Spinal Cord Injuries


Approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injuries (SCI) occur each year in the United States. Spinal cord injuries can happen in a number of ways: car accidents, swimming accidents, slip and falls and so forth. According to statistics, the following are the most common causes behind spinal injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents – About 50%
  • Falls – 20%
  • Act of violence – 15%
  • Sporting accident –14%

The blow to a spine can cause vertebra fractures or can cause bone fragments, disc materials or ligaments to tear. While the spinal cord is not always severed in these cases, when it is, it can cause immediate and permanent paralysis. In 1995, Christopher Reeve, the former face of the 1978 Superman, was pitched from his thoroughbred while out on a ride and landed head first, fracturing his upper vertebrae.

Reeve was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. While Mr. Reeve passed away on October 10, 2004, the Christopher & Dana Reeve foundation continues to flourish. While sometimes spinal cord injuries are the result of freak accidents, like Mr. Reeve’s, at other times they are directly related to another person’s negligence. In these instances, victims and their family members have every right to fight for compensation and a New York City personal injury attorney from Greenberg & Stein, P.C. can assist you!

What is a spinal cord injury?

According to medical dictionaries, a spinal cord injury is “an insult to the spinal cord resulting in a change, either temporary or permanent, in its normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function.” Depending on the extent of a spinal cord injury, an individual can be partially or entirely paralyzed.

The nerves that can be affected include the following:

  • C1-C4: Head and neck
  • C3-C5: Chest and breathing
  • C5-T1: Shoulders, arms and hands
  • T2-T12: Chest and abdomen
  • L1-L4: Abdomen, buttocks, genitals, upper legs
  • L4-S1: Legs
  • S2-S4: Genitals and muscles of the perineum

Computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging scans and X rays can determine the location and extent of a spinal cord injury. The extent of an injury has been defined by the ASIA Impairment Scale using the categories below:

  • A- Complete: No sensory or motor function is preserved in segments SR-S5
  • B- Incomplete: Sensory, but not motor function, is preserved below the neurologic level and extends through segments S4-S5
  • C-Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below the neurologic level and most key muscles below have muscle grade less than 3 (grade 3 is defined as “movement against gravity but not against resistance”)
  • D-Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below the neurologic level and most key muscles below the neurologic level have muscle grade greater than or equal to 3
  • E-Normal: Sensory and motor functions are normal

Quadriplegia is a severe injury to the spinal cord in the neck region that causes loss of function in the lower body including the arms and the legs. Paraplegia is an injury below the neck region that causes loss of function in the legs only.

How can you recognize a spinal cord injury?

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include the following:

  • Numbness or tingling that spreads down an arm or leg
  • Head that is in an unusual position
  • Stiff neck, headache or neck pain
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Paralysis of arms and/or legs
  • No bladder or bowel control
  • Shock
  • Lack of alertness

After an accident, the moment any of these symptoms appear, it is imperative that you seek out medical attention immediately!

Searching for a lawyer for your personal injury case in New York City?

After receiving the necessary medical care, it is crucial that you fight for compensation as the costs you might otherwise have to pay for are astounding: short term costs for hospitalization, equipment and home modification are approximately $140,000. Lifetime costs can exceed one million dollars and costs can be three to four times higher for a patient who requires long-term institutional care. Rehabilitation is a long road and may require the services of a neurologist, physiatrist, physical therapist and occupational therapist as well as a respiratory therapist, speech-language pathologist, nutritionist and clinical psychologist.

If a car hit your motorcycle or you slipped on a broken staircase and sustained your SCI, this would be grounds for negligence. If you feel trapped in a body and your life has been permanently affected by your injury, you deserve the chance to fight for compensation and justice, and Greenberg & Stein can give you this chance! Spinal cord injury cases can quickly become complex- an insurance company often does not offer victims enough to cover medical treatment, rehabilitation, adaptive devices and future medical costs. Don’t settle for less than you deserve! Greenberg & Stein will protect your rights and use all their resources and connections to help you obtain the maximum compensation possible. The firm secured a $3,104,000 award for a paraplegic and it would be proud to represent you.

Call Greenberg & Stein today if you are looking for a lawyer for your personal injury case in New York City, New York.

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