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Accident Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Happen? Insight From the Best Spinal Cord Personal Injury Lawyers

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 years old or older. As older individuals age, they start to endure a variety of health problems that make them more prone to a slip and fall incident. This includes having poor posture, bad vision, slow reactions, or side effects to medication that make it difficult for them to move around properly. 
  • Being involved in a motor vehicle accident. This is the most common cause of 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 ability to control their arms or legs.
  • Sports activities. About 10 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by sports activities. A large portion of individuals who have a spinal cord injury due to a sports-related issue are children and teenagers. They may fall or suffer a forceful impact on 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 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 operating a vehicle. Intoxicated drivers may cause a severe motor vehicle collision that could result in a spinal cord injury. These individuals might also fall down often since they are incapable of properly walking and seeing clearly. This will potentially result in a spinal cord injury depending on how hard their falls are. 
  • Illnesses. Individuals may face health problems that could result in a spinal cord injury. This includes osteoporosis, cancer, or inflammation in the spinal cord. 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 spinal cord. This will cause them to have weak muscles, lose feeling in certain body parts, or have the incapability of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. 

Risks 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, there are far more men that have suffered from a spinal cord injury compared to women. About 20 percent of women have experienced a traumatic spinal cord injury. This leaves nearly 80 percent of men as victims of spinal cord injury.
  • 65 years or older. As individuals age, they tend to have several issues with their body. Having all of these problems will increase their chances of enduring a slip or fall incident that can result in a spinal cord injury. 
  • 16 to 30 years old. Nearly 48 percent of individuals within this age range have sustained a spinal cord injury due to reckless behaviors. This includes diving into a shallow pool or not wearing protective gear when playing a sports activity. Car accidents also play a major role. Since teenagers get their license at 16 years old, they could potentially exhibit negligent behavior when driving the car, thus resulting in 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 are aware of your surroundings when driving. You should be wearing your seatbelt each time you are operating your car. Do not allow your cellphone to distract you from keeping your eyes on the road. Also, do not drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. You are putting yourself and others around you at risk of an accident. 
  • Prevent falls. Install handrails to your stairs to prevent you from falling down the stairs. You should also include safety gates to block children from accessing the stairs without your supervision. Lastly, to avoid a slip or fall, place mats near the tub or shower. 
  • 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. 

Available Damages

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

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

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
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

Punitive Damages

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 are only incorporated in 5% 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.

Contact Us

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury and know who is at fault for causing it, West Coast Trial Lawyers has spinal cord injury attorneys that have extensive experience with handling personal injury cases. We will help you get financial and emotional compensation for damages resulting from your spinal cord injury. This includes medical bills, emotional distress, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are no financial risks involved when using our services. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. There are no fees charged until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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