About 270,000 people in the U.S. live with spinal cord injury, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) says. Car, truck and motorcycle accidents and slip and falls are all common causes of these injuries. According to the NSCISC, more than 40 percent of SCI victims suffer from paraplegia.
Paraplegia describes complete or incomplete paralysis (the loss of movement and/or sensation following damage to the spinal cord). Paraplegia can impact the legs and possibly the trunk. The extent to which the paraplegia injury affects the trunk depends on where the spinal cord is sustained. Paraplegia does not involve paralysis of the arms.
If you or a family member suffers from paraplegia, you may be eligible for compensation. To learn about your rights and options, call the North Carolina personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran today at (800) 434-8399 or complete our online form. We serve clients throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Fayetteville. We can provide a free review of your case.
What is Paraplegia?
“Paraplegia” is a term that describes the inability to voluntarily move lower parts of the body. The areas of impaired mobility usually include the legs, feet and toes. The abdomen may be impacted as well.
Paraplegia is a type of spinal cord injury (SCI). An SCI is described according to the lowest point on the spinal cord below which there is a decrease or absence of feeling and/or movement. Paraplegia results from an SCI ranging from T2 (the second thoracic vertebrae) to S5 (fifth sacral vertebrae).
Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that is often described as incomplete or complete.
Incomplete paralysis differs from one person to another. This is because the amount of damage to each person’s spinal cord and nerves will vary. A person with incomplete paraplegia may have feeling but little or no movement. Others may have movement and little or no feeling.
Complete paraplegia means there is no motor or sensory function in the S4 or S5 (anal) area.
There is a greater chance of return of some or all of a person’s motor and sensory function if their paralysis is incomplete at the time of injury.
Over the long term, paraplegia can lead to loss of function in any body system controlled by the nerves that have been damaged, including:
- Respiratory (breathing difficulty)
- Urinary or gastrointestinal (bladder and bowel dysfunction)
- Circulatory (inability to regulate blood pressure effectively)
- Reproductive (sexual dysfunction).
Doctors and therapists who treat paraplegia victims refer to “functional goals.” Functional goals are realistic expectations of activity levels that a paraplegic should eventually be able to achieve. In some cases, therapy can enable the paraplegia victim to regain some sensory (feeling) or functional (movement) ability.
A medical and rehabilitation team helps the patient to learn new ways to manage the patient’s daily activities and stay healthy. A paraplegic must learn to manage bladder and bowel functions differently and learn to pay particular attention to changes in their skin tone or breathing that may indicate the development of circulatory or respiratory problems.
A paraplegia patient faces a life-altering injury. It can be a difficult and expensive recovery. A paraplegic will likely need therapy and assistive devices, like a wheelchair, to resume daily activities. It’s estimated that lifetime treatment for a paraplegia patient who was injured at age 25 will cost from $1.5 to $2.2 million.
The Challenges of a North Carolina Paraplegia Claim
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of spinal cord injury in the U.S. include:
- Motor vehicle accidents – More than 40 percent of new SCIs every year are the result of car and motorcycle accidents.
- Falls – More than 25 percent of SCIs are the result of falls. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says falls are the leading cause of deaths resulting from injuries suffered in accidents among Americans over the age of 65.
- Disease – Cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis can also cause SCIs and paraplegic paralysis.
If you or a loved one suffers from paraplegia due to a work-related accident or illness, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. To file workers’ compensation claim, you do not need to show that anyone was at fault. However, you do need to make sure you follow all of the complex requirements for filing such a claim.
In some cases, you may be able to bring a personal injury action. This does require a showing of fault. You would need to demonstrate:
- The defendant had an obligation to ensure your safety (such as in the case of business open to the public, an employer responsible for the safety of a jobsite or a driver obligated to follow the rules of the road).
- The defendant did not meet that obligation by taking “reasonable care.”
- The defendant’s lack of reasonable care led to your injury.
Our Raleigh Paraplegic Injury Lawyers Are Ready To Help
Hardison & Cochran provides legal help to those who suffer from paraplegia. Contact us today for a free case review. We can help you determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits or whether it would be in your best interests to pursue a personal injury action against the business, employer or driver who is at fault for your injury. Call (800) 434-8399 or take a moment to fill out our online form. We’re ready to get started right away.