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Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer, Richmond VA
A healthy spinal cord is vital to enjoying a high quality of life. Along with the brain, the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system (CNS) in all mammals, who have the most complex nervous systems on the planet. Human beings have the single most advanced CNS. Without proper spinal cord function, the brain is unable to carry messages to the rest of the body through a complex network of nerve fibers. These messages are responsible for all of our motor, sensory, and autonomic functions. Because of this intricate, essential system, injuries to the spinal cord are often catastrophic.
At Cantor Grana Buckner & Bucci, we understand the devastating effect spinal cord injuries have on individuals and their families. That is why our legal team is committed to getting fair compensation for our clients who have suffered one of these terrible, life-changing injuries due to someone else’s negligence.
If you’ve suffered a debilitating injury to your spinal cord, contact our Richmond spinal cord injury attorneys today for a free consultation of your case. We will resolutely fight for your financial justice and peace of mind. If an insurance company refuses to provide you with the compensation you deserve, we’ll have the resources and skill to defeat that company in court.
Spinal Cord Function
The human adult spinal cord is about 18 inches long in men and 17 inches long in women, and runs from the brainstem to the lumbar region of the spine, or lower back. Thirty-one sets of nerves branch out from it to control all voluntary movement below the head. These nerves also control the sensory functions of touch, pressure, temperature and pain, and the autonomic functions which include heart rate, breath, temperature regulation, blood pressure, digestion, and urination.
Altogether, the spinal cord comprises four vertebral regions: the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral regions, or simply sacrum. Depending on the severity and where on the spinal cord an injury occurs determines the type of function loss and impairment.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a spinal cord injury, or SCI, is “damage to the tight bundle of cells and nerves that sends and receives signals from the brain to and from the rest of the body.”
SCIs are usually caused by sudden, traumatic blows to the spine, causing damage to the spinal cord itself, or the tissue and bones surrounding it. They can also be caused by gunshots and knife wounds.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there is an incidence of about 17,900 new SCIs per year. Approximately 296,000 people are living with an SCI in the United States. Men make up the vast majority of SCI cases at 78%, and the average age of injury is 43.
Healing from a Spinal Cord Injury
Although many parts of our body are able to heal over time with or without medical intervention, the spinal cord is a more complicated matter. The extensive nerve cells that make up the central nervous system are highly specialized, and they cannot divide and create new cells the way that other cells in our bodies do.
This means recovering from a traumatic brain injury or SCI is much more difficult.
While scientists have yet to figure out how to repair the CNS, many are optimistic that advances in research will one day make it possible. Research studies are happening all over the world to make this goal a reality. In the meantime, there are treatments and rehabilitation that can help victims of these injuries lead more fulfilling lives.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two types of spinal cord injury. They can be either complete or incomplete. Which type you have, and where it occurs, determines your ability to control your limbs.
Complete Spinal Cord Injury
If you have no sensation or ability to control movement below the area where the injury occurred, you have a complete injury.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
If you have some sensation and ability to control movement below the area where the injury occurred, you have an incomplete injury. Incomplete injuries vary by degree.
Paralysis Resulting from Spinal Cord Injury
Paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury can manifest two ways, as either paraplegia or tetraplegia.
Paraplegia affects only your lower body. Therefore, it may affect all or part of your trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, includes the upper part of your body. Therefore, it may affect all or part of your arms, trunk, legs, and internal organs.
Neurological Level of Injury and Paralysis
Neurological level of injury (NLI) refers to the most caudal (lowest) part of the spinal cord with intact sensation and motor function. This determines the type of paralysis you experience.
Someone with incomplete paraplegia retains some neural circuits between brain and body and has some degree of sensation and/or movement in the lower part of the body. The upper body is unaffected, and they have full use of their arms.
Among SCI victims, 19.9% have incomplete paraplegia. These injuries lead to the least severe form of paralysis.
In someone with complete paraplegia, the spinal cord has been completely severed, and they have no sensation or movement in the lower part of the body.
Among SCI victims, 19.6% have complete paraplegia.
Someone with incomplete tetraplegia retains some neural circuits between brain and body and has some degree of sensation and/or movement in both the upper and lower part of the body (all four limbs).
This is the most common neurological category, with 47.6% of people with SCIs having incomplete tetraplegia.
Someone with complete tetraplegia has no sensation or movement in both their upper and lower body. They have complete paralysis in all four limbs.
Only 12.3% of SCI victims have complete tetraplegia. This is the most severe version of paralysis.
People who have a normal or complete function in all four limbs make up only a scant .7% of SCI victims.
Spinal Cord Injury Causes and Risk Factors
Spinal cord injuries can result from many different types of accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of SCIs for people under the age of 65. Also noteworthy is the fact that spinal cord injuries do not strike all populations equally, unlike some other types of accidents or diseases. Certain factors may put you more at risk.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The most common causes of SCIs include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents – Car accidents and motorcycle accidents account for almost half of new SCIs every year.
- Falls – Most SCIs after the age of 65 are caused by falls.
- Acts of Violence – Sadly, the third most common cause of SCIs are acts of violence between people. These are most often gunshot wounds, followed by knife wounds.
- Diving Accidents – Another common cause of SCIs are diving accidents resulting from people diving into too-shallow water.
