Every year, there are about 17,500 spinal cord injuries in the United States. Of these, many will suffer lifelong consequences from their SCIs. It is important for spinal cord injury victims and their loved ones to understand that SCIs often mean changes that will affect the rest of the victim’s life, and in seeking compensation for damages, a lifetime of expenses should be calculated. Having the help of a personal injury attorney experienced in valuing spinal cord injury cases can help victims to avoid settling for less than they deserve.
The Facts About SCIs
According to recent statistics, there are approximately 285,000 people in the United States living with some degree of spinal cord injury. About 81 percent of these victims are male, and their average age at injury is up from 29 years in 1970 to about 42 years currently. This increase may be due to the fact that older men are far more likely than in previous years to be involved in sports and activities that carry a higher risk of SCI.
The leading cause of spinal cord injury is automobile accidents, which account for approximately 38 percent of all SCIs. Falls are another major cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for about 31 percent of all accidents involving injury to the spine. Other major factors that can cause SCIs are violent assaults (14%), sports (9%), and medical procedures (4%).
Spinal Cord Injury Severity and Lifelong Changes
Less than one percent of victims will experience complete recovery after a spinal cord injury. There are different levels of injury that carry different prognoses for victims, and the level of injury directly impacts the amount of change the victim will experience in his or her lifetime.
- Incomplete and complete tetraplegia. Tetraplegic injuries occur in the neck area and affect the entire body, including all four limbs. An incomplete injury refers to the fact that the spine is not completely damaged, and some motion or feeling may be retained. Therefore, incomplete tetraplegia, which makes up about 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries, is a seriously damaging type of SCI that will impact a victim’s ability to earn a living, support his or her family, and perform daily functions of self-care. Complete tetraplegia is the most serious of these types of injuries and may involve the need for full physical care for the remainder of the victim’s life.
- Incomplete and complete paraplegia. Paraplegic injuries occur in areas of the back lower than the neck and may involve only the bottom portion of the body, including the legs. Like tetraplegia, paraplegia is divided into partial and complete injuries. Incomplete paraplegia affects about 21 percent of SCIvictims, while complete paraplegia affects about 20 percent. Generally, paraplegia injuries allow a bit more freedom of movement than tetraplegic injuries and allow victims a bit more independence, although they can still require a lifetime of care.
Spinal cord injuries are very serious, and often require the victim to have some form of support for the rest of his or her life. If you have suffered an SCI, do not leave the outcome to chance. Call Barber & Associates today to learn how we can help you recover compensation to pay for your expenses now and in the future.