Determining Spinal Cord Injury Severity and Paralysis
How Severe is Your Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis After an Accident?
There are many factors that determine the level of severity for paralysis. Getting an idea of how serious the injury is depends on what area of the spinal cord was damaged, along with knowing whether the injury is complete or incomplete.
The most common spinal cord injury occurs in the lumbar section. It has the least amount of structural support and experiences a lot of sprains. Furthermore, the injury may impact the individual’s hips and legs. Numbness is also another common result. The least common spinal cord injury is located in the thoracic section. If an individual does get a thoracic spinal cord injury, their muscles, mid-back, abdominal muscles, or upper chest may be affected.
When an individual experiences a spinal cord injury, they may suffer either complete or partial paralysis below their injury. This is primarily why the cervical area has more severe injuries, since it could affect a larger portion of the body compared to other spinal cord sections being damaged. The individual may also experience more intense after effects, such as impaired breathing and paralysis.
A spinal cord injury that involves paralysis usually occurs from:
- Motor vehicle accidents,
- Physical violence,
- Diving accidents,
- Surgical error,
- Sports accidents,
- Bicycle accidents, or
- Pedestrian accidents.
Generally, the lumbar or thoracic spinal cord sections get injured when an individual experiences direct and intense contact to their back. If you are suffering from an injury relating to one of these areas, you may potentially get diagnosed with paraplegia. Paraplegia is defined as having paralysis from the waist down. Several factors may contribute to the cause of injury for paraplegia. This includes:
- Autoimmune disorders,
- Oxygen deprivation,
- Spinal cord disorders,
- Genetic disorders, or
- Infections located in the brain or spinal cord.
If the individual suffers an injury and immediately calls 911 to have paramedics transport them to the hospital, then they will most likely be provided with a neck brace for stabilization. The medics will also use special equipment and a backboard to transfer the individual to the hospital for treatment. Once the individual is at the hospital, the doctor(s) will evaluate their condition to determine a proper diagnosis for the injury. Below are common tests that are used to find a diagnosis:
- X-rays. These are used to generate images of the patient’s tissues and structures inside their body. This test is used to determine if the patient is suffering any bone fractures, tumors, abnormal masses, foreign objects, dental problems, pneumonia, and so on.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is used to create detailed, three-dimensional anatomical images. MRI is typically used to monitor a patient’s treatment, determine a diagnosis, or find any diseases lurking in the body.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. This is used to conduct a variety of cross-sectional images of the patient’s body that will then be combined to form a three dimensional X-ray image. CT scans are more detailed than X-rays. They give doctors access to view the patient’s body structure from different angles.
- Neurological testing. This is used to test the patient’s vision, balance, coordination, hearing, speech, motor skills, and sensory skills. It may also test the patient’s mood, behavior, and mental status.
- Surgery. After getting results on the critical status of the spinal cord injury, the doctor will determine whether or not surgery is necessary. It usually is administered if the patient’s spinal cord needs to be decompressed or stabilized.
- Rehabilitation. Your doctor may direct you to a rehabilitation center to continue getting treatment for your spinal cord injury. The therapists at this center will help you reach your goals on what you plan to achieve while you are there. This includes:
- Gaining back your mobility and independence,
- Decreasing any pain or discomfort you have been experiencing from the injury, and
- Assisting you with relearning how to perform everyday activities.
Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.
Limitations for Damages in California
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.
However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you are a victim of a spinal cord injury due to the negligent behavior of another individual, West Coast Trial Lawyers has spinal cord injury attorneys that have extensive experience with handling personal injury cases. Our attorneys are determined to get you the maximum financial and emotional compensation you deserve for your losses. This includes medical expenses, emotional distress, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
No fees will be charged until your case has been settled. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. Reach out to our friendly legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].