Spinal Cord Injuries
Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable motorists on the roadways. Even when wearing a helmet, a motorcyclist has less protection than the occupants of the smallest, lightest automobile on the road. In collisions with other motor vehicles, the motorcycle always loses, and the injuries to the motorcyclist can be catastrophic. If you have sustained an injury in a motorcycle accident, you should consult with an experienced accident attorney, particularly if you have suffered a spinal cord injury. The long-term effects and costs of such an injury can be devastating, both to your health and to your finances.
To schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta spinal cord injury attorney, call Slappey & Sadd today at 404-255-6677 or contact us online.Traffic Accidents are the Number One Cause of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the Mayo Clinic, Car and motorcycle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Together, they are responsible for nearly half of all spinal cord injuries suffered for any reason nationwide. Because of motorcyclists’ lack of protection – no steel cage surrounds them, and they are virtually guaranteed to be ejected from their motorcycle in the event of an accident – motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to spinal cord injuries. They are far more likely to suffer a severe spinal injury if they are thrown from their bike and strike an object, such as a tree, sign, utility pole, or another vehicle, than if they simply hit the ground.
And while head injuries are the main cause of motorcycle accident fatalities, studies indicate that severe spinal cord injuries can be just as lethal, especially those occurring in the upper cervical area, and non-fatal spinal cord injuries often result in permanent disability, leaving victims facing long-term health problems as well as potentially monumental health care costs. One study determined that spinal cord injuries have a more significant impact on victims, physically, socially, and financially than other potential injuries.
And spinal cord injuries are not uncommon among motorcyclists injured in a traffic accident. One federal study found that more than 11 percent of motorcyclists injured in traffic accidents suffered some spinal injury. Nearly 20 percent of those suffered neurological injuries – some interference with nerve function -- and about 10 percent suffered some amount of paralysis.What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury usually is an injury to the spinal cord caused by physical trauma that results in some loss of spinal cord function. The loss of function can range from some loss of feeling in extremities all the way up to paralysis -- losing the ability to move parts of your body. Spinal cord injuries make up a small percentage of traffic accident injuries every year, but motorcyclists are at particular risk. Moreover, spinal cord injuries are more severe than most other traffic injuries – broken bones heal, nerves don't. Spinal injuries also are more likely to result in long-term or permanent disability, resulting in a lifetime of medical expenses and lost quality of life.
Medical professionals categorize spinal injuries based on the area of the spine affected. All can be serious injuries, but each category has distinct impacts. There are three major categories:
- Thoracic, and
Cervical injuries are to the upper portion of the spine, including the neck. Thoracic injuries hit the middle section of the spine, while lumbar injuries impact the bottom portion of the spine. The location of the injury determines the areas of the body affected by any loss of spinal function. The higher the spinal injury, the more areas of the body potentially affected.
Relatively minor spinal cord injuries – those that do not result in significant loss of feeling or motion – nonetheless have an impact on your life, resulting in tell-tale signs. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away to determine the cause. Signs of a less-serious spinal cord injury include:
- A feeling of pressure along your spine, including in your head, neck or back, as well as significant back pain
- Weakness in any part of your body, including a loss of normal coordination or some amount of paralysis. This can be as minor as numbness or tingling or loss of feeling in your extremities, including hands, feet, fingers, and toes
- A loss of control over your bladder or bowels
- Problems with balance or walking
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusual twisting or positioning of your neck or back.
Any spinal cord injury can have at least some impact on your life. Damage to any portion of the spinal cord can result in temporary or permanent changes to body functions that are below the level on the spine of the injury. This can include loss of strength or sensation that can range from minor to total – paralysis.
Further, a significant spinal cord injury in a traffic accident almost undoubtedly will result in considerable medical expenses in your future. The severity of the injury will be the determining factor, but such costs are almost always significant – and often involve a lifetime of expenses. For example, a typical spinal cord injury suffered in a motorcycle accident can result in about two weeks of hospitalization followed by another 45 days or so rehabilitation facility. The cost of this initial treatment can amount to about $140,000.
The costs go up from there. The cost of the first year of medical attention for a spinal injury approaches $200,000. If your injury leaves you with paraplegia, the average cost of the first year of medical care, after the initial treatment, drops to about $152,000. However, if you are left a person with quadriplegia by your accident, the cost of that first year of medical care – again, after the initial treatment – soars to an average of about $417,00. Average lifetime medical expenses runs about $428,000 for people with paraplegia. For people with quadriplegia, that average lifetime of medical expenses is $1.35 million.
Those are medical costs. Lost time at work – or an inability to work for the rest of your life – and the social costs drive the impact ever higher. Those numbers exceed most people’s insurance policy limits. To cover your costs, you should consult with an attorney to see if you have avenues of recovery for your damages.Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury, you should consult with an attorney to explore your options for recovering damages. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404-255-6677 or submitting our online contact form. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta.