McAllen Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most traumatic injuries a person can suffer, as they can have catastrophic consequences for a person’s physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. Not only can these injuries result in permanent disabilities that can drastically alter a person’s lifestyle and future wage-earning opportunities, but they can cause a frustrating loss of independence that can weigh heavily on your mind. In some cases, these injuries may be treated or managed through extensive treatment and rehabilitation programs, but the process can be costly.
Personal injury law allows victims, including those with scarring injuries caused by other people, to seek compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. McAllen residents can rely on the compassionate and hard-working McAllen spinal cord injury lawyers at Patino Law Firm for help with fighting for the maximum financial compensation they deserve.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in McAllen
Our experienced McAllen spinal cord injury attorneys have compiled a list of the most common accidents that lead to spinal cord injuries:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Work-related injuries
- Premises liability accidents
After spinal cord damages or any injuries from any of the above accidents, consider speaking to an experienced spinal cord injury attorney to discuss your potential legal options.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist area, encased within the bony vertebra of the spine. It operates as a message center, delivering impulses from the brain that control the function of the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury refers to damage to this cord, causing loss of sensation and function beneath the injury site.
Spinal injuries are often referred to as incomplete or complete, depending on the amount of sensation and function remaining. An incomplete spinal cord injury means the sufferer retains some function beneath the injury site. A complete spinal cord injury indicates that all sensation and function below the injury site has been lost.
The loss of sensation and function suffered after a spinal cord injury is known as paralysis. Paraplegia is paralysis that affects all or part of the body’s trunk, legs, and pelvic region. Tetraplegia — also known as quadriplegia — affects sensation and function in the shoulders, arms, hands, chest, trunk, pelvis, and legs.
The spine is made up of segments, and each one controls the messaging to different areas of the body. These segments and the portion of the body they control include:
- Cervical: The cervical region of the spinal cord is located in the neck, and it controls signals to the hands, shoulders, back of the head, and diaphragm.
- Thoracic: This part of the spinal cord is in the upper back. It sends messages to the muscles in the chest, back, and abdomen.
- Lumbar: The lumbar region is located in the middle of the back and controls messaging from the brain to the lower abdomen, lower back, hips, and portions of the legs.
- Sacral: Just below the lumbar region is the sacral region, which controls signals to the thighs, knees, and feet.
The most significant impairments caused by spinal cord injuries happen in the cervical region, paralyzing much of the entire body from the neck down.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in McAllen
Around 90 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused either by preventable accidents or acts of violence.
Some of the ways these injuries occur include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for more than 38 percent.
- Falls: either from elevated height or the same level, falls account for slightly more than 30 percent of all new spinal cord injuries.
- Violence: 13.5 percent of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. result from violence, making this another major contributor to new spinal cord injuries.
- Sports-related accidents: experienced in high-impact sports or recreational activities, sports accidents account for 8.9 percent of spinal cord injuries, with diving accidents causing two-thirds of the accidents caused by sports or recreation.
- Others: The remaining injuries are caused by medical or surgical incidents, cancer, infection, or congenital issues.
Alcohol use is considered a factor in about one-quarter of all new spinal cord injuries.
Who Is Most Likely to Suffer a McAllen Spinal Cord Injury?
Between 243,000 and 347,000 people in the U.S. currently live with spinal cord injuries. While this type of injury can happen to any person of any age, spinal cord injuries are most often seen in men, with males making up around 80 percent of all new spinal cord injuries each year. The average age of injury onset in the U.S. is currently 42. This is a significant leap from the average age of 29 in 1970 and could be associated with the increasingly active lifestyles of those in middle age.
While white, non-Hispanic Americans make up roughly 63 percent of all new spinal cord injury cases, Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the injury. The country’s non-Hispanic Black population accounts for around 12 percent of the total population of the U.S. but accounts for 22 percent of new spinal cord injury cases.
Complications Associated with McAllen Spinal Cord Injuries
In addition to paralysis, spinal cord injuries often present serious complications throughout the sufferer’s life that require medical treatment.
Some of those complications include:
- Respiratory issues. These are due to the inability to expel excretions from the lungs through coughing. Many individuals with an injury in the spine’s cervical (neck) region suffer from problems with respiratory control. This is why pneumonia is the leading cause of premature death in individuals with spinal cord injuries.
