What Happens If You’re Paralyzed in a Car Accident?

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, traffic accidents are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all paralysis cases. The average yearly costs– including medical care and living expenses– can range from $60,000 to more than $220,000, depending on the type and severity. For example, someone who is 50 at the time of the accident– their lifetime costs of living with the condition can exceed $2.7 million.

Car crashes are the leading cause of spinal cord injury

People living with paraplegia or quadriplegia are typically unable to afford the medical insurance needed to cover the rehabilitation and ongoing care costs and may be forced to rely on family or loved ones for caregiving needs.

In addition, in far too many accidents, the victim was in no way responsible. Those who have lost the use of their limbs do have recourse, however. The courts provide remedies to those who have been injured due to the negligence of another party. An experienced personal injury lawyer is your best resource for pursuing fair compensation.

At Douglas & London, we understand the life-changing impact of a spinal cord injury. Our New York City personal injury lawyers have the resources and skill to help victims secure the money damages they need to get the best medical care to forge ahead with their lives.

How auto accidents cause paralysis

Paralysis is characterized as a loss of control over a muscle or group of muscles within the body. This happens when signals from the brain are interrupted due to sudden injury or damage to the relay messaging system. In an accident, the spinal cord and column can be stretched well beyond its normal range of motion, causing irreparable injury.

Paralysis caused by a car wreck usually happens when a nerve inside the spinal cord is bruised or partially severed. A spinal cord that is injured cannot relay messages from the brain to the body’s systems that control movement, sensation, or autonomic function. The nerves in the cervical vertebrae (C1 – C8) control signals to the neck, arms, and hands. Nerves in the thoracic region (T1 -T12) transmit signals to the torso and portions of the upper body. An injury in the lumbar area, below the ribs, are still able to control signals to the legs and hips.

People who suffer an “incomplete” spinal cord injury (SCI) usually maintain some level of motor and sensory function below the site of injury and have a stronger chance of future recovery.

Paralysis from spinal cord injuries can be categorized as:

  • Monoplegia – one limb or body part is paralyzed
  • Paraplegia–both legs (and possibly the pelvic region) are paralyzed
  • Tetraplegia – all four limbs, trunk, and pelvic area are paralyzed
  • Hemiplegia – the limbs on one side of the body are affected

No cure for SCI

There have been major advances in treatments and therapies to help victims who have been left paralyzed from a spinal cord injury, but there is still no cure.  While surgery and physical therapy can help those with herniated discs recover, others with complete paralysis face a different reality. Nerve regeneration and decompression surgery are costly, and still in the early stages of development.

Some paralyzed car accident victims will need a wheelchair along with vehicle and home modifications. Others may suffer from respiratory difficulties, along with bladder and bowel incontinence. Paralysis can result in secondary complications that cause spasticity, debilitating pain, and increase risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Expert legal counsel for car accident victims 

The financial and emotional burdens of a spinal cord injury and paralysis are catastrophic. The law firm of Douglas & London is here to help. Take the first step by exploring the merits of your claim with our experienced New York City car accident lawyers.

The initial consultation is free, and we are happy to answer your questions and provide advice on the best strategy for moving forward.  We take immense pride in providing client-focused advocacy, honest communication, and personalized attention.