The spinal cord is one of the most important structures in the body. It serves as the transitway for motor neurons from the brain, the body’s supercomputer, to the rest of the central nervous system. As such, the spine is central to a person’s health and mobility.
Back and spinal cord injuries are unfortunately common. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, close to 18,000 Americans suffer back and spinal cord injuries each year.
If you sustained a spinal injury because of someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages if your injury rendered you unable to work, and pain and suffering. At Mann Law, our Maine spinal cord injury lawyers work hard to help victims of devastating injuries seek the compensation they deserve.
Types of Back Injuries
Spinal cord injuries fall into two categories based on the severity of the injury: complete and incomplete. When a person sustains a complete spinal cord injury, they can lose all sensation and their ability to control motor functions below the site of injury. A person with an incomplete spinal cord injury usually retains some sensation and motor function below the injury.
Common types of spinal injuries in Maine include:
- Pinched nerves – If a nerve in the back or spinal cord is pressured, it could “pinch” the nerve, causing pain, weakness, numbness, and even loss of motor function in other areas of the body. For instance, a pinched nerve in the lower back can result in pain and weakness in the leg. Pinched nerves are a common slip and fall injury.
- Herniated discs – A herniated disc injury occurs when one of the jelly-like discs between the vertebrae pushes against the hard casing of the vertebrae. Herniated discs are sometimes called ruptured or slipped discs.
- Back strains and sprains – Back strains can occur when the tendons that bind back muscles to bones are torn, while back sprains can occur when the ligaments that connect bones at the joints are torn or damaged. These types of injuries are extremely common and can cause pain that worsens with movement, muscle spasms, cramping, and limited range of motion.
- Spinal fractures – This type of injury can be severe and occurs when one or more of the vertebrae are dislocated or fractured, often as the result of a high-velocity impact. Although spinal fractures vary in severity, some require emergency care, surgery, and ongoing care.
- Full or partial paralysis – If the spine is transected, paralysis can occur. There two main types of paralysis that result from spinal cord injuries are quadriplegia and paraplegia. Both require ongoing medical care and severely limit the injured person’s ability to move.
Common Causes of Spinal Damage
Back, spine, and spinal cord injuries are caused by many incidents, but some of the most common include:
- Car accidents – Research published by the Mayo Clinic documents that car accidents are the most common cause of back injuries, making up about half of spinal cord injury cases. Other accidents, including motorcycle and pedestrian accidents, also cause back and spinal cord injuries. The force and impact of vehicular collisions can result in severe injuries, such as paralysis.
- Slip and fall accidents – Slip and fall accidents are another common cause of back and spinal cord injury. Wet floors, uneven walkways, and loose floorboards are just a few of the many causes of slip and fall accidents. Slips and falls are particularly dangerous to elderly people, who are more prone to vertebrae fractures.
- Sports-related accidents – High impact sports, including football, horseback riding, wrestling, skiing, and cheerleading, all result in serious back and spinal injuries for participants each year.
- Medical malpractice – When a medical professional operates on or around the spinal cord, they must take utmost care to ensure that the spine is not harmed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. If a surgeon makes an error in the spinal cord area, they could cause permanent damage.
Treatment of Back, Spine, and Spinal Cord Injuries
Treatment for back injuries varies depending upon the severity of the injury. Certain spinal cord injuries are mild enough to improve on their own, but others require immediate medical care and a long recovery period. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Immobilization – Medical professionals often immobilize the spine to prevent any further damage using a neck collar or a spinal brace.
- Surgery – More serious back and spinal cord injuries often require surgery to remove bone and disc fragments, repair fractures, or remove fluid and tissue.
- Traction – Traction relieves pressure on the spine and can be used to treat pinched nerves, herniated discs, and many other back injuries.
- Physical and occupational therapy – In the weeks and months after a spinal cord injury, physical and occupational therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve mobility.
- Adaptive devices – Those with permanent injuries may use wheelchairs, walkers, and other devices to enhance their mobility.
Compensation for Spine Injuries
If you suffered a spinal injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you might be entitled to financial compensation for the following losses:
- Current and future medical bills
- Medical devices and home modifications
- Lost wages due to your injury
- Loss of future earnings if disabled
- Pain and suffering
A spinal cord injury can fundamentally alter your life, but you can seek just compensation if someone else’s negligence is to blame. If you or a loved one sustained an injury due to someone else’s carelessness, you deserve compensation. Attempting to negotiate a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company can be challenging alone, so trust an experienced Maine spinal injury attorney with Mann Law to help.
Statute of Limitations in Maine
Maine law sets a six-year statute of limitations for spinal cord injury lawsuits. This means that you have six years from the date that the back or spinal injury occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s important to start the process as soon as possible so that your attorney has time to investigate the incident, collect evidence, identify the at-fault party or parties, ad negotiate with the insurance company before this deadline. If you miss it, you could miss out on your chance to claim any compensation.
How a Maine Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Can Help
At Mann Law, we have almost two decades of experience helping victims of back, spine, and spinal cord injuries in Maine seek fair compensation for damages caused by negligence. Our Maine spinal cord injury lawyers can conduct a thorough review of your case, determine who caused your injury and how, and work tirelessly to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.