When You’ve Had a Spinal Cord Injury: Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of serious spinal cord damages stem from a personal injury. Often caused by car accidents, falls, or other traumatic impacts, spinal cord injuries are life-changing and long-term.

Victims of spinal cord injuries face expensive medical bills, extensive home and vehicle renovations to make their activities of daily living possible, and significant mental health treatment to adjust to the changes in their lives.

If you have sustained a spinal cord injury because of someone else’s negligence, you don’t have to go through these considerable adjustments yourself. The attorneys at Hershey Law are experienced and knowledgeable in what needs to be done in order to protect your rights and get you set financially so you can focus on healing.

It’s a scary, confusing time, but knowing the answers to these frequently asked questions will put you on track to recovery faster and with your rights intact.

The Numbers Behind Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries account for millions of visits to the emergency room in the United States every year. Almost half of these injuries occur due to accidental falls, but a large percentage are due to car accidents and other acts of negligence.

Treatment for spinal cord damage each year is estimated to be in the billions of dollars range. It takes a long time for these injuries to heal, and many times the injury is permanent.

While these facts and statistics are definitely scary, the good news is that it means that others have likely had the same injuries as you, leaving you a path to follow with answers to your questions.

FAQs About Spinal Cord Injuries and The Lawsuits That Follow

If you’re considering filing a lawsuit for your spinal cord injury, the following questions and answers may help you decide:

  1. Do spinal cord injury signs show up right away? A common misconception is that for an injury to be severe, it has to occur at the time of the incident that caused it. With spinal cord injuries, that’s not always true.

Sometimes the injury is evident right away, while other times you may not realize you are hurt for days or weeks. This is often because the body has its own ways of covering up damage while you are dealing with stress.

The problem with delayed symptoms is that the first 24 – 48 hours after an injury to the spinal cord is the most important time period for treatment. Whether you notice any pain or not, if you were in an accident, you should be seen by a medical professional immediately.

  1. What kinds of signs and symptoms indicate a spinal cord injury? You may notice typical signs of a spinal cord injury that include things such as:
  • Pain or pressure in your head, neck, or back area
  • Paralysis in any body part
  • Paresthesia, numbness, or tingling in your extremities
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Weakness or loss of coordination
  • Trouble with balance
  • Pain or other difficulty with walking
  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sexual dysfunction

If you have any of these symptoms or others that are not typical for you after an accident, speak to your physician as soon as possible. Don’t put off care because your pain is not severe, or your symptoms don’t match up with this list. Let your doctor decide if your problems are serious or not – that’s why they have the medical degree.

  1. Aren’t spinal cord injuries only severe if they result in paralysis? Another common misconception, this question often keeps victims of spinal cord damage from filing claims against their injurer.

The truth is that yes, spinal cord injuries can result in permanent damage that paralyzes you. But that’s not the only serious injury that can occur.

The spinal cord is your brain’s pathway for communication to your body, kind of like the internet on your computer. Paralysis happens when an injury to the spinal cord causes the brain to lose the ability to send messages along its typical route.

In other words, you lost connection to your ISP, and your internet isn’t sending your messages to their intended recipient. You may have a really bad signal, or you may have lost service completely.

Your computer still works, just not the way you want it to.

There are different levels of this disconnect in paralysis. Paraplegia happens when the damage to the spinal cord occurs to your thoracic spine. This usually results in your torso and legs becoming paralyzed. Quadriplegia is a result of a cervical spine injury to the spinal cord, paralyzing the victim completely from the neck down. Other types of paralysis can occur, depending on the place of spinal cord damage.

  1. What are some of the long-term effects from spinal cord injuries besides paralysis? While paralysis is often the first type of spinal cord injury people think of, it’s usually the rarest. There are many other types of injuries that occur from spinal cord damage, including:
  • Muscle damage, since the injured area does not work as it used to, and muscle dystrophy occurs
  • Sensation difficulties that occur because the nerves don’t function correctly, making it difficult for the injured person to feel pressure or temperature changes
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence if the brain is unable to send messages to these organs along the nervous system
  • Increased risk of circulatory trouble, such as blood pressure irregularity, blood clots, and pulmonary embolisms from immobility in certain body parts
  • Increased risk of respiratory trouble, such as pneumonia and other lung issues, due to damage to the muscles that control the respiratory system
  • Problems with sexual functioning
  • Significant mental health problems as the injured person and their loved ones attempt to cope with the new life they have been unexpectedly forced into

In addition to these difficult long-term physical and mental effects, the injured person must deal with transitioning into their old lifestyles with their new limitations. It’s not an easy assimilation, and it often costs them their jobs, relationships, and self-esteem.

  1. Do I need an attorney for my spinal cord injury? Many spinal cord injuries are temporary, and you can recover completely with the right medical care. Others, however, are more significant.

Regardless of the level of severity, you should speak to an attorney to ensure your rights are being protected.

  1. What compensation am I entitled to as a spinal cord injury victim? When a personal injury accident occurs, it’s usually because another party was negligent, and their negligence resulted in someone else’s suffering.

Spinal cord injuries are common results of these types of accidents, and the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hershey Law know exactly how to get you the compensation you are entitled to for your damages.

Compensation should cover more than just your medical expenses. You may be able to receive help that addresses such areas as:

  • Hospital bills
  • Emergency transportation
  • Surgical procedures
  • Rehabilitation and therapy
  • Doctor’s bills
  • Medication
  • Lost wages
  • Medical equipment and home renovations
  • Pain management
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental health therapy
  • Future loss of income
  • Property damage

Depending on your situation, some of these factors may not apply and others may. Speak to your attorney to find out exactly what types of compensation you may be entitled to.

  1. How long will my lawsuit take before I receive compensation? The goal of every personal injury case is to ultimately resolve it in a way that gives you as much compensation as possible. In some cases, this may happen quickly, within months. But in other cases, it could take anywhere from months to years.

It’s possible to settle quickly, but it may result in you accepting less than you deserve. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action and let you know the pros and cons of taking a settlement because you need the money now.

Some personal injury claims take longer because there is a lot of money at stake, which means you could be giving up the chance for significant compensation if you decide to settle early.

Other times, the claims take longer because there are legalities that must be cleared up and addressed, such as who is truly at fault and which insurance is responsible.

In just about every case where a personal injury is involved, the victim must be considered at “maximum medical improvement” by their physician before a settlement can be addressed. This can’t be rushed, and it’s not a delay tactic. It’s simply a necessity that has to occur in order for your attorney and the other party’s representation to know exactly how severe your injuries are.

Talk to an Attorney at Hershey Law About Your Spinal Cord Injury

Whether you have a simple case of whiplash or a significant spinal cord paralysis, you want someone knowledgeable to look out for your best interests. There are many ways for an insurance company to take advantage of you and multiple other red tape legalities that could cost you your ability to receive compensation.

Take care of yourself by making the first step in protecting your rights. Call or contact Hershey Law today to make an appointment for your free consultation.