The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system and consists of hard bones protecting soft tissues. It relays information between the brain and the rest of the body.
During a car accident, the back area may receive a heavy, traumatic blow leading to damaged vertebrae or soft tissue in the spinal cord.
If vertebrae break or become dislocated, nerves are prevented from being able to operate properly. This is likely to have serious and life-altering consequences.
There are several types of back and spinal injuries, some of which are permanent and others that are transient and respond to the right medical interventions.
Types of Back & Spinal Injuries
Paralysis occurs when nerves are completely blocked, preventing any brain signals from reaching certain parts of the body (e.g. one side of the body or the entire region below the injury).
Quadriplegia or tetraplegia affects all limbs and usually results from an injury in the cervical vertebrae or neck region.
Paraplegia affects the legs and pelvic region (but there is still motor function in the arms) and usually results from an injury lower in the back
Any type of paralysis will require extensive medical care and may require treatment amounting to many millions of dollars.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
With incomplete spinal cord injuries, some loss of sensation and motor function is experienced below the injury to the spinal cord. For instance, you can move your legs but not as freely as you should be able to.
Examples of common incomplete spinal cord injuries include:
Herniated or “slipped” disks – where one of the disks between the vertebrae in the back or neck ruptures and, as a result, protrudes and causes calcified scar tissue to put pressure on the spinal nerves. This leads to weakness, pain and numbness, especially in the arms and legs.
Pinched nerves – trauma to the back can lead to pinched nerves, interfering with their function and causing pain to radiate to other parts of the body, as well as numbness and loss of motor control.
Chronic back pain – if your back pain lasts for a few months or more, despite receiving medical treatment, it is referred to as “chronic pain”.
What to expect from a spinal cord injury lawsuit in Texas
If you file a lawsuit in Texas against the at-fault party for a spinal cord injury, the success of your compensation claim will largely depend on the experience and skills of the spinal cord injury lawyer representing you.
Your lawyer will need to prove the negligence of the at-fault party. That is to say, you will need to prove that the other party failed to fulfill the accepted duties of care as required in the situation.
For a car accident, this might be that the at-fault party was distracted while driving or was driving under the influence of alcohol.
If you file a lawsuit against a driver in a car accident, you can expect to proceed as follows:
The insurance claim
You firstly file an injury claim with the insurance company of the other driver, with a full report of the accident in as much detail as possible.
The negotiation stage
Providing the insurance company accepts your claim, the negotiation stage begins in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
This can be challenging without a lawyer because the insurance company will likely try to minimize your settlement, delay payment, or try to get you to accept some of the fault.
The personal injury lawsuit
Your lawyer will file a personal injury claim with the courts. This can be settled without further court intervention if the insurance company agrees to your claim.
However, if it is challenged and negotiation does not settle it, you will need to file a lawsuit in the civil court or county where the accident occurred (this must be within two years of the accident).
The defendant’s response
The defendant will either offer you a better settlement or decide to defend themselves in court.
This is generally avoided due to the threat of having to pay high legal costs and greater compensation than settling out of court.
The case goes to court
You fight for the compensation you deserve in court, presenting your case to a judge or jury with all the evidence you have gathered (evidence from the accident scene, medical records, witness statements, etc.)
Each spinal cord injury case is different. It’s best to involve your car accident lawyer as soon as possible so that you can present the strongest possible case to the court, if necessary.
Ryan DeHoyos is an experienced Houston-based personal injury lawyer. Recognized as a “Rising Star” on Super Lawyers (2019), Ryan DeHoyos can help secure the compensation you deserve so that you can move on with your life in the knowledge that you have received some measure of justice. He represents clients who have been injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or any other type of accident and gets them the compensation they deserve. Call him at (832) 745-4878 for a free consultation.
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