Spinal Cord Injuries after Car Accidents

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI's) suffered in car accidents are very serious, and unfortunately more common than you may realize. There are roughly 17,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries in America every year. Since 2010, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of spinal injuries (38%), according to data released by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC). If you've been in a car accident and are feeling pain, tingling or numbness as a result, you may have suffered a serious spinal cord injury.

The auto accident attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have won numerous multi-million dollar cases for victims suffering from debilitating spinal injuries following a car crash. Call 212-736-5300 to receive a free legal consultation.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves, tissue and vertebrae which runs down your back and connects to your brain, forming your central nervous system. It is one of the most important structures in your body, and when it is injured, it could cause pain in many different places.

There are three main regions of your spinal cord: the Lumbar spine (lower back), the Thoracic spine (mid-back) and the Cervical spine (upper back and neck). When a vertebra is damaged, it will generally impact parts of the body that are below the location of the injury. When an injury happens high up on your spine, particularly at the cervical spine, complete paralysis (known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia) or even death may result. Common types of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Fractured Vertebrae: There are 33 vertebrae in your spine, and when one fractures it can pinch or compress your spinal cord. The severity of a fractured vertebra depends largely on the stability of the spine following the fracture.
  • Herniated or Ruptured Discs: The discs in your spine sit between your vertebrae and are made up of a soft inside and a tough cartilage perimeter. When significant and sudden force is applied to your spine, as is common in rear-end accidents, the soft inner layer of a spinal disc may tear through it's tough perimeter, causing the painful condition known as a Herniated or Ruptured Disc.
  • Bulging Discs: When you are in a car accident, your neck whips forward and back (which is where the term "whiplash" comes from). If this sudden force causes a disc to protrude out of its natural alignment, it is known as a Bulging Disc. Untreated Bulging Discs are at risk of becoming herniated.
  • Pinched nerves: The nerves in your spinal cord send signals to every part of your body. When a bulging or herniated disc presses on a nerve, it could cause other muscles to hurt, tingle or feel numb.
  • Paraplegia: A form of paralysis in which muscle function from the waist down is restricted or even nonexistent. Paraplegia most often results from injuries to the Thoracic spine.
  • Quadriplegia: A form of paralysis in which there is often litle to no movement from the neck down. Quadriplegia is most often the result of severe injures to the Cervical spine.
  • Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces in your spinal canal start to narrow, putting pressure on the spinal column and the nerves throughout. Some people are born with spinal stenosis whereas others develop the condition following severe trauma to the spine.
  • Spondylolysis: A general term used to describe degenerative conditions in the spine. Though it usually results from natural wear and tear or aging, it can also be brought on by traumatic injury, such as a serious crash.

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

When your motion is suddenly halted as a result of a car crash, the abrupt deceleration can cause injuries to your back and neck. If the force was strong enough to damage one of your actual vertebrae, you may be experiencing some of the following spinal cord injury symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness or loss of motion
  • Unexplained muscle spasms
  • Loss or weakened sensation of temperature or touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Painful stinging or pinching sensations in the back, which may represent a pinched nerve
  • Digestive problems
  • Numbness or tingling

If you are experiencing serious back pain or any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should seek medical help immediately.

Proving Fault After a Collision on the Road

The first thing an insurance company will want to do to determine who is at fault for an auto accident is review the evidence from the scene of the crash. One of the most authoritative documents you can have are police reports written up by officers at the scene. This is why it's crucial not just to contact police after a collision, but to request a copy of the police report as well.

Another step which is crucial to determining who is at fault for a collision are photographs of the accident scene. This should include the condition of both cars before they are moved, any debris that may have scattered, any nearby signage that may be relevant, and any cuts, bruises, or other kinds of injuries which either party may have suffered. The more photo evidence which you can gather from the crash which caused your spine injury, the easier it will be to prove the facts of the case.

Contact an Experienced Auto Injury Attorney

Being injured in a car crash is stressful, but you do not have to struggle by yourself. The personal injury attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have a strong record of successfully bringing car accident lawsuits on behalf of those who suffer spinal cord injuries. We know the various types of spinal injuries that a collision can cause, as well as their economic consequences, including treatment, rehabilitation efforts, and long-term care. We will work with your doctor to document evidence and determine a prognosis and diagnosis early on.

Additionally, we have the resources to comprehensively investigate the accident scene and work with accident reconstructionists to build the strongest case possible. In a case where a 56-year-old man suffered severe nerve damage to his lumbar spine due to a car accident, our attorneys achieved a $9.26 million verdict.

Other settlements and verdicts for auto accident victims with spinal injuries include:

  • $6,000,000 Settlement for a bus passenger who suffered a herniated disc in his lumbar spine, requiring a laminectomy, facetectomy and spinal fusion surgery at L5/S1.
  • $5,500,000 Settlement for a driver in Brooklyn who sustained disc herniations which later required lumbar fusion surgery after being sideswiped by another vehicle.
  • $5,160,916 Verdict for a car crash victim who sustained multiple bulging discs and ultimately had to undergo spinal fusion surgery at C5/6 and L5/S1.
  • $4,250,000 Settlement for the victim of a rear-end car accident which caused degenerative spondylosis and required spinal fusion surgery at L5/S1.
  • $4,100,000 Verdict for the victim of a 2-car accident who suffered 10 herniated discs throughout his Cervical and Lumbar spine.
  • $4,000,000 Settlement (with anticipated $19,394,595 payout) for a pedestrian who was hit by a van while she was crossing the street, causing injuries to her lumbar spine.
  • $4,000,000 Settlement for a driver who was T-boned in Queens, causing herniations at C3/4, C4/5, L2/3 and L4/5, ultimately requiring 2-level lumbar fusion surgery at L4/5 and L5/S1.
  • $3,800,000 Settlement for a truck driver in Long Island who had to undergo an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion at C5/6.
  • $3,400,000 Settlement for a man struck by a NYC Parks Dept. vehicle, causing disc herniations at C3-7 and resulting in multilevel significant stenosis.

Our New York auto injury attorneys offer FREE legal consultations to those hurt in vehicle collisions. Call 212-736-5300 or email us to receive a free case review.