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The Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

While spinal cord injury (SCI) is thankfully somewhat rare, but is one of the most devastating injuries. It’s estimated around 18,000 people suffer this type of damage each year. For most, these injuries are incredibly debilitating. A main part of the central nervous system, the spinal cord carries messages between the brain and the other parts of your body. Damage to the spinal cord interrupts these pathways, leading to partial or complete paralysis and a host of related complications.

Spinal cord injury is typically caused either by a serious accident, serious fall, infections, medical mistake or a violent attack. These tragic injuries can change a victim’s life forever. Anything that can be done to decrease their frequency can literally save lives. This blog shares the common causes of SCI among Americans.

Car, Truck, and Other Vehicle Collisions

In a survey of more than 1.4 million Americans with SCI, more than 1 in 4 cited a motor vehicle accident as the cause of their injury. High-speed collisions can result in damage to the neck and spine that also affects the spinal cord. Especially when a victim is involved in an accident with a larger vehicle, like a semi-truck, this type of serious injury is more likely. Spinal cord damage can also happen in situations where accident victims have less protection for their neck and head—for example, ATV accidents or collisions involving pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists may cause this serious form of injury.

When another driver’s negligence (or a defective vehicle part) causes an accident, victims should know they have the right to file an insurance claim for compensation. Working with a lawyer after an accident can help victims receive the compensation they need to access treatment and accommodations in the months and years after their injury.

Slips, Trips, Stumbles, and Falls

Falls are the second most common cause of spinal cord injury, a figure that surprises many. While you may not think of this as a legal issue, slip and falls are common both at work and among visitors to commercial establishments. Anything from poor lighting to hidden hazards to slippery walkways can cause a person to lose their footing. When the head hits the ground first in a fall, the victim is likely to be seriously injured. Falling from higher ground can also cause severe spinal cord damage.

If you fell while on someone else’s property, our attorneys can investigate your accident to see if it was caused by a hazard that could make you eligible to file for compensation.

Medical Mistakes

Medical malpractice of multiple types can also lead to spinal cord injury. If a surgeon is not careful, they might make a mistake while positioning or moving a patient that damages their spinal cord. Anesthesiologists can also increase a patient’s risk of spinal cord damage if they are not careful when administering medications. There is no healing the spinal cord—meaning once they make this mistake, even immediate action cannot undo the damage to the patient. Failure to treat infection can also lead to permanent spinal cord injury and paralysis.

Spinal cord injury can also happen during childbirth if a doctor intervenes with labor in a forceful manner. When the mother is having trouble delivering her baby, it’s up to her doctor to help—but if they pull too hard on a baby’s head, neck, or shoulder, or end up twisting the spine too far, they may do permanent damage. Spinal cord injury can cause infant paralysis and introduce a host of challenges for the baby and their parents.

For nursing home neglect or abuse victims, falls are the biggest SCI hazard. Many elderly patients need assistance walking and require oversight to ensure they do not endanger themselves by trying to move without that help. Nursing homes that are overstaffed or simply neglectful of patients may not monitor their residents close enough to prevent falls. The victims of any sort of medical malpractice/negligence, including patient falls, should speak to our attorneys to learn how we can help them file a claim for compensation.

Other Traumatic Causes of SCI

While not as common, enough people suffer a spinal cord injury due to either a violent attack or sports accident that it’s important to be aware of the risk from these situations.

Violent Attacks

When the spinal cord is punctured or severed by an act of violence, a victim that manages to survive the blow will suffer severe injury. The majority of violence-related SCIs are caused by guns, but knife attacks and even weaponless violence can also permanently damage the spinal cord. Most people think of assault as a criminal matter, which it is, but victims are also eligible to file a claim against their attacker for the damages they have suffered.

There Is Help After a Spinal Cord Injury

Depending on the severity of the injury and the age of the victim, SCI can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in lost wages and medical expenses in a victim’s lifetime. If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, slip and fall, because of medical mistakes, you may have the right to file a claim for compensation. Whether you were hurt in one of the ways listed above or via another type of accident, we invite you to reach out to our attorneys to see how we can help you file a case.

Paralysis may be accompanied by other medical issues after a spinal cord injury. To make sure you receive a fair settlement, you need a team of medically proficient attorneys. Cullan & Cullan was founded by a team of lawyers with medical degrees who know how to argue your case, technicalities and all. We offer free consultations and advice backed by years of experience in law and medical work. If you want to know your rights after a spinal cord injury, reach out to us today.

Cullan & Cullan is available at (602) 900-9483 or via our contact form. We’ve recovered over $350 million for injury victims and patients who were harmed by medical malpractice.


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