More than 11,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury every year in the United States, with many experiencing severe chronic pain, paralysis and death.
The spinal cord is the major group of nerves carrying impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. Rings of bone, called vertebrae, surround the spinal cord. These bones constitute the spinal column or backbones.
Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself.
A traumatic spinal cord injury may result from a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more vertebrae. It can also result from a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts the spinal cord.
There are two types of spinal cord injury: 1) complete, and 2) incomplete. In a complete injury, a person loses all ability to feel and voluntarily move below the level of the injury. In an incomplete injury, there is some functioning below the level of the injury.
Additionally, injuries can cause weakness or complete loss of muscle function and loss of control of the bowels and bladder, and loss of normal sexual function. Spinal cord injuries in the upper neck can cause difficulty breathing and may require the use of a breathing machine or ventilator.
Spinal cord damage results in a loss of function, such as mobility or feeling. Spinal cord injury is not the same as back injury, which may result from pinched nerves or ruptured disks.
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents – account for more than 40 percent of spinal cord injuries every year
- Falls – cause more than one-quarter of spinal cord injuries
- Acts of violence – account for approximately 15 percent of injuries
- Sports – such as athletic activities, diving, cause about 8 percent of spinal cord injuries
- Diseases – arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer and inflammation of the spinal cord cause injuries
- Alcohol – is a factor in about one out of every four spinal cord injuries
In many cases, the injury is the fault of another, whether the driver of a motor vehicle, a defective product or a neglected or hazardous property. When such a problem exists, the victim of a spinal cord injury may have a legal claim.
The San Bernardino personal injury law offices of Welebir Tierney & Weck have broad expertise and experience in pursuing such claims. If you or someone you know has suffered a spinal cord injury,contact us today to discuss your situation.