Often the result of a crushing blow to the spine is paralysis; a severe blow may paraplegia (paralysis of the lower extremities) or, worse, it may result in quadriplegia (affecting all of the limbs). Quadriplegia is also called tetraplegia. Most often this type of injury is the result of a car accident or other severe blow to the back, but sadly, gunshot wounds are becoming a leading causes of paralysis.
Approximately 11,000 people a year sustain spinal cord injuries. Of these 11,000, 47% are diagnosed with quadriplegia. Over 250,000 Americans are living paralyzed at younger and younger ages; the median age, for a victim of quadriplegia, is 32. Once the spinal cord is damaged, the brain and the body are not able to talk to each other as well as they used to; in some instances, they can’t talk at all. When the signals are being transmitted and nothing is received, you have paralysis.
The spinal cord has five segments: coccygeal and sacral regions, lumbar, thoracic and cervical. Where an injury is sustained will tell doctors the extent of paralysis. Generally speaking loss of mobility happens below the site of the injury. In other words, for quadriplegia, the victim would sustain injuries in the cervical/thoracic region.
Quadriplegia may also be diagnosed as incomplete or complete. An incomplete injury generally gives a partial loss of sensation and body functions. These are the most common injuries. A complete injury is a total loss of body function and feeling below the injury. It is rare for the spinal cord to be completely severed; it is usually severely damaged instead.
These are awful, life changing, injuries; they often require lifetime care, medical and nursing services. They require expensive home modifications and orthopedic tools and appliances. Tort reform, as proposed by corporate interests represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, disguised as citizens groups ("Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse", both at the state and national level), would restrict recovery of damages to artificially low numbers, making you, the taxpayers, responsible for the lion’s share of the victims’ lifetime care. Think about this the next time someone tells you about "lawsuit abuse" or "frivolous lawsuits" or "jackpot justice". How many of you would trade money for quadriplegia?
If you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, and are suffering financially while waiting for the case to resolve, you may wish to investigate lawsuit funding. Spinal cord injury victims require substantial assistance; this is enormously expensive, and, coupled with ordinary bills and expenses (mortgage, rent, car payments, etc.) create impossible financial dilemmas, while waiting for litigation to resolve. Lawsuit funding allows the victim and their family access to a lawsuit cash advance, paying medical bills and other expenses now, while waiting for case resolution. A financially desperate plaintiff is not a positive influence on settlement negotiations; legal finance will permit the family to wait out the long, legal process for a proper case resolution by settlement or verdict. This prevents a settlement from occurring to soon for too little compensation.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.