Spinal Injury

Spinal Cord and Back Injury Lawyers

Maryville Spinal Injury Lawyers

Blount County injury lawyers helping SCI victims and their families

Even relatively minor injuries to back muscles can cause enough pain to make daily activities difficult to accomplish. And the delicate spine easily sustains permanent injuries that can leave victims partially or fully paralyzed.

If you have suffered injuries to your back or spinal cord due to the negligent acts of someone else, you need an experienced attorney on your side. At Shepherd & Long, P.C., we help catastrophic injury victims obtain the compensation they need to ensure a better, brighter future. Our Maryville spinal cord injury lawyers are ready to help; contact us today.

According to the National SCI Statistical Center:

  • There are roughly 17,730 new SCI each year in the United States.
  • Roughly 78% of new SCI cases involve males.
  • Anywhere from 249,000 to 363,000 people are living with an SCI in the United States.
Back and Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys

What are the common causes of spinal cord injuries?

There are many ways in which people can suffer a spinal cord injury. Some of the most common ways include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Act of violence
  • Sports
  • Medical/surgical errors
  • Infections
  • Swimming accidents
  • Alcohol use

What are the different categories of spinal cord injuries?

Folks can suffer spinal cord injuries that are labeled into one of two categories; complete and incomplete, which are then divided into levels.

When a patient is diagnosed with a complete SCI, he or she has lost all sensory and motor functions below the location of the spinal cord injury. A complete spinal cord injury has three levels:

  • Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia: voluntary movement of the upper and lower parts of the body is not present
  • Paraplegia: paralysis of the legs and lower body
  • Triplegia: paralysis of three limbs

If the patient is diagnosed with an incomplete SCI, he or she still has some form of sensory and motor functions below the location of the injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury has three levels:

  • Anterior cord syndrome: a lesion is present on the anterior two-thirds of the spinal cord causing loss of motor control below the lesion
  • Central cord syndrome: impairment of the arms and legs
  • Brown-Sequard syndrome: weakness or paralysis on one side of the body and a loss of sensation on the other side

The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) has a grading system used to grade every spinal cord injury:

  • ASIA A: complete spinal cord injury with no sensory or motor function
  • ASIA B: incomplete sensory function with complete loss of motor function
  • ASIA C: incomplete motor function with some movement, but fewer than half of the muscle groups can lift against gravity with a full range of motion
  • ASIA D: incomplete motor function with more than half of the muscle groups able to lift against gravity
  • ASIA E: normal

What complications can be caused by SCI?

Spinal cord injuries are severe on their own, but they often lead to additional health complications that affect:

  • Incontinence. Loss of bladder and bowel control, which can lead to an increase in urinary tract infections, impacted bowels, and the use of catheters and colostomy bags.
  • Circulatory control. Low blood pressure and swelling, which can lead to you developing pulmonary emboli or deep vein thrombosis.
  • Loss of sensation. The skin cannot send messages to your brain when you suffer an injury or experience pain. This could make SCI victims more susceptible to burns and hypothermia.
  • Muscle tone. Uncontrolled tightening of the muscles, known as spasticity, or limp muscles that lack tone, known as flaccidity. Muscle atrophy is expected in SCI victims, but that atrophy can affect the tongue, heart, and other important muscle groups.
  • Respiratory system difficulty. Spinal cord injuries can make it more challenging to breathe and cough. Many SCI victims require a ventilator, which has its own risks.
  • Mental health conditions. SCI victims may suffer from anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and overall changes in personality or temperament.
  • Infections. Osteomyelitis is an infection that can develop when there are pressure ulcers present, and pressure ulcers are a real concern for SCI victims who use a wheelchair. Catheters can also increase the risk of infection.

What should I do if I think someone has a spinal injury?

If you suspect that someone has suffered a spinal injury, call 9-1-1 immediately. Keep the person as still as possible, especially the head. If the victim is bleeding, do what you can to staunch the flow of blood while you wait for the ambulance.

How much does an SCI cost?

There are many factors that go into determining the cost of initial treatment for spinal cord injury victims as well as lifetime costs. These factors include the age of the patient at the time of the injury, the severity of the injury, the cause of the accident, and many other factors. The estimated lifetime costs for an SCI are:

  • High tetraplegia: $5.1 million for a 25-year-old and $2.8 million for a 50-year-old
  • Low tetraplegia: $3.7 million for a 25-year-old and $2.2 million for a 50-year-old
  • Paraplegia: $2.4 million for a 25-year-old and $1.6 million for a 50-year-old
  • Motor functional at any level: $1.7 million for a 25-year-old and $1.2 million for a 50-year-old

The unfortunate truth is that individuals who seek compensation through insurance claims can face financial devastation when the insurance settlement fails to meet their long-term needs. This is one of the reasons why hiring an experienced Maryville SCI attorney is so crucial: you need someone who understands what kinds of financial burdens you will face, and who can explain those burdens effectively to a jury.

How does treatment work for spinal cord injuries?

The first few hours following an SCI are critical in how you or your loved one recovers from the injury. The severity of the injury determines the course of treatment. Doctors use the ASIA scale to determine the patient’s loss of motor function and a dermatome map to determine the patient’s loss of sensation.

A large number of cases of SCI are treated with surgical procedures, which have two main goals: reduce the pressure on the spinal cord and to stabilize the spine. This is done with a combination of metal rods, plates, and screws.

For the long-term, patients will require extensive rehabilitation in order to regain at least some of their motor function and sensation. According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR), some of the rehabilitative treatments that SCI patients might need to undergo include the following:

  • EMG/Nerve Conduction Studies
  • Ultrasound-guided procedures
  • Spinal injections
  • Discography and Disc Decompression
  • Nerve Stimulators
  • Joint injections
  • Prolotherapy
  • Spasticity Treatment (Phenol and Botulinum toxin injections, intrathecal baclofen pump trial and implants)
  • Nerve and Muscle Biopsies
  • Prosthetics and Orthotics
  • Acupuncture

How an experienced Maryville injury attorney can help

Some back injuries are delayed onset injuries, which initially cause relatively minor backaches that become more severe over time. Seeking immediate medical attention is a vital step in obtaining accurate diagnosis and treatment. However, doctors typically prescribe pain medication, which contributes to healing by increasing your comfort levels. However, pain medication can also mask the true severity of your condition, affecting your pursuit of full damages.

Catastrophic injury attorneys consult with medical professionals who develop a clear diagnostic profile, explaining and discounting the appearance of reduced pain. They also appear as expert witnesses in court when you need a full lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. We can help you make a claim for your medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. If the SCI was the result of gross negligence or recklessness, you could be entitled to punitive damages, too.

Contact an experienced spinal injury lawyer in Maryville for a free consultation

Even if you only experience a minor backache after an accident, seek immediate medical attention and begin treatment that can help you avoid the development of a more serious condition. Before you take any legal action, speak with an experienced Maryville SCI lawyer who knows how to handle these challenging claims. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation with Shepherd & Long, P.C., call 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form.