Catastrophic spinal cord injuries can have life-changing consequences

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by auto accidents or slip-and-fall accidents and may have a significant impact on a person’s life.

People who have been involved in a traumatic car collision or slip-and-fall accident in New Jersey may suffer from devastating neck or spinal cord injuries. Neck and spinal cord damage may have a serious effect on people's lives and in some cases, could mandate life-long medical treatment. People who suffer from these injuries may be unable to return to work, lose the use of certain bodily functions and/or be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of their lives.

How does spinal damage occur?

The delicate spinal cord runs through the middle of the bony vertebral column, which helps to protect it against trauma. Each bone is separated by a gel-like cushion known as an intervertebral disk. A forceful impact may cause these bones to move out of place, crunch together or fracture. The intervertebral disks may rupture or slide out of alignment, and place extra pressure or even pinch the nerves surrounding the spine. In severe cases, broken fragments of bone may sever the spinal cord completely. This can cause permanent neurological defects and paralysis depending on where the spinal cord is damaged.

The effects of spinal cord damage

The signs of spinal cord damage may be noticed immediately following an accident or they may take several days, weeks or months to appear. The injured area may continue to swell and bleed for a period of time after the incident occurs. Some injured victims may not know that they have a problem until a subsequent fall or minor jolt causes even further damage.

Damage to the spinal cord in the neck region could affect a person's ability to use his or her arms or even breathe. This is because all of the areas below the damaged site are likely to become traumatized and lose function as well. Therefore, an injury that damages the nerves of the lower back can affect a person's ability to use his or her legs, as well as perform crucial bladder, bowel and sexual functions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Partnering with an attorney

It may be extremely difficult to deal with a spinal cord injury caused by a negligent driver's actions. You may be struggling with excessive medical bills and emotional trauma while trying to adapt to a new way of life. An attorney in New Jersey who handles personal injury cases may be able to answer any questions you have regarding your claim and help you to explore your legal options.