McAllen Spinal Cord Injuries Attorneys
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 well-being. 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 one’s mind. In some cases, these injuries may be treated or managed through extensive treatment and rehabilitation programs, but this process can prove very expensive.
However, personal injury law allows victims including scarring injuries caused by other people to seek compensation to cover these medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. McAllen residents can turn to the compassionate yet tenacious McAllen Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers of Patino Law Firm, for help with fighting for the full, generous financial compensation they deserve.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury Accidents
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 attorney to discuss your potential legal recovery 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 and is encased within the bony vertebra of the spine. The spinal cord 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 site of the injury.
Spinal injuries are often referred to as either 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, and a complete spinal cord injury indicates that all sensation and function below the site of the injury 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. Those 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: The thoracic region of the spinal cord is located in the upper back. This region of the spinal cord sends messages to the muscles in the chest, back, and abdomen.
- Lumbar: Located in the middle of the back is the lumbar region, which controls the messaging from the brain to the lower abdomen, lower back, hips, and portions of the legs.
- Sacral: Located 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 occur in injuries to the cervical region, paralyzing much of the entire body from the neck down.
Common Causes of McAllen Spinal Cord Injuries
More than 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 are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for more than 38 percent.
- Falls, either from elevated height or the same level, account for slightly more than 30 percent of all new spinal cord injuries.
- 13.5 percent of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. are the result of violence, making that another major contributor to new spinal cord injuries.
- Sports-related accidents experienced in high impact sports or recreational activities account for 8.9 percent of spinal cord injuries, with diving accidents causing two-thirds of the accidents caused by sports or recreation.
- 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. This increase in average age is generally believed to be associated with increasingly active lifestyles being led by 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 due to the inability to expel excretions from the lungs through coughing. Many individuals with an injury in the cervical (neck) region of the spine 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. While the body will continue to store bladder in the kidneys, 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 the message to the bowel when the body needs to defecate.
- Loss of skin sensation, which can result in the body being unable to tell if it is 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 is exerting too much pressure on one part of the body. This condition carries an increased risk of infection.
- Changes in circulatory control, which can result 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, which 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 the sexual function in both men and women, with men often experiencing changes in erection and ejaculation and women experiencing changes in 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 his or her life change completely. He or she may not walk or live independently, work in the same career, enjoy the same activities, or perform daily activities without the need for assistance with personal care. All of these are major changes that are hard for many to adapt to. Mental health services are an important component of the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
The Costs of Living With a McAllen Spinal Cord Injury
Because of their complexity, spinal cord injuries can be extremely expensive. Immediately after a spinal cord injury, the average hospital stay 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 year to follow. 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. Those who suffer the same injury at 50 years old could have to deal with costs that exceed $2.5 million during their lifetimes. Those who retain some motor function after experiencing a spinal cord injury at 25 may still have to pay more than $1.5 million for the treatment of their injury through life, while those who experience the injury at the age of 50 could have lifetime injury-related costs of around $1.1 million.
These figures represent the costs of injury-related medical treatment and living expenses alone, and do not 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 who are living with a spinal cord injury are two to five times more likely to experience a 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 is only six or seven years lower than those without a spinal cord injury. However, those who suffer paraplegia or tetraplegia as a result of their injury have a life expectancy between 15 and 40 years lower than those who have not.
Let the Patino Law Firm Help With Your McAllen Spinal Cord Injury
If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in McAllen, or elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley, caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you may have the option to pursue compensation for the expenses and impacts your injury has caused.
A McAllen spinal cord lawyer will seek to prove two things, liability and expenses.
Liability is proven by showing the following elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on the activity that 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 was caused by another driver, the duty of care that the other driver owed to you would have been to drive his or her motor vehicle safely and lawfully.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions the at-fault party took that was 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, which 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 our McAllen spinal cord injury lawyers at Patino Law Firm online or by calling (956) 255-0023.