- Medical/Surgical Complications – Damage to the spinal cord can result from the adverse effects of medical, surgical, or diagnostic procedures and treatment. If it can be determined that the injury was due to negligence, this would be grounds for a medical malpractice suit.
Diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and inflammation can also damage the spinal cord. Ischemia caused by aortic aneurysms, atherosclerosis, neoplasia, sickle cell disease, or other factors can damage the anterior section of the spinal cord, resulting in anterior cord syndrome.
Regardless of the specific type of accident you’ve experienced, our experienced Richmond spinal cord injury lawyers can help you if it was the result of someone else’s negligence. Some examples of circumstances where a liable party may cause or contribute to a traumatic SCI include:
- Car accidents, truck accidents, or motorcycle accidents, if one of the parties was negligent
- Unsafe premises leading to a slip and fall accident
- Defective and unsafe products or equipment causing injury
- Nursing home abuse leading to injury
There are numerous other instances when a negligent party might be responsible for an SCI. A spinal injury can greatly affect your life forever.
If you’ve been the victim of an SCI, contact the personal injury attorneys at Cantor, Grana, Buckner, & Bucci today. We will review your spinal cord injury case free of charge and provide you with honest feedback about your legal options.
If you choose to pursue your case, our lawyers will work diligently to ensure the responsible party is held accountable, and that you receive the compensation you deserve. If your case should go to trial, we’ll be well equipped to help you win.
Risk Factors for Spinal Injuries
While anyone can be the victim of a spinal injury, certain factors may put you at greater risk. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, these factors include the following:
- Being a male – Men make up over 78% of SCI victims.
- Being between the ages of 16 and 30 – This age group accounts for the highest rates of SCIs, at over 38%.
- High-risk behavior – Playing sports without proper safety equipment, speeding while driving or driving intoxicated, and many recreational activities such as bungee jumping, jet-skiing, hang gliding, diving, and ATV riding carry a higher risk of SCI.
- Alcohol use – alcohol is a factor in about 25% of spinal injuries.
- Profession – certain types of work carry a higher risk of SCI, in particular construction work. An Australian study found that 50% of workplace spinal cord injuries occurred in the construction industry. These are usually due to falls from ladders, scaffolding, or other heights.
Consequences and Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are indisputably one of the most devastating and life-altering of medical diagnoses. Numerous aspects of a person’s life are instantly changed when a spinal cord injury occurs. Some consequences of the SCI are immediate, while others may develop over time. Some long-term effects are:
- Impaired muscle sensation
- Impaired sensory perception
- Impaired mental abilities
- Problems with bladder and bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction and loss of fertility
Victims of SCI are also predisposed to certain complications. Some of these include:
- Syringomyelia – the development of a fluid-filled cyst within the spinal cord
- Autonomic dysreflexia – a potentially deadly, abnormal overreaction of the autonomic nervous system that can result in increased heart rates, high blood pressure, and excessive sweating
- Neurogenic shock due to very low blood pressure
- Muscle spasticity or flaccidity (loss of muscle tone)
- Muscle atrophy and weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty regulating temperature
- Urologic and bowel complications
- Pressure injuries, a.k.a. bed sores
- Circulatory issues, including blood clots, DVTs, and pulmonary embolism
Damages You Can Claim for Your Spinal Cord Personal Injury Case in Richmond VA
Due to their severity, the costs of treating SCIs are often immense and continue to be significant throughout the victim’s lifetime. In addition to these medical expenses, the injured person may no longer be able to earn a living.
Your spinal cord personal injury claim entitles you to economic and non-economic damages to compensate for your financial burden and personal suffering. A seasoned spinal cord injury attorney at Cantor, Grana, Buckner, & Bucci is ready to provide legal counsel and advise you as to what you may be entitled to. Damages you could claim include the following:
- Medical bills – past and future medical expenses, including assistive devices
- Rehabilitation expenses – physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
- Lost wages and future earning potential
- In-home assistance – help with daily tasks, cooking, cleaning, transportation, childcare, etc.
- Home and vehicle modifications – necessary changes to accommodate your SCI disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Punitive damages – damages awarded to punish the responsible party in instances of egregious negligence or malicious intent
Wrongful Death Claims for Spinal Cord Injuries in Richmond VA
Tragically, approximately 10-20% of people who sustain a spinal cord injury do not survive. If your loved one lost their life because of an SCI resulting from someone else’s negligence, it is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel.
Our spinal cord injury lawyers understand how devastating this is to families both personally and financially, and we have extensive experience with wrongful death claims. While nothing can make up for the loss of your loved one, we will compassionately and gently guide you through your claim and secure justice on their behalf. You deserve to be compensated for your grievous loss.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Serving Richmond, VA
Individuals and families endure enormous suffering when spinal cord injuries occur. Medical bills should be the least of your concerns when you’re recovering from a catastrophic injury. This is why you need an experienced spinal injury attorney in your corner.
Whether you were injured in a car accident, fall, or due to medical malpractice, our tenacious spinal cord injury attorneys are ready to help you today to get the compensation you deserve.
The attorneys with Cantor, Grana, Buckner, & Bucci are experts in personal injury cases. The attorney-client relationship is personal to us. We fight for our injured clients, and we will make sure the negligent parties are held accountable in your spinal cord injury claim, so you can focus on recovery and rehabilitation. Contact us today for your free consultation.