Car crashes are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries. Since most crashes are caused by driver negligence, there have been countless injury claims filed over car crash spinal cord injuries.
You may think it would be helpful to determine the average value of these types of claims if you are trying to determine what your claim may be worth. However, it is important to remember there are so many types of spinal cord injuries and many factors that impact the value of an injury claim. No two cases are precisely the same.
An average value is essentially just a number, it does not say much about what your claim may be worth. Below, our experienced Harrisburg-based vehicle crash lawyers discuss the many factors that play into the value of a car crash spinal cord injury claim.
Those who suffered catastrophic injuries often need significant compensation to help them move forward with their lives. Insurance companies consistently undervalue claims, no matter how severely the victim may be hurt.
You need an experienced advocate fighting for full compensation. At Schmidt Kramer, that is what we are prepared to do, and we have been securing compensation for our clients for over 30 years.
Types of Car Crash Spinal Cord Injuries
Auto accidents can cause severe trauma to the bones, nerves and soft tissues that make up the spinal cord. This can result in a wide variety of injuries that could range from short-term and temporarily incapacitating to permanent and seriously debilitating.
These are the most serious spinal cord injuries, as they can damage nerves and cause permanent paralysis or even death. The severity of the injury often depends on the location of the fracture and how widespread the damage is.
For example, a fracture to the cervical region of the spine can result in permanent paralysis from the neck down, with some victims needing a ventilator to breathe. Damage to the C1 vertebrae is the most serious cervical spinal cord injury. However, an injury to the C2-C7 vertebrae can be quite severe as well, as victims may be left with quadriplegia, which is impairment in all four limbs.
Burst fractures are common in car crashes – severe trauma can fracture the vertebrae in multiple places, crushing it. This can cause severe spinal cord injury. Flexion-distraction fractures may happen if your body gets pushed forward in the crash. Sudden forward movement puts incredible stress on your spine, which could cause a fracture. Burst and flexion-distraction fractures could result in a dislocation.
The severity of the injury often depends on whether damage to the vertebrae is accompanied by damage to nerves and surrounding tissues. Sometimes a fracture to the cervical region can cause bone fragments to pinch or otherwise damage surrounding nerves that branch into the spinal cord.
Some victims may not experience paralysis, but they may have severe pain that gets worse with movement. They may also experience weakness, muscle spasms, numbness and weakness.
The other sections of the spinal cord include:
- Thoracic – These injures are to the upper and middle back and victims may have damage in their chest and abdomen.
- Lumbar – This is the lower back, and injuries to this region may cause problems with the hips and legs. Victims may struggle to stand and/or walk.
- Sacral – This is right above the tailbone. Victims may experience problems with the hips, thighs, buttocks and pelvis.
Regardless of the location of the injury, it can be classified as either complete or incomplete. An incomplete injury means there was only partial damage to the affected area. Victims may experience some paralysis, or they may only have some numbness and pain. They may have more weakness or impaired function on one side of the body compared to the other.
However, a complete injury results in a complete loss of feeling, sensation and motor control below the site of the injury. This could mean impairment of all four limbs, depending the site of the injury.
In addition to paralysis, these injuries often include other symptoms like:
- Lost bowel control
- Lost bladder control
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent cough
- Trouble clearing secretions from lungs
- Impaired sexual function including lower fertility
- Trouble feeling heat or cold, which can make it easier to overheat
Herniated Disc Injuries
The bones of the spinal cord sit between rubbery cushions called discs. The discs have a jellylike center and rubbery exterior. When the center pushes through the exterior, the victim has a herniated disc. This typically happens in the lower back and can cause weakness, pain and numbness in the arms and/or legs.
You may feel radiating numbness or tingling in body parts affected by the nerve that has been compressed. Pain may also be felt in the buttocks, thigh and calf. There may be foot pain as well.
Herniated discs may also affect your ability to hold items, lift things or walk steadily. A herniated disc may cause you to stumble.
While some do not experience symptoms from a herniated disc, others might if it compresses a nerve. However, surgery is often not necessary to fix the problem.
Evaluating a Claim for a Spinal Cord Injury
One of the most important considerations is the severity of the injury. The more severe the injury, the more changes the victim may need to make to his or her daily lift to accommodate the injury.
For example, paralysis can limit the victim to a wheelchair. Even if the victim does not have significant paralysis, there may be limited mobility which may require the use of an assistive device, like a cane, forearm crutches or walker.
Victims may need ongoing physical therapy to deal with pain and other symptoms of their injuries. There are a variety of medications that may be helpful for dealing with pain or other issues that may arise because of the injury.
The victim and his or her family may need to make significant modifications to the home. For example, hallways may need to be widened, bathrooms may need to be remodeled a ramp may need to be installed at the front door. The victim may also need a new vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair. Hand controls may need to be installed because the victim cannot use his or her legs for the pedals.
The victim may be unable to work in the field he or she was working in before the injury. That means the victim may need to make a career change if he or she is still able to work. This affects the victim’s earning capacity, and fringe benefits of employment such as retirement plan contributions and other benefits.
Your attorney needs to consider your work history, skills and education to determine the value of your loss of earning capacity from your injuries.
The value of your claim is also affected by treatment immediately after the injury, such as surgery, hospital stays, medical imaging (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc.), transportation to the hospital, doctor’s appointments, etc.
Was Your Injury Caused by Negligence? Call for Legal Assistance
One of the most important steps you can take after a serious injury is contacting an attorney to help you seek compensation. While compensation cannot undo what happened, it is vital to your efforts to move forward with your life.
Compensation allows victims to obtain the medical treatment they need and make changes to their lives to accommodate the challenges created by their injury.
At Schmidt Kramer, there are no upfront fees or legal obligations with our services.
We are here to help. Call (717) 727-1837 today.