The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that attach nearly every part of the body to the brain. When the spinal cord becomes damaged, the body’s ability to function properly is compromised. A spinal cord injury can be loosely defined to mean any damage to the spinal column and connected nerve tissues.
The symptoms and specific injuries that you will encounter after a spinal cord injury will depend on which part of your spinal cord is affected. In most cases, the part of the body below the level of injury will be affected. As a result, injuries higher on the spinal column affect larger portions of the body.
The spinal cord is divided into four distinct regions:
Cervical injuries: The cervical spine is located at the very top of the spinal cord, forming the primary connection between the spinal column and brain. The cervical spine is responsible for communication with the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and torso. Cervical injuries can affect any region of the body below the level of injury. In many cases, cervical injuries result in quadriplegia (paralysis of both arms and legs).
Thoracic injuries: The thoracic spine is located just below the cervical spine. Since it is protected by the rib cage, injuries to the thoracic spine are less common. The thoracic spine is responsible for communication with the lower back and lower torso. Injuries to the thoracic spine can result in paralysis of the lower part of the body.
Lumbar injuries: The lumbar spine is located beneath the cervical region near the bottom of the spinal cord. It is primarily responsible for communication with the genitals, buttocks, abdomen and some parts of the legs. Injuries to the lumbar spine can result in paraplegia (paralysis of the legs).
Sacral injuries: The sacral spine is located beneath the lumbar region at the base of the spinal column. It is responsible for communication with the legs, feet and genitals. Injuries to the sacral spine can result in paraplegia and sexual dysfunction.
The spinal cord is responsible for most of our major bodily functions. When the spinal cord cannot effectively communicate directions from the brain, our bodies cannot work properly. If you experience any of the following symptoms after an accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately:
Have you experienced any of these symptoms? They may indicate that you have suffered a spinal cord injury. Seek medical attention and contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at 949-675-5060 as soon as you can.
Injuries to the spinal cord can be devastating. Victims may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, suffer from chronic pain for the rest of their lives and be faced with a life-long disability. The consequences of a spinal cord injury can be financially, physically and emotionally draining. In California, spinal cord accident victims may be entitled to compensation if another person is responsible for their injury. Compensation is typically paid through an award of compensatory and noneconomic damages.
Compensatory damages (also known as economic damages) are awarded to spinal cord injury victims to help with the financial costs that are related to their accident and injury. Damages can be awarded to compensate for any actual or reasonably anticipated expenses. Examples of compensatory damages can include:
Noneconomic damages are awarded to spinal cord injury victims to compensate for injuries that may not have a specific monetary value. These injuries can be difficult to value and, as a result, can vary significantly from case-to-case. Examples of noneconomic damages can include:
If you have suffered an injury to your spinal column, it is important to speak with an attorney immediately. California limits the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages. If you do not file a claim within two years of the date of your accident, you will be prohibited from getting the money you need to recover.
There are limited situations when the statute of limitations can be extended. If any of the following extenuating circumstances apply, you may be able to file a claim more than two years after your accident:
In some cases, Orange County or a local city government agency will be (at least partly) responsible for your spinal cord injury. In order to recover damages from the government, you must file an administrative claim with the at-fault agency within 180 days of your accident. If the government denies your request for damages, you will have six months to file a formal civil complaint in an Orange County court. Call the Law Offices of John Rapillo at 949-675-5060 today for a free consultation to learn more about spinal cord injury claims. You may also reach out to us online.
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