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St. Louis Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Helping victims of catastrophic injuries & paralysis in Missouri and Illinois

Spinal cord injuries are among the most catastrophic injuries there are. They affect more than mobility; they can make it impossible for families to return to the lives they once had. They require significantly more care than almost any other type of injury, creating a substantial financial burden on families.

The Hayden Law Firm works with families throughout Missouri and Illinois whose loved ones suffered long-term and permanent injury to the spine and spinal cord. We establish the cause of your injuries and the overall effect on your life and your loved ones, and present those findings to ensure that you are protected. To schedule free consultation with a St. Louis spinal cord injury lawyer today, please call.

What is a spinal cord injury?

A spinal cord injury, or SCI, is an injury to the spinal cord or to the nerves in the spinal canal. The spinal cord is divided into five sections, which determines the type of injury you have:

  • Cervical, the most severe SCI, which can affect everything from the head down
  • Thoracic, which affects the back, chest, and stomach
  • Lumbar, which affects the legs and hips
  • Sacral, which affects the hips, thighs, and buttocks
  • Coccygeal, which can lead to incontinence

 

Vertebra Front and Side

For a full explanation of the affected areas by vertebrae, please click here.

Spinal cord injury vs. spinal injury

Not all damage to the spine affects the cord. Your bones, spinal column and vertebrae can also suffer damage that may or may not be permanent, but often cause pain, tingling, and/or loss of sensation. Examples of these injuries include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Compression fractures
  • Disc or vertebrae dislocation
  • Weakened vertebrae (subluxation)
  • Prolapsed discs
  • Spinal stenosis

Some of these injuries can be treated with medication and therapy, but others may require surgical intervention. You can also sustain spinal injuries through undiagnosed infections.

Spinal cord injury vs. spinal injury

Not all damage to the spine affects the cord. Your bones, spinal column and vertebrae can also suffer damage that may or may not be permanent, but often cause pain, tingling, and/or loss of sensation. Examples of these injuries include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Compression fractures
  • Disc or vertebrae dislocation
  • Weakened vertebrae (subluxation)
  • Prolapsed discs
  • Spinal stenosis

Some of these injuries can be treated with medication and therapy, but others may require surgical intervention. You can also sustain spinal injuries through undiagnosed infections.

How spinal cord injuries cause paralysis

A severe spinal cord injury often causes paralysis, either temporary or permanent. This occurs when the injury to the spinal cord severs or harms the nerves which make up the cord. Paralysis is defined as complete or incomplete:

  • Complete: a victim loses all sensation and motor function at and below the point of injury
  • Incomplete: the victim retains some level of sensation and motor function at and below the point of injury.

Tetraplegia, or quadriplegia, affects the arms, legs, hands, feet, and chest, as well as the pelvic organs.
Paraplegia affects part of the chest, the legs, feet, and pelvic organs.

Do all spinal cord injuries lead to permanent paralysis?

No, they don’t. Sometimes, as the swelling goes down, a victim may regain feeling and motor function. There are also a number of SCIs that do not lead to paralysis at all, though they can affect sensation and motor function, and cause significant and/or chronic pain. Per the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, those conditions include:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome
  • Central Cord Syndrome
  • Posterior Cord Syndrome
  • Brown-Séquard Syndrome
  • Cauda Equina
  • Cord Concussion
  • Tethered Cord
  • Neural Tube Defects

Some of these conditions are caused by genetic abnormalities, but many are the result of trauma.

What are the most common causes of SCI?

According to both the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and MSKTC, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of SCI. Other causes of SCI include:

  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Diving accidents
  • Electrical accidents
  • Crushing injuries
  • Being hit by an object
  • Assault

Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by defective products or work accidents, as well as undiagnosed infections, surgical errors, and other medical mistakes.

 

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What are the complications of SCI?

Spinal cord injuries are unique in that they have built-in risks for complications, and victims may not realize they are at risk at all. This is because the body’s warning system – pain – does not work properly. Even if parts of your spine are sending signals for pain or infection, you cannot receive those signals, which means you may not ever know something is wrong.

SCI victims are at risk of complications affecting multiple body systems, including the circulatory, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems. Some common complications include:

  • Pressure ulcers
  • Incontinence
  • Bowel impaction
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood clots
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Respiratory failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung collapse
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep apnea

Are spinal cord injuries fatal?

Some spinal cord injuries may be fatal, but it is often the complications associated with SCI that lead to a person’s death. Pneumonia is the leading cause of SCI-related deaths, and infection and parasitic diseases are the second leading cause of death. Per the Shepherd Center:

The life expectancy of someone with a spinal cord injury can vary depending on level of injury. Overall, 85% of people with spinal cord injury who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later…. Long-term data collected by Shepherd Center and the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) show an increase in life expectancy for people who have lived 25 years or more with spinal cord injury. The survival rate at 25 or more years after injury is 60 percent.

How much does a spinal cord injury cost?

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that a 25-year-old with high tetraplegia will spend more than $5 million on his or her healthcare costs and living expenses alone over the course of his or her life. That total does not include:

  • Lost wages and loss of income earning potential for the SCI victim
  • Lost wages and loss of income earning potential for family caregivers
  • Home renovation, modification, and/or moving costs
  • Loss of “fringe” benefits, including healthcare, bonuses, and other compensatory awards
  • Travel expenses associated with treatments
  • Daycare expenses for the victim’s children

It also does not, cannot, quantify intangible losses, such as the ability to care for oneself, to hug one’s children, or to feel a sense of purpose. SCI can take away everything that makes life worth living. It’s not just the inability to financially support your family; it’s playing catch with your child, or volunteering with local organizations. It’s the ability to take part in everyday activities or plan weekend getaways on a whim. An SCI costs much, much more than just money.

Why you need a St. Louis SCI attorney for your claim

If your spinal cord injury was the result of another person or entity’s negligence, you do not want to face it alone. The Hayden Law Firm understands what is at stake in these types of claims. Unlike other injury lawsuits, SCI victims may never truly recover, which means they will need varying levels of care for the rest of their lives.

The insurance companies will fight to keep you from recovering the damages you are due, and will attempt to pigeonhole you into a set amount of compensation that does not account for your extensive future needs. This is why you need a St. Louis SCI attorney working with you on your lawsuit. Not only do we have the resources available to handle this complex litigation, but we also have a network of professional experts at our disposal. The Hayden Law Firm works with doctors, specialists, accident reconstruction experts, financial planners, economists, and life-care planners to build a complete picture of what your injury has cost you and your family, and what it will continue to cost you for the rest of your life. We are always prepared to present this full story to a jury, which is why we are often successful in settlement negotiations: insurance companies know we mean business, and may be more likely to bring a better offer to the negotiating table at the start.

We get you the results you need when you need them most.

Strategic counsel from a St. Louis traumatic spinal cord injury attorney

Living with a spinal cord injury is difficult. Choosing the right injury attorney for your needs shouldn’t be. To schedule a free consultation with a St. Louis SCI lawyer from The Hayden Law Firm, please call 314-480-3100 or fill out our contact form.