Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) often occur from a sudden traumatic blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, or compresses vertebrae, ligaments, or bone disks. These injuries disrupt the signals that are carried back and forth between the body and the brain, which comprises the central nervous system (CNS). With complete SCIs, the spinal cord cannot send signals from below the injury, resulting in paralysis. With incomplete SCIs, there is some movement and sensation below the site of the injury, but significant impairment still exists.
What are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries?
These catastrophic injuries can severely impact individuals and limit their functioning. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the leading causes of spinal cord injuries are as follows:
- Vehicular accidents. As the leading cause of SCIs, rear-end, side impact, and head on collisions can all result in catastrophic injuries, even when the driver or passengers are wearing a seat belt. In this scenario, it is important to have an experienced products liability attorney inspect the vehicle for potential safety restraint and related defects.
- Individuals over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer from SCIs, but there are many types of falls that can lead to serious injury for people of all ages. When such a fall occurs due to slippery substances, holes, or other pitfall or defect, the injured party may have a premises liability action against the landowner for failing to maintain his or her property. Elderly individuals that fall under the supervision of a nursing home or similar facility may also have a negligence action against the facility.
- Acts of violence. Gunshot wounds, person-to-person contact, assault with objects, and other wounds–such as stabbings and explosions—are the third-leading cause of SCIs. A bullet that even grazes the spine can lead to severe injury. Individuals who are harmed by criminals while on the property of a business owner may have a premises liability action for negligent security.
- Sports and recreational activities. SCIs are common during warmer weather due, in part, to diving injuries. Contact sports also pose a higher risk for SCIs.
- Medical and surgical complications. Surgical complications—such as infection—can damage the spinal cord, resulting in an SCI. Individuals that suffer from a condition that weakens the spine, such as arthritis, are more likely to experience a SCI. Individuals who sustain a SCI under this scenario may have a medical malpractice action against the doctor, nurses and / or the hospital that was treating the patient.
- Other causes. Objects falling at high speeds may hit individuals, a common threat at industrial and construction sites. Pedestrians may also suffer from injuries if they are struck by a vehicle whose driver is distracted or are distracted themselves.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that automobile crashes were the leading cause of SCI’s in individuals 45 years old and younger, and falls the leading cause for individuals above the age of 45. Gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes, and diving accidents were found to be more prevalent in men when compared to women.
Although spinal cord injuries may not be the most common of injuries, their impact can be devastating as complete recovery is rare. Our Georgia catastrophic injury lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP have decades of experience in these cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact our team at our Atlanta office by calling 404.998.8847, or call our Savannah office at 912.417.3774.