Spinal Cord Injury | Paralyzed in a Crash

Our lawyers have won millions for clients who suffered paralysis.  In one of our cases, a man who was thought to have temporary paralysis never recovered. He is permanently paralyzed and needs a respirator. Our law firm won a multi-million-dollar settlement for this client and his wife.

Our client had an active, fulfilling life with his wife of many years before the incident. Although no amount of money can bring that back, the settlement provided them with the finances needed to get on with the rest of their lives and held those responsible accountable.” – Attorney Fred Pritzker

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Full Compensation if You Were Paralyzed in a Crash

Our job as your attorneys will be to get you full compensation if you were paralyzed in a crash. This means getting money for all expected future medical expenses, lost income and other losses. It also means getting pain and suffering compensation that gives you some sense of justice being done.

Lawsuit More Than about MoneyYour lawyer needs to aggressively pursue those responsible for your injuries, knowing that these are often multi-million-dollar cases. This is not a time to hire a lawyer because he or she seems nice. You need the best attorney you can find.

What are the Spine and Spinal Cord?

The spine, also referred to as the “backbone,” is not one bone, but several bones, called “vertebrae,” that extend from the back of the head down to the hips. Between these vertebrae are intervertebral disks that cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place.

The spinal cord provides structural support and protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a collection of densely packed nerves that come from the base of the brain and branch out to the rest of the body. The brain sends messages though the spinal cord that control motor function, sensory function and automatic function. The the vertebrae in the spine are commonly split up into five sections with each vertebrae being assigned a letter and number according to its location.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Nerves in the spinal cord send and receive messages from the brain. When the spinal cord is injured and it loses its ability to send and receive these messages, there is paralysis, either partial or total.

Attorney Inspecting Under Truck

Attorney Brendan Flahery inspects a truck that has been in a crash. He is on the Pritzker Hageman accident law team that recently won $5 million for a client who was severely injured when a delivery truck ran into him as he was riding his motorcycle.

There are four regions of the spinal cord:

  • the cervical region (C1 – C8), which is the upper part of the spinal cord in the neck;
  • the thoracic region (T1 to T12), which runs through the upper back;
  • the lumbar region (L1 – L5), which is in the mid-back region; and
  • the sacral region (S1 – S5), which is the lowest part of the spinal cord.

The coccygeal is the tailbone.

Damage to the spinal cord between C1 and C7 can result in quadriplegia (the total loss of all movement and sensation in all limbs), partial paralysis or death. Most fatal cervical spine injuries occur either at C1 or C2. Damage to the thoracic region can cause affect the arms and legs. Damage to the lumbar and sacral region can affect the legs.

Paralysis can happen when there is injury to the spinal cord, even if the vertebrae are not fractured.

Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury can be either complete or incomplete.  Either way, compensation for these injuries should include amounts for medical expenses, cost of care, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, loss of quality of life and other damages.

Unprotected Bike Lane on City Road

Spinal cord damage is a common injury in serious bicycle accidents.

Complete Spinal Cord Injury

A complete spinal cord injury is one in which there is a complete loss of motor and sensory function below the location of the injury (spinal lesion).  The result is paralysis:

  • Quadriplegia (tetraplegia) – involves loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs (arms and legs). Quadriplegia also affects the chest muscles and may require a mechanical breathing machine for the patient
  • Paraplegia – involves loss of movement and sensation in the lower half of the body (right and left legs)

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

With an incomplete spinal cord injury, some function remains below the spinal lesion. Unlike a complete spinal cord injury, an incomplete spinal cord injury may affect one side of the body more than the other.  For example, one arm may have more movement than the other.  An incomplete spinal cord injury can often be classified as one of three syndromes:

Anterior Cord Syndrome: Anterior spinal cord syndrome results from compression of the anterior spinal artery (the artery that runs along the front of the spinal cord). Some types of crude sensation are possible via the intact pathways in the posterior part of the spinal cord, but movement and more detailed sensation are lost.
Central Cord Syndrome: Central cord syndrome usually results from trauma to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord.  Symptoms may include paralysis and/or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands. Sensory loss below the spinal cord lesion and loss of bladder control are possible.
Brown-Sequard Syndrome: Brown-Sequard syndrome results from a neck or back injury on one side of the spinal cord.  A puncture wound, such as one made from crashing through a windshield during an accident, can be the cause.  Movement and some types of sensation are lost below the level of injury on the injured side. Pain and temperature sensation are lost on the side of the body opposite the injury.

What is Spinal Shock?

Sometimes trauma to the spinal cord results in a condition known as spinal shock, which may mimic a complete cord injury—one in which there is a complete loss of motor and sensory function below the level of the spinal injury (spinal lesion). The traumatic event causing spinal shock is usually a traffic accident, fall or sports injury.

It may take several hours after a traumatic spinal injury for spinal shock to progress. Although, by definition, spinal shock is not permanently complete, there may be permanent incomplete spinal cord injury.

In most cases, once some degree of motor and sensory function returns (usually from several days to six weeks), patients require substantial rehabilitation.

Types of Paralysis

Paralysis is the loss of muscle function in part of the body. It is caused when something inhibits the passage of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. The following are two types of paralysis:

  • Tetrapelegia (Quadrapeligia) is a type of paralysis caused by a neck or cervical injury and results in complete or incomplete paralysis of the upper body and lower body; and
  • Paraplegia is a type of paralysis caused by thoracic (chest or upper back), lumbar (lower back), or sacral injury and results in complete or incomplete paralysis in the lower body.

Can I Get Compensation for Rehabilitation Costs with a Lawsuit?

Yes, you can generally seek compensation for rehabilitation costs, including physical and occupational therapy, in a personal injury lawsuit. Some of these expenses will continue for an extended period of time, and these expected future expenses should also be part of a settlement computation.

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