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Spinal cord injury (SCI) describes any damage to the spinal cord which results in lost function, sensation, or mobility. SCIs are different from other back injuries, such as pinched nerves, ruptured discs, and spinal stenosis, and for SCIs a loss of function is possible without severing the spinal cord, which is the case for most SCI victims.

It is estimated that about 12,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries each year, averaging about 32 per day. Most of these are caused by falls, car or motorcycle accidents, work accidents, and athletic activities, and it’s also estimated about 60% of victims are less than thirty years of age; men make up much of this majority. These injuries can occur in a wide range of accidents, including: aviation accidents, boating accidents, medical malpractice, traffic accidents, slip-and-falls, competitive sports, and workplace accidents. Furthermore, spinal cord injuries are commonly divided into “complete” and “incomplete” injuries:

Complete SCI – This indicates total loss of function, sensation, and voluntary movement below the point of injury.

Incomplete SCI – This indicates some function below the point of injury. These patients may have feeling in parts of the body which can’t be moved, or more feeling and function in one limb or side of the body than the other.

Here are some functional outcomes of severe spinal cord injuries:

C1 – C4 quadriplegia – These involve paralysis of upper and lower extremities, which may also include low endurance, inability to cough, and respiratory compromise due to paralyzed muscles. These patients are heavily dependent on caregivers and some require mechanical ventilation.

C5 quadriplegia – This is the highest form of SCI which still allows patients to drive vehicles with special adaptations, as it involves paralysis of the trunk and lower extremities and some upper extremities. Self-feeding and grooming are possible, though patients generally lack the upper body strength for independent transfers.

C6 quadriplegia – This involves paralysis in the trunk and lower extremities and some lost function in upper extremities. While patients may have respiratory dysfunction due to paralyzed intercostal muscles, independence in feeding, grooming, and other upper body function is possible.

C7 – C8 quadriplegia – These also involve paralysis in the trunk and lower extremities, but with limited grasp and dexterity. Although the respiratory system is impaired, independence in eating, grooming, and manual wheelchair use are usually possible.

T1 – T9 paraplegia – These involve paralysis in the lower trunk and lower extremities, while strength in the upper extremities is preserved, and bowel/bladder function can also be maintained independently.

T10 – L1 paraplegia – These involve paralysis in the lower extremities, but patients also have full respiratory function and potential for improved ambulation (physical movement).

L2 – S5 paraplegia – These involve partial paralysis in the lower extremities. Bowel/bladder function can be maintained independently and four-point devices can be used for movement.

Due to lost sensation and motor function, spinal cord injuries may result in bowel/bladder dysfunction and a loss of other involuntary functions, such as the ability to breathe, which may necessitate a mechanical ventilator. Other effects of SCIs can include chronic pain, low blood pressure, inability to effectively regulate blood pressure and/or body temperature, and inability to sweat below the point of injury.

While there is no definitive cure for a spinal cord injury, many medical advances have been made and some are able to decrease damage at the time of injury. These include steroid drugs to reduce swelling, which is a major cause of secondary damage. Some victims of incomplete SCIs are able to regain some function as late as eighteen months after the initial injury, though only a small fraction of SCI victims recover all function in their lifetimes.

Victims of spinal cord injuries often suffer substantial economic and non-economic losses, such as long-term medical care/expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering (physical and/or emotional), and lost quality of life. Remember: under Illinois law, injury victims have up to two (2) years to file a personal injury claim. However, it is imperative to speak with an attorney as soon as possible following the accident to determine your case’s worth and how to earn maximum compensation.

Some accident victims may expect to file an immediate lawsuit, march into court, and be awarded a large chunk of money from the jury, but this is rarely how the process occurs. There are ways to earn your compensation without this type of litigation, and the few cases which do go to trial usually involve very serious injuries. Our attorneys will negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the best-possible settlement for your losses, which is likely to end in your favor without the need for a jury trial.

If or when these negotiations are ineffective for the injured party, there are other viable options, such as filing personal injury claims in civil court or pursuing “alternative dispute resolutions (ADRs)” such as mediation and arbitration. Your attorney will advise you regarding these potential options and what will be best for your case.

We at Agruss Law Firm are proud to serve our fellow citizens in personal injury cases, especially when you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, and we are fully committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that the other party is held legally accountable when negligence occurs. We will fight until the very end to ensure that you are fully compensated for all injuries and losses resulting from the accident, and you won’t owe us a dime for our services.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, contact Agruss Law Firm today for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based personal injury law firm, and helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will file your claim and take care of the insurance company, the bills, and the lost income. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, our personal injury lawyers are not paid attorney fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.

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