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A spinal cord injury is a serious matter. An Orange County spinal cord injury attorney at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo can help the victim and their loved ones during this difficult time. We have been working diligently for spinal cord injury victims and helping them receive the compensation they are rightfully entitled to for over three decades.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) should be the number one goal for you. We will look out for your legal rights and fight your case in court. Our firm wants you to get fair compensation for your spinal cord injuries and all related expenses and missed opportunities. At the law offices of DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, we will provide you and your family a comprehensive team of experienced injury attorneys, physicians, economists, vocational experts, staff, and accident reconstructionists who will work together to fully represent your case and maximize the recovery you are awarded by the judge, jury, or insurance company. Your case will be well represented as even the Better Business Bureau gave us their highest possible rating of an A+.
Since 1979, the insurance and legal communities have come to know our work and respect us and our ethical and winning standards. Our firm has consistently given back to the community. That community development along with our firm’s legal experience and name recognition are all unique advantages you receive as a client of our work injury law firm. Our successful reputation as spinal cord injury lawyers in Orange County speaks for itself: We will provide you with quality representation for your injury case. This is true whether it is a workers’ compensation, work injury, or personal injury case. We will investigate all injuries to make sure your case’s scope is maximized including looking at all the details for the possibility of adding a third-party claim.
The spinal cord is protected by the spine but there are plenty of traumatic and common reasons for how it gets injured. A spinal cord injury (SCI) is harm or damage to the spinal cord that causes a loss of function. The possible functions that may be decreased or lost include feeling, balance and mobility. The spinal cord is actually the soft bundle of nerves that goes from the lower back all the way up to the brain. It runs through what is called the spinal canal for protection. The spinal cord is considered the “information highway” between your brain and your entire body as it sends and carries the directions that come from the brain to the main parts of the body. When someone has totally lost the ability to use a specific area of the body because of a spinal cord injury, it is referred to as a complete injury. It is referred to as an incomplete injury if someone still has partial use of an of the body area after being the victim of a spinal cord injury.
There are various types of spinal cord injuries that can occur. Most commonly, individuals know that spinal cord injuries are divided into:
Spinal cord injuries are divided into “complete” or “incomplete” definitions. When a person sustains an incomplete spinal cord injury, they retain some movement or sensation in their limbs. When a person sustains a complete spinal cord injury, they are completely paralyzed below the site of the injury. Complete spinal cord injuries typically result in permanent paralysis.
The spinal cord is crucial to our ability to live and it is much longer in length than many people think. The location of an injury to it is very important as each segment of the spinal column generally controls a different area of the body (including hands, wrists, and abdomen all the way down to our toes and feet). We will discuss what may happen to a person when damage is caused to a specific part of the spinal cord over the next few paragraphs. Please note, these are only general guidelines and only your doctor can diagnose your specific injury.
Cervical Vertebra (C-1 thru C-8) – Cervical spinal cord injuries may cause the loss of function in the legs, hands, and arms. A severe injury may result in quadriplegia. The cervical vertebrae are found in the neck segment of the spinal column (they are the uppermost vertebra).
Thoracic Vertebra includes T-1 down to T-12 – Injuries that happen in the thoracic segment of the spine and below may result in paraplegia. The neck, arms, hands, and diaphragm (breathing) are not commonly affected by injuries sustained in this region of the spinal cord. Even so, injuries here are still very serious as mobility, balance and stability functions can be disrupted. Spinal cord injuries at T-1, T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, T-6, T-7, and T-8 can all decrease the victim’s ability to have control over their abdominal core muscles. The lower the injury within this segment should result in a less severe outcome.
Abdominal muscles directly correlate with trunk stability. Spinal cord injuries that happen to thoracic vertebra lower than T-8 (which consist of T-9, T-10, T-11 and T-12) also can cause the partial loss of trunk stability and abdominal muscles. In total, the complete thoracic vertebra segment of T-1 thru T-12 consists of roughly half the length of the spinal cord. The thoracic vertebra can be located in the chest region of the spinal cord. They start at about the location where the first rib attaches itself to the spine.
Lumbar Vertebra (L-1 thru L-5) – Spinal cord injuries in this segment can cause declining control of the leg and hip parts of the body. The lumbar region of the spinal cord is found above the pelvis and below the chest area. It is in between the thoracic and the sacral vertebra. L-1 is the important vertebrae for controlling abdominal muscles and thigh flexion. The L-2 and the L-3 vertebrae are crucial for thigh adduction, thigh flexion, and the extension of the legs (at the knees). The L-4 vertebrae also help to control thigh adduction, thigh flexion, and leg extension at the knee. The overlapping duties of many of the vertebra can help injuries to be less severe. L-4 teams with L-5 for being in charge of thigh abduction, hamstring movements for the leg, extension of toes, and the dorsiflexion of the foot. L-5 is also important for the plantar flexion of the foot, the extension of the leg at the hip, and the flexion of the toes. Altogether, the Lumbar Vertebra combine to control much of what causes us to walk, sit up and stand upright.
Sacral Vertebra (S-1 thru S-5) – Spinal cord injuries in this segment of the spinal cord may result in the partial loss of the leg and hip functions in addition to the functions done by the urinary system and anus. This area begins at the pelvis and runs down all the way to the end of the spine. S-1 and S-2 combine to be in charge of the flexion of the toes and the plantar flexion of the foot. They also help to guide the legs movements that extend from the hips and the flexion from the knee. S-3 and S-4 work together to play major roles in controlling the urinary bladder and the urinary system, in general. S-5’s main job is to direct the muscle that is part of the pelvic wall that is called the coccygeus.
