NYC Car Accident Spine Injury Lawyer
Car accidents are one of the top causes of spinal cord injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that car accidents account for 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) can be a complete injury or a partial injury. Because the spinal cord is the nerve center for the entire body and controls sensation and mobility, a complete spinal cord injury causes total paralysis and loss of feeling/sensation below the area of the body where the injury happened.
For example, if the spine is damaged near the neck, the victim would lose mobility and sensation in the trunk (chest and torso) and in all four limbs. This is called “quadriplegia” or “tetraplegia.” If the injury occurs below the level of the shoulders, chest and arms, however, then the victim would lose sensation and movement only in the pelvic region and below, including the legs. This would result in paraplegia.
Not all spinal cord injuries are complete injuries. In some cases, the damage does not totally destroy the nerve connections and pathways from the spine to the brain. The injured person also retains some sensation and/or movement in various parts of the body.
The extent of damage done by a partial spinal cord injury depends on how bad the injury is and where along the spine the injury happened.
Some types of partial spinal cord injury include:
- Contusions on the spine — Contusions are bruises along the spinal cord. They are typically temporary but they can do far more damage than just a normal bruise. Because contusions can cause bleeding and inflammation, the area surrounding the contusions can become debilitated, at least temporarily.
- Damage to nerve cells along the spine — If someone experiences an isolated injury to a small number of nerve cells on the spine, then only the parts of the body that receive sensory and motor function directly from those nerve cells will be affected.
- Central Spinal Cord Syndrome — If the spine is damaged in the cervical area in the center spine, then this is referred to as central cord syndrome. Typically, one particular pathway called the corticospinal tract is damaged in those with central spinal cord syndrome. Weakness and limited ability to experience sensation can result. Paralysis is possible for those with central spinal cord syndrome.
- Brown-Sequard syndrome — When only the left or right side of the spine is damaged, the condition is called Brown-Sequard syndrome. Victims retain the ability to move the side of the body not affected by the injury but become paralyzed on the other side of the body. Because the pathways relaying information about pain and temperature cross both sides of the spine, victims lose these sensations in the entire body below the area of the injury. Thus, while a patient may still be able to move half of the body, they won’t feel pain or sense temperature anywhere below the injury site.
- Anterior cord syndrome — If the sensory and motor pathways that information travels along to the brain are lost in the anterior of the spinal cord, then anterior cord syndrome can develop. Patients lose both sensation and mobility as a result of anterior cord syndrome. If any pathways are not affected, however, then there may be some limited sensation remaining in the body parts served by those affected pathways.
In many cases, it is difficult or even impossible to determine whether a spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete or to diagnose specifically the level of impairment someone will face, for several weeks after the injury. This is because injuries to the spinal cord cause a great deal of swelling and bleeding, making it difficult to assess which injuries are permanent and which impairments will go away when the swelling goes down and the bleeding stops.
Because of the challenge of diagnosis, you should not settle spinal cord injury claims after a car accident until you know the full extent of all injuries you suffered.
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries that cause loss of movement or sensation are often serious enough that victims can recover compensation beyond what is available under New York’s no-fault rules. After a car accident that causes serious injury, the party responsible for causing the accident can be sued or otherwise held liable through an out-of-court negotiation of a settlement.
It is essential that you get fair compensation due to the astronomical costs of treating many spinal cord injuries. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that if someone becomes paralyzed due to spinal cord injury at age 25, the cost of lifetime care could range from $1.5 million to $4.5 million.
If you’ve suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a car accident in New York, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable injury attorney to protect your rights. The compassionate lawyers at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., are experienced at handling car accident claims involving spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Contact us today.