Spinal cord injuries may occur as a result of a slip and fall, swimming pool accident, car accident, or various other events including medical malpractice. The latter may cause a spinal cord injury due to misdiagnosis resulting in ineffective treatment, surgical errors, or improperly administered spinal anesthetics, as well as other actions. Whatever the circumstances or extent of your injury, we can help to fight for your right to compensation, call us today to speak with a lawyer.
A spine injury is typically the result of trauma that damages the spinal cord, vertebrae, spinal disks, or adjacent soft tissue. Trauma to disks or other soft tissue can cause them to swell and thereby irritate the spinal cord. Disease and birth defects can also injure the spine. There are approximately 12,500 new cases of spinal cord injury each year in the U.S., according to the National SCI Statistical Center.
Traumatic spine injuries are caused by a blow that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more vertebrae in the spinal column, or damages the spinal cord itself. Bleeding, swelling, inflammation and fluid accumulation around the spinal column can make an injury and its effect on the spinal cord worse.
Typical causes of spinal cord injury:
Motor vehicle accidents. Car, truck, motorcycle and other motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spine injuries, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Motor vehicle accidents cause 46% of spinal cord injuries. The violence of being slammed into the structure of a vehicle, the road, ground or other objects in a collision can snap vertebrae and tear the spinal cord. This includes accidents involving large trucks and other pieces of heavy equipment at construction sites.
Falls. Falls, including slip-and-fall accidents, are the second-leading cause of spinal cord injuries, and the leading cause in people over 65 years old. A recent study says that because our country’s population has aged, falls are now the leading cause of spinal cord injury. Falls are also among the most frequent workplace accidents and a particular concern in the construction industry where workers perform job duties at heights and on ladders and scaffolding.
Birth injuries. A baby can suffer injuries during birth if it assumes an unnatural position and forceps or other medical instruments are used with excessive force to assist in the delivery. Hyperextension of the head in breech delivery or transverse presentation, pressure on the infant’s trunk during breech delivery, stress applied to the child’s spinal axis as its body is rotated, or pressure on the spinal cord via the brachial plexus nerves in cases of shoulder dystocia can all damage the spine and spinal cord.
Diving Accidents. Swimmers who dive into water that is too shallow or contains hard debris (stumps, roots, etc.) run a risk of hitting their head with enough force to snap a cervical vertebra or tear their spinal cord. During drought conditions, those who swim in natural bodies of water run an increased risk of spine injuries from diving in too-shallow water.
Trampoline accidents. Young or inexperienced gymnasts under supervision or otherwise using a trampoline recreationally can easily land wrong and wrench their neck or back and damage their spine or adjacent soft tissue. Fractures are the most common “backyard trampoline” accident, with about 2,900 spinal fractures occurring from 2002 to 2011, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.
Other sports and recreation accidents. Sports of all kinds account for about 9 percent of spinal cord injuries, according to the NSCISC. In addition to diving and trampoline accidents, sports with a high risk of spine injury include football; wrestling; horseback riding; winter sports like sledding, snow tubing, ice hockey, snowboarding, and snow skiing; surfing, including body surfing; and gymnastics other than a trampoline.
Violence (assault). Acts of violence, primarily gunshot wounds, cause about 15 percent of spinal cord injuries, according to the NSCISC. Assault with a blunt object and falls after being pushed during an assault, or a penetrating wound from a stabbing or other type of implement can also lead to a spinal injury.
Those who cause accidents or contribute to them through disregard for safety can be held liable for the harm they cause. This includes adults who supervise children in organized sports or other kinds of recreational play, or who leave attractive nuisances such as swimming pools and trampolines unsecured. Workers injured in occupational accidents deserve full workers’ compensation benefits.
In cases of criminal assault, the perpetrator may be held liable through civil legal action, i.e., a lawsuit, in addition to the penalties of criminal law. In cases of assault at public establishments, such as hotels, apartment complexes or shopping centers, a property owner who was negligent in providing appropriate security may be liable for the harm done to a patron or customer.
The use of the limbs after spinal cord injury depends on two issues:
Paralysis occurs below the level of the spinal cord injury. It can be complete – no sensory or motor function below the injury, or incomplete – leaving some feeling and ability to control movement below the level of the injury.
Any type of spinal cord injury may cause all or some of the following symptoms:
Paralysis can result from spinal cord injury. Generally, the higher on the spine the injury occurs, the greater the affected area. The level of injury and resulting paralysis can be:
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Under the best of circumstances, the delivery process is a traumatic experience for the newborn. In some cases, doctors cause a birth injury or death to the infant by applying too much force during the delivery process. It is heartbreaking for new parents when a doctor, who has been trusted to assist with the birth process, causes serious injury or even death to a newborn infant in a case of medical malpractice.
An article entitled Latent Spinal Cord and Brain Stem Injury in Newborn Infantspublished in the medical journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurologystates that spinal cord and brain stem injuries occur frequently during birth, but often escape diagnosis. The article states that children who survive a birth injury may have lasting neurologic defects. The occurrence of brain stem or spinal cord injury in 10 to 33 percent of all autopsied neonatal deaths indicates the significance of this form of birth trauma.
Medscape reports that significant birth injury occurs at an average rate of 6 to 8 injuries per 1000 live births, with higher injury rates reported for larger babies. It lists the following as included among the risk factors for birth trauma:
Spinal cord birth injuries are sometimes misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy – a disorder that can be caused by a birth injury to the brain. The symptoms are similar. Boston Children’s Hospital reports that symptoms of spinal cord injury in children may include:
Anyone who works in the construction industry knows that it is a dangerous occupation and fall hazards are everywhere. Construction workers have to deal with some of the most hazardous conditions of any industry. In spite of federal and New York work safety regulations, accidents still happen every day. Some of those accidents are fatal, and others cause catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury or damage to the spinal cord.
Falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry and a leading cause of serious non-fatal injuries as well. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the hazards of falling from roofs, ladders, scaffolds, and other high elevations. According to OSHA, working at a height of 6 feet or more puts workers at greater risk of injury or death in a fall.
As stated in an OSHA publication: The majority of accidents that occur in the general industry are slips, trips, and falls.
In the year 2012, 75 occupational fatalities were reported in New York City, 21 of which were caused by slips, trips, and falls, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of all the occupational categories, construction and mining had the highest number of on-the-job fatalities – 25 – and slips, trips, and falls accounted for 13 of those deaths.
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The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) of the University of Alabama at Birmingham reports facts and figures about spinal cord injuries, updated as of 2013:
construction accidentsConstruction accidents are, unfortunately, all too common, and a large proportion of the injuries involve falls. Many types of injury can occur from falls, and among the most devastating are spinal cord injuries.
Injury to the spinal cord may be complete or incomplete. With incomplete spinal cord injury, the victim retains some movement and sensation below the injury. With complete spinal cord injury, there is paralysis below the injury, leaving the victim paraplegic or quadriplegic for life. In addition to the personal trauma, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life, the monetary cost of a spinal cord injury can be astronomical, as seen in the NSCISC statistics above.
If you have suffered a spinal injury from a fall or any other type of accident injury, help is available to pursue the relief you need. At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in all types of catastrophic injuries. Our legal team can evaluate your case and help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
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I cannot recommend Jon Damashek highly enough. I attribute the favorable outcome to my case to his consummate and tireless dedication and tenacity. Just as important, he was truly there with me every step of the way. He was very…
I had the opportunity to work with Jon Damashek and had an amazing experience. I have known Jon for many years and always felt very comfortable relying on his expertise and knowledge of the law and more importantly his ability…
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