- Changes in bladder control. The brain may have difficulty controlling the bladder, increasing the risk of bladder or kidney infections and bladder or kidney stones.
- Bowel control is also often impacted by a spinal cord injury, as the brain cannot send messages to the bowel when the body needs to defecate.
- Loss of skin sensation. This can mean the body cannot tell if it’s being subjected to hot or cold temperatures — increasing the risk of burns or cold-damaged skin. The risk of pressure ulcers also increases due to the loss of skin sensation. These are also known as bedsores and are caused by the inability to move or sense when a position exerts too much pressure on one part of the body.
- Changes in circulatory control, resulting in low blood pressure and swelling of the extremities. These circulatory problems also increase the risk of several life-threatening conditions, including deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs that can break free and travel to the lungs. A blood clot in the lung is known as a pulmonary embolism and is fatal without prompt and aggressive treatment.
- Changes to muscle tone, which can either appear as spasticity (an involuntary tightening of the muscles) or flaccidity (loss of muscle tone).
- Changes in sexual health. Spinal cord injuries impact sexual function in men and women, with men often experiencing erection and ejaculation issues and women having problems with lubrication. Additionally, spinal cord injury may cause fertility issues in both men and women.
- Changes in mental health. Depression is a common complication of spinal cord injuries as the injured person watches every facet of their life change entirely. They may no longer walk or live independently, work in the same career, enjoy the same activities, or do their usual daily tasks without having assistance.
The Costs of Living with a Spinal Cord Injury in McAllen
Because of their complexity, spinal cord injuries can be extremely expensive. The average length of a hospital stay immediately after a spinal cord injury is 11 days, followed by a stay at a rehabilitation facility for an average of 35 days.
A person who has suffered an injury to the cervical area of the spine and subsequent high tetraplegia may have to pay more than $1 million for the first year of their treatment and more than $184,000 a year on treatment and living expenses for each following year. On the other end of the scale, those who have suffered an incomplete loss of motor function at any level may face first-year treatment and living expenses of almost $350,000, with the cost ranging around $42,000 for each subsequent year.
Those who suffer a spinal cord injury that results in high tetraplegia at the age of 25 may face a lifetime of costs upwards of $4.7 million. People with the same injury at 50 years old could have to deal with costs that exceed $2.5 million during their lifetime. Patients who retain some motor function after experiencing a spinal cord injury at 25 may still have to pay more than $1.5 million to treat their injury throughout their life.
These figures represent the costs of injury-related medical treatment and living expenses alone. They don’t account for either the indirect costs of the injury (such as lost income) or the extraordinary impacts that this type of injury creates in all facets of the injured person’s life.
Life Expectancy after a McAllen Spinal Cord Injury
People living with a spinal cord injury are two to five times more likely to experience premature death as a result. The risk of mortality is at its highest in the first year after the injury occurred. The leading cause of death in individuals who have suffered a spinal cord injury is pneumonia, followed by septicemia.
As with most things related to this type of injury, the impact on life expectancy depends on the location and severity of the injury. Those who retain motor function have a life expectancy that’s only six or seven years lower than those without a spinal cord injury. But people who suffer paraplegia or tetraplegia due to their injury have a life expectancy between 15 and 40 years lower than those who do not.
Let Patino Law Firm Help with a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in McAllen
If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in McAllen or elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley that was caused by someone else’s careless actions, you may be entitled to compensation.
A McAllen spinal cord injury lawyer will seek to prove two things: liability and expenses. Liability is established by demonstrating the following:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This depends on the activity you were doing when the injury occurred and the at-fault party’s role in that activity. For example, if your spinal cord injury was the result of a car accident that another driver caused, the duty of care that the other driver owed to you would have been to drive their motor vehicle safely and lawfully.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. This refers to the actions the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care. Using the car accident scenario, say the other driver was driving drunk. The breach in this circumstance would be alcohol impairment because that is contrary to the duty to drive safely and lawfully.
- The breach resulted in the accident that caused your spinal cord injury and subsequent expenses and impacts.
Some of the damages you may seek in a McAllen spinal cord lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses related to the injury and its complications.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity if the injury makes you unable to work.
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of the enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium, to name a few.
To learn more about the legal process of obtaining compensation after suffering a spinal cord injury and for a free case evaluation, contact the McAllen spinal cord injury attorneys at Patino Law Firm online or by calling (956) 255-0023.