One of the worst events that could happen to a resident or visitor to Las Vegas is a spinal cord injury. Most of the time, injury to the spinal cord occurs when the victim is involved in an auto accident and experiences trauma to the back or neck. In an instant, a driver’s carelessness through drinking and driving; texting or using the phone; or simply disregarding traffic rules can change the rest of a victim’s life by causing a devastating injury. In the time immediately following your accident, a personal injury lawyer can collect the evidence and the statements from eyewitnesses that will prove negligence and win you a fast, fair settlement.
What Is the Spinal Cord?
You use your spinal cord every second of every day. It is the primary way that your brain communicates with the rest of your body, controlling functions from finger, toe, and limb movement to breathing and bladder/bowel control. It also sends messages back to the brain, controlling reaction when an outside factor causes pain to the skin, muscles, or other organs. This amazing piece of equipment is heavily protected by a column of bones, the vertebrae, and even painful back and neck injuries are usually not severe enough to damage the spinal cord inside the vertebrae. However, an accident that crushes the vertebrae or cuts through the spinal cord (either partially or completely) usually leads to long term paralysis. Grueling rehabilitation and use of artificial devices may bring partial recovery, but in some cases the victim is forced to remain immobile for the rest of his life.
Spinal Cord Injury Classifications
The spinal cord is divided into different sections, with each section controlling different functions. For this reason, spinal cord injuries are far from uniform, and the specific area of the cord that is damaged determines what functions are affected. Some victims only lose a small portion of their mobility, while others become completely paralyzed. If the injury is located at the level of the neck, the victim could need the help of a ventilator just to breathe. Normally, doctors refer to injuries as complete or incomplete.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Las Vegas visitors who suffer a complete spinal cord injury lose all feeling and mobility below the level of the trauma. Of course, this always means loss of walking ability and confinement to a wheelchair. If the injury is located high on the back or neck, permanent paralysis of the arms and inability to breathe normally is also possible. Obviously, the ongoing financial needs incurred by a complete injury are extremely high, and it is highly unlikely that an insurance company would be willing to pay a full compensation amount without intervention by an attorney on the victim’s behalf.
If the spinal cord is only partially damaged, the victim might still be able to feel and use his limbs to a limited extent. With quick reaction and skilled care by doctors immediately after the injury, the spinal cord can sometimes be salvaged enough to allow a high level of recovery. Extensive rehabilitation is needed, however, as well as equipment like wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility devices. The average individual can not pay these medical bills on his own, and remaining financially sound means getting the help of a Las Vegas injury attorney to make sure that the responsible party provides compensation in full.
The actual trauma to the spinal cord is sometimes not the most destructive event. An injured cord is very vulnerable to secondary injuries caused by moving the victim and putting pressure on the area when swelling is still occurring. Fortunately, emergency teams now use a number of different techniques and tools to try to prevent any unnecessary additional injuries above those caused by the original incident.
Recovering from Spinal Cord Injuries
Recovering from spinal cord damage is very complex and unpredictable. While the medical field has made great advances in minimizing the effects of injuries, there is still no way to repair a damaged spinal cord. Often it is impossible to tell how extensive an injury is and how much mobility the victim will regain until some time has passed. For this reason, it is a critical mistake to accept a settlement offer right after an accident, before your injuries are fully understood. A good injury lawyer will research your situation, collect expert opinions, use his past knowledge of similar cases, and propose a settlement amount that will be sure to cover your future expenses. Medical bills aren’t the only cost to consider, either; the inability to work, strain on other family members and caregivers, and many consequences that are difficult to quantify, should all be included in a settlement amount. In a free consultation, a lawyer can discuss your injuries or those of a loved one, talk about your options, and begin negotiating for a compensation that will cover your costs.