The spinal column is one of the most vital parts of the human body. It is the main highway for the nervous system, and damage to it can cause a myriad of serious problems. Spinal cord injuries are not uncommon, especially in automobile accidents, but there are several other ways in which you can suffer from a spinal cord injury, including working on construction sites, playing football, and even living in a nursing home.
Damage to the spinal cord can leave a person paralyzed for the rest of their life, if they survive the accident in the first place. If you have been in an accident that caused injury to the spinal cord, then you should speak to a knowledgeable lawyer so that you can be compensated for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
How do spinal cord injuries happen?
There are many ways in which to sustain injuries to your spinal cord. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common sources for spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are automobile accidents, and slip and fall accidents. Other common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Car accidents. Automobile accidents are probably one of the most common ways of suffering from a SCI. Car accidents can cause the neck to be whipped back and forth severely, leading to whiplash and herniated disks.
- Truck accidents. Since semi-trucks are far larger and heavier than the normal automobile, crashes with them can lead to even more severe injuries to the spinal column. In 2019, there were more than 5,200 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes.
- Motorcycle accidents. With more of their body exposed to the elements and the road, motorcyclists are at high risk for injuries during automobile accidents. While some wear helmets that can help deter injuries, many motorcyclists do not, which can lead to brain, neck, and spinal injuries.
- Pedestrian accidents. Like motorcyclists, pedestrians have little protecting them from the elements of the road – even less so. If a car or truck hits a pedestrian, they are at the mercy of a very heavy, metal vehicle striking them at high speeds.
- Bicycle accidents. When drivers do not follow the rules of the road, it can lead to serious injuries, especially for the bicyclist.
- Construction accidents. Construction sites are often fraught with risk and danger. Helmets and harnesses and other protective gear are often used for this reason, along with specific safety guides for the construction site. However, serious falls and falling objects still cause thousands of injuries and deaths. In 2019, 1,061 worker fatalities were from construction sites, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Nursing home neglect. Nursing homes face a high rate of injuries due to elderly patients having more fragile and frail bodies, and to the high rate of falls. Even negligent staff (perhaps dropping the patient during transportation) and unsafe premises can lead to these falls.
- Sports-related incidents. Accidents from sport and recreational activities also take the lead in SCIs. Helmets and protective gear help to avoid these injuries, but every year, there are more than 3.5 million injuries reported.
What are common types of spinal cord injuries?
The spine is a complex part of the body with many small and complicated mechanisms that work together to make your body function properly. When one of these small (or large) mechanisms is injured, it can affect the entire spinal column (and your entire body) to malfunction. Common types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Whiplash. Being one of the most common types of injuries, especially in car accidents, whiplash is nothing to ignore. These usually occur when someone is rear-ended, but can happen in any situation where the neck is whipped or snapped back and forth aggressively. Symptoms of whiplash include headaches, dizziness, mood swings, depression, pain or numbness in the back, neck, and shoulders.
- Herniated disc. The vertebrae of the spine have small cushions that act as shock absorbers. These are called discs. While they have a tough exterior, their interior is jelly-like and soft. A herniated disc occurs when the inside of the disc spills out of a crack in the exterior, causing pressure on the surrounding nerves and nerve roots. A herniated disc can happen naturally with age, but also due to trauma. Symptoms of a herniated disc include: muscle weakness, radiating and sharp pain (or numbness and tingling) in the back, arms, and legs.
- Vertebral fractures. Vertebrae, like any other bone in the body, are susceptible to fractures. While often these fractures heal perfectly fine on their own with minimal treatment, they have the possibility of leading to serious conditions such as:
- Burst fractures, where the vertebrae is fractured in multiple places, and bone shards cause damage to the spine around the injury, possibly leading to paralysis and even death.
- Flexion/distraction fracture, when the vertebrae is torn apart. These injuries are usually seen in head-on collisions where the top half of the person is thrown forward, while the bottom half remains in place.
- Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs), usually associated with osteoporosis. VCFs happen when “the front of the vertebra to collapse while the back remains in positions resulting in a wedge shape.” High energy events such as sports and car accidents can lead to VCFs.
If any of these situations sound familiar, and you have experienced a spinal cord injury, then you should seek out the help of a Kennewick spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible so that you can secure compensation, not only for your pain and suffering, but for the financial loss you may experience. Spinal cord injuries can lead to you losing out on work, which means a loss of income as well as a loss of quality of life. Do not suffer more than you already are. Do not settle for less than you deserve.
At Telaré Law, we will put you first, and ensure that every aspect of the law is explored, and every fight is fought. If you would like to schedule an appointment at either our Kennewick or Richland offices, call us at 509-737-8500 or use our contact page. We also serve the Tri-Cities and all of Southeast Washington.