in mood, emotional well-being, and mental health.

What Are the Treatment Options for a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injury treatment needs vary widely based on several factors, including the SCI’s location, the trauma’s severity, and the patient’s overall health. Medical professionals often prescribe the following types of treatments for SCI patients:

  • Emergency Care – If doctors suspect a spinal cord injury, they will take steps to prevent shock, immobilize the neck to prevent further damage, and ensure the patient can breathe.
  • Medications – Methylprednisolone, if given within eight hours of injury, can reduce swelling and prevent damage to nerve cells. Other medications can manage symptoms and complications.
  • Surgery – Surgical intervention might be necessary to remove bone fragments, foreign objects, a herniated disk, or fractured vertebrae that compress or destabilize the spine.
  • Rehabilitation – This could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation services to improve muscle strength, coordination, and range of motion.
  • Assistive Devices – Wheelchairs, braces, electronic aids for daily living, and other technologies help many SCI patients perform daily activities and maintain independence.
  • Mental Health Support – Therapy, counseling, and support groups can help individuals with SCIs and their families adjust to life after the injury and manage difficult mental health symptoms.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury?

If you recently suffered a spinal cord injury, you’re likely grappling with significant health challenges. You might be dealing with reduced mobility or total paralysis, changes in bodily functions, and possibly even difficulty breathing. Chronic pain and secondary health conditions like pressure ulcers and infections are also common concerns. Further, the impact on your mental health and emotional well-being can be staggering. Anxiety and depression rates are significantly higher among SCI patients.

The financial implications of an SCI can be equally overwhelming. From the costs of initial hospitalization and ongoing medical care to new expenses for rehabilitation services, assistive devices, and home accessibility modifications, your bills are likely mounting fast. Lost income due to reduced earning capacity or an inability to work only adds to this financial burden.

If you suffered an SCI in an accident that wasn’t your fault, remember that you have rights. With the help of a knowledgeable back and spine injury lawyer, you can seek compensation for the financial consequences of the SCI, as well as for non-economic losses like pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Bakersfield Spine Injury Lawsuit?

In California, victims of a spine injury caused by others can seek damages (money) for their losses through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. With a successful spine injury claim, you could recover money for the following types of SCI-related losses:

  • Past and future medical expenses related to your SCI treatment.
  • Incidental, out-of-pocket costs for things like medical travel.
  • Lost wages from time away from work due to the SCI.
  • Lost earning potential, if your SCI affects your working ability.
  • Subjective losses like pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Back Injury from a Bakersfield Car Accident?

It’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as an “average settlement” for personal injury claims, especially those involving spinal cord injuries. Each spinal cord and spine injury case is unique, with specific circumstances, losses, and parties involved. The value of a potential settlement or court award depends on many factors and can vary greatly from case to case.

Here are some examples of the factors that could affect the value of your unique SCI claim:

  • The severity and level of the spinal cord injury.
  • The long-term effects you suffer due to the SCI.
  • Who is liable for the incident that caused your SCI.
  • Whether more than one party shares liability.
  • Whether any parties dispute liability or other factors.
  • The value of SCI-related medical expenses you incur.
  • The value of income losses related to your SCI.
  • The projected value of lost lifetime earning capacity.
  • The extent of subjective losses like pain and suffering.
  • The available insurance policies and other coverage sources.
  • Your willingness to take your case to court if necessary.

How Our Bakersfield Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help

Legal representation is essential in SCI claims due to the complexity of these cases. Experienced lawyers understand the medical, legal, and insurance issues at play. They can accurately value your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, gather and present evidence, and represent you in court if necessary. Without a lawyer’s guidance, you might accept a settlement that doesn’t fully account for your damages or fail to identify all possible sources of compensation.

Our Bakersfield spinal cord injury attorney can help you in many ways, including by:

  • Evaluating the full extent of your current and future losses.
  • Gathering evidence to prove liability and losses.
  • Exploring all possible sources of compensation for your SCI case.
  • Dealing with insurance companies on your behalf.
  • Handling complex legal procedures and filing the necessary paperwork.
  • Demanding a fair settlement that fully compensates you for your losses.
  • Representing you in court if the other side won’t agree to a fair settlement.
  • Providing guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the process.