That completes a very general list of what each part of the spinal cord does and what the corresponding loss of function may be if the area is injured. Spinal column injuries can cause many issues that are above and beyond what was part of that list. The following are problems that can also be caused by spinal cord injuries:
Central Nervous System (including the brain), Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems, spasticity, trouble breathing, Lower Motor Neurons (LMNs), Upper Motor Neurons (UMNs), chronic pain, bone degeneration, dysfunction of the bowel and bladder, Peripheral Nervous System, atrophying of the muscles, neuropathic pain, autonomic dysreflexia (abnormal increases in automatic body functions like sweating and blood pressure), osteoporosis, and problems with sexual function and fertility.
It is important that you seek medical treatment if you believe you have had a spinal cord injury.
The causes of spinal cord injuries can be generally classified into two main categories: internal causes and external causes. The most common external causes for damage to the spinal cord that we have represented over our over three decades of experience are from:
The most common internal causes of spinal cord injuries are from transverse myelitis (resulting from a stroke or inflammation), tumors, neurodegenerative diseases, vascular malformations, ischemia resulting from the occlusion of spinal blood vessels (including dissecting aortic aneurysms, emboli, arteriosclerosis) and developmental disorders.
The list of vascular malformations that could play a part in injuring the spinal cord include dural arteriovenous fistula (AVF), spinal hemangioma, arteriovenous malformation (AVM), cavernous angioma and aneurysm. The developmental diseases that can cause an injury to the spinal cord include meningomyelocele and spina bifida.
The list of tumors that could affect the spinal cord and cause an injury includes ependymomas, astrocytomas, meningiomas, and metastatic cancer. Neurodegenerative diseases can also affect the spinal column. Examples are Friedreich’s ataxia and spinocerebellar ataxia.
There are three more syndromes that can cause a spinal cord injury. Anterior cord syndrome, central cord syndrome, and Brown-Sequard syndrome may all impair the victim’s ability to be fully functioning. Central cord syndrome is linked to hemorrhage, ischemia, and necrosis. It can cause impairment for the legs and arms but should mainly spare the lower body of the patient. Due to this, it is sometimes also called inverse paraplegia.
According to the Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center, fewer than half a million people in the United States have spinal cord injuries. There are about 10,000 new SCI’s every year and the vast majority of these new spinal cord injuries have external causes to blame. The top three causes are all external and break down as follows: auto accidents (36%), violence (28.9%), and slipping and falling (21.2%). We promise that our entire firm will be on your side throughout the case.
Treatments and rehabilitation will differ for spinal cord injuries depending on the specific location(s) along the patient’s spine and the severity of the injury. For some spinal cord injuries, occupational therapists are being called in to help patients more and more to assist the patient by rehabilitating them and helping them regain control of their impaired parts of the body (though the failure and success rates vary widely depending on the circumstances). The first round of treatment an injured person may receive will all be about not causing further injury. This includes preventing shock, stabilizing the back and neck, keeping the patient breathing, and working to prevent and fight respiratory, stool, urine, and/or cardiovascular problems.
Then, once you are at an emergency room, hospital, or spine injury center, you will probably be treated in the ICU (intensive care unit). The ICU should have a complete team of surgeons, neurosurgeons, social workers, psychologists, therapists, and spinal cord experienced specialists there. The potential treatments will range from medications (like Medrol) and surgery to neck collars and traction. Surgery is sometimes done to remove herniated disks, fractured vertebrae, and bone fragments. With a spinal cord injury, it is crucial to consult all of your specialists and family before moving ahead with any medical treatments.
Spinal cord injury victims in Orange County will likely be entitled to various types of compensation if their injury was caused by the careless or negligent actions of another party. Our attorneys work diligently to cover both economic and non-economic damages on behalf of every client that we help.
Economic damages are also referred to as “special damages,” and these are the quantifiable expenses that a person incurs in the aftermath of sustaining a spinal cord injury. These are quantifiable because we can gather bills and receipts that come in after the injury occurs to determine total losses. Some of the most common economic damages for a spinal cord injury case in Orange County include the following:
Non-economic damages are also referred to as “general damages,” and these are harder to quantify than the economic costs mentioned above. There may not be any bills or receipts that can be directly attributed to a person’s physical pain and suffering, emotional and psychological distress, and loss of enjoyment of life after a spinal cord injury occurs. However, just because these injuries are not as quantifiable does not mean that they are not real. An attorney will work diligently to establish non-economic losses on behalf of a client so they can recover total compensation.
Turning to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see just how expensive the total cost of medical care after a spinal cord injury can become. According to their information, individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury that leads to quadriplegia will likely experience first-year medical costs rising above $1.1 million. The data shows that every subsequent year of medical care after the first year will likely rise above $200,000.
Those who sustain less severe spinal cord injuries may not pay as much in medical expenses, but even a minor spinal cord injury typically results in medical bills reaching approximately $380,000 for the first year of care and more than $46,000 for every subsequent year.
However, these are only medical costs. When examining the total cost of recovery after a spinal cord injury, we also have to look at:
Over our 30+ years of experience, we have witnessed just how hard spinal cord injuries can be on a person and their family. It is time to get the compensation you and your family rightfully deserve to cover medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and much more. Our firm fully believes in complete customer service starting with the free initial consultation. This includes our pledge that we will come to you when you cannot make it to our office.
We offer free consultations to review your case and discuss your legal options. You will meet with a personal injury attorney who will listen to your entire case, answer all of your questions, give you legal advice, and guide you through the legal process. You will not incur any legal fees or expenses for our assistance or time unless and until we win for you a positive trial verdict or settlement. If you cannot travel to meet us, the Orange County spinal cord injury attorneys at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo are ready to have a meeting with you at our office, your home, or your hospital room. Contact us today at (714) 783-2205 or fill out our contact online form.