Traumatic impact to your spinal cord can dislocate or fracture your vertebrae, pinching and putting pressure on nerves in your spinal column. Bone fragments can also pierce the tissue of the spinal cord, resulting in long-term or permanent damage, loss of mobility, and excruciating pain. In the worst cases, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can result in paralysis.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that nearly half of the almost 8,000 spinal cord injuries in the U.S. each year are caused by vehicle accidents. Many such crashes involve large commercial trucks that strike smaller passenger cars. Because of the extreme differences in size and weight between the two, the occupants of smaller vehicles hit by semi-trucks are likely to suffer severe injuries, including SCIs.
Early Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
The first symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include:
- Balance, coordination, or mobility issues
- Problems with bowel or bladder control
- Pain or pressure in your head, neck, or back
- Numb, tingling fingers or toes
- Problems with breathing normally
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle spasms
- Hearing problems
- Loss of mobility
These symptoms might not surface immediately after your crash with a truck. The adrenalin from the experience of the wreck could mask your pain, and you might not think you’re seriously injured.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention immediately after your accident. Diagnostic procedures and a doctor’s exam can reveal the presence of an SCI and allow you to get care right away. Immediate documentation of the injuries you’ve suffered in the crash also strengthens the claim you’ll file against the at-fault trucker’s insurance company for your property damage, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are categorized as complete (45% of all SCIs) or incomplete. In a complete SCI, there is no mobility or feeling below the point of injury to the spine. The victim is left with paraplegia (paralysis of the trunk, legs, and feet) or quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down). An incomplete SCI leaves the victim with a varying amount of mobility and sensation below the point of spinal injury. Incomplete SCIs include:
Posterior Cord Syndrome
Trauma to the rear of the spinal cord might leave the victim with the ability to feel some sensation despite reduced coordination.
Anterior Cord Syndrome
Damage to the front of the spinal cord can cause lost sensation below the point of impact and body temperature issues.
Central Cord Syndrome
The center of the spinal cord is affected, leaving victims able to move their legs but without mobility in their arms.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Trauma to nerves between the first and second lumbar regions of the spine results in pain and numbness below the waist, as well as urinary or bowel problems.
Damage to only one side of the spinal cord can cause a loss of mobility and sensation on only one side of the body, leaving the other side intact.
A fracture or dislocation of the back results in pressure on the spinal cord and causes weakness, lost sensation, or problems with balance.
Any of the above spinal conditions can lead to long-term or permanent disability and deprive you of your ability to work, sleep well, take part in normal activities, enjoy family life, or perform basic hygienic functions each day. Because a spinal cord injury is generally permanent, the costs of your medical treatment, assistive devices, in-home nursing care, and medications are likely to be astronomical and make your damage claim a very expensive one.
The Need for a Lawyer
The insurance companies for the at-fault trucker and other potential defendants are in business to make a profit for shareholders. For this reason, claimants with the most serious injuries and highest medical bills are likely to be denied or offered quick, unfairly low settlements that don’t come close to meeting expenses or providing fair compensation for long-term pain and suffering. This is why the services of an attorney are highly recommended for a truck accident spinal cord injury case if you hope to get the compensation you need and deserve.
Have You Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury in a South Dakota Truck Accident?
An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate your crash to prove the liability of one or more defendants, organize your medical evidence, evaluate your claim, make a reasonable demand from the insurance companies involved, negotiate a fair settlement, and take your case to trial if necessary to get adequate compensation for your damages. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.