Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, and Vehicle Accidents in Austin, Texas
Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injury. These injuries can be fatal or result in lifelong disability, and people who survive may be completely dependent on others for their care, when their injury results in paralysis.
The loss of movement and sensation in the legs is called paraplegia. When paralysis affects all four limbs, it’s called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. People suffering from these conditions may have varying degrees of paralysis, and, in extreme cases, the nerves that power their vital organs may fail.
For any degree of paralysis, the ongoing medical costs can be financially devastating for families. If people always drove safely, many of these life-altering injuries could be prevented. But too many drivers engage in dangerous behaviors – like speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – that cause serious crashes.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Doctors refer to the small bones in the spinal cord (vertebrae), and their corresponding nerve groups, by numbers and by four sections: Cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral.
The following explains the severity of injuries among each spinal section:
- Cervical Spinal Injuries
- Injuries to the cervical nerves (C1 through C8) are the most serious. These nerves are in the neck, and when they’re damaged, every major organ below the site of injury may fail. A person with an injury in the C1 or C2 area likely will not survive. Cervical nerve injuries will cause some degree of quadriplegia along with some need for assistive technology, such as a respirator to help with breathing, or medical intervention to help with digestion, bowel, and bladder function.
- Thoracic Spinal Injuries
- The thoracic spinal nerves in the upper back also control bowel and bladder function to some degree. Injuries to the thoracic spine most commonly affect the T11 and T12 nerves. Patients with this injury have some degree of paraplegia, but they may recover sensation and movement with time.
- Lumbar and Sacral Spinal Injuries
- In a car crash, the force of the impact may damage nerves without fracturing the spine. Spinal fractures resulting from a car crash are more common in the lumbar area than in other areas of the spine.Injuries to the lumbar and sacral nerves may cause loss of sensation and movement in one or both legs or in the feet. Bowel and bladder function may be affected, too.
Generally, spinal cord injuries are less severe when they occur in the lower spine. People may be able to recover from such injuries and recover sensation and the ability to walk on their own. But there are many factors that affect an individual’s prognosis. A person’s age, overall health, and the existence of other health conditions have an impact on recovery.
One of the immediate concerns families have when a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury is how they will cover the costs of medical care. Even with health insurance, the costs of ongoing care required for spinal cord injury patients can be extremely high. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, a 25-year-old person who suffers an injury in the C5 to C8 region that results in quadriplegia will have average total lifetime medical costs of $3,455,879.
One reason medical costs are so high for spinal cord injury victims is that many other health conditions may arise, such as infections and pneumonia, requiring hospitalization. The average hospital stay for such conditions is about 22 days for spinal cord injury victims.
Help for Families
The financial impact of paraplegia and quadriplegia is compounded when the injured person was a primary income-earner in a household. So when an injured person or their family seeks the help of an attorney, they should choose someone who understands the long-term financial losses and costs associated with paraplegia and quadriplegia.
The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm has helped many families in Austin and throughout Texas get the settlements they need to move on with their lives as best as possible. Because of our experience in handling complex spinal cord injury cases, we know how to present medical evidence in a way that best supports our clients’ claims – and often, we can reach an agreement without going to trial.
Don’t wait to ask for help. Call us today at 1-855-414-1012 – or fill out our online form – to request a free consultation.