Accident Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
What Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Injuries and How Can You Prevent Them?
A spinal cord injury is caused by damage done to the ligaments, vertebrae, or disks located in the spinal column or cord. Individuals may suffer from a spinal cord injury by:
- Falling. About 31 percent of spinal cord injuries occur because of a fall. This primarily applies towards individuals who are 65 or older. As people age, they start to face a variety of health problems that make them more prone to a slip and fall accident. This includes having poor posture, bad vision, slow reactions, or side effects to medication that make it difficult for them to move around properly.
- Motor vehicle accident. This is the most common cause of a spinal cord injury. 38 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. This may result in paralysis that could have a detrimental impact on the muscles and nerves below the injury.
- Physical violence. Nearly 13 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by physical violence. Generally, gunshots or knife stabbings play a factor in causing this injury. Depending on the level of severity, the individual may face either temporary or permanent paralysis. Physical therapy is required to help the individual regain the ability to control their arms or legs.
- Sports. About 10 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by playing sports. A large portion of individuals who have a spinal cord injury due to sports-related activities are children and teenagers. They may endure a forceful impact to the back that could damage the spine. Paralysis is expected if the individual had severe contact with the ground or a hard object. Sports that commonly have spinal cord injury cases include diving, football, hockey, and skiing.
- Alcohol. An individual who is under the influence of alcohol could get themselves into a serious accident, especially when they are driving a vehicle. Intoxicated drivers may cause a severe motor vehicle collision that could result in a spinal cord injury. They may also fall down more often than usual since they are incapable of properly walking and seeing things clearly.
- Illnesses. Individuals may be diagnosed with health problems that could result in a spinal cord injury. This includes osteoporosis, cancer, or inflammation in the spine. For elders, osteoporosis is a serious bone thinning condition. About 80 percent of older individuals suffer from chronic spinal cord injury from having this illness. They are more prone to experiencing a spinal cord injury if they fall, regardless of how severe the impact is. Now, with cancer, individuals may inherit a spinal cord tumor in or near their spine. This will cause them to have weaker muscles, lose feeling in certain parts of their body, or have the incapability of controlling their bladder or bowel movements.
Risk Factors of Experiencing a Spinal Cord Injury
Even though a spinal cord injury could be triggered by an illness, accident, or violence, other factors may increase your chances of having it. This includes:
- Being a male. In the United States, 80 percent of men have suffered from a spinal cord injury.
- 65 years or older. As people age, they start to progressively experience a lot of issues with their bodies. Having all of these problems can make it more likely for them to have a slip and fall accident that can damage their spine.
- 16 to 30 years old. Nearly 48 percent of individuals within this age demographic have sustained a spinal cord injury due to reckless behaviors. This includes diving into a shallow pool or not wearing protective gear when performing a sports-related activity. Car accidents can also play a major role. Since teenagers typically get their driver’s license by the age of 16, they do not have enough experience with driving a car. Lack of knowledge or experience can make it more likely for them to get into a car accident.
- Bone or joint disorder. If you have a disorder that affects your bones, you are prone to getting a spinal cord injury. This includes having arthritis or osteoporosis.
To avoid the risk factors of a spinal cord injury, you must:
- Drive safely. Make sure you always wear your seat belt and are aware of your surroundings when driving. Do not allow your cellphone to distract you from keeping your eyes on the road. Also, do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You are putting yourself and others around you at risk.
- Prevent falls. You should install handrails to your stairs. This will help reduce the likelihood of any falls from happening. You should also include safety gates to block children from accessing the stairs without adult supervision. Lastly, to avoid a slip or fall accident, you should place mats near the tub or shower. This will prevent water from spreading all over the floor.
- Wear protective gear when playing sports. It is important to wear safety gear, especially for sports that involve a lot of physical contact, such as football.
- Check the water levels before jumping into the pool. Make sure you do not dive in shallow water. Always test out the waters before jumping in.
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.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury due to another individual’s negligence, West Coast Trial Lawyers has spinal cord injury attorneys who will help you get financial and emotional compensation for your losses. This includes medical bills, emotional distress, property damage, lost wages, 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].