By Pendergast Law on February 12, 2011
Motor vehicle accidents cause all kinds of injuries, possibly the most debilitating and tragic is a spinal cord injury. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of all spinal cord injury cases were the result of auto or truck accidents. Tragically, the majority of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) victims are young men between the ages of 16 and 30.
A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) occurs when a sudden and traumatic blow to a person’s spine fractures, crushes or dislocates a part of his or her vertebrae. The effects of SCI depend on the type of injury and the level of the injury. SCI can be divided into two types of injury – complete and incomplete. A complete injury means that there is no function below the level of the injury, no sensation and no voluntary movement.
An incomplete injury means that there is some functioning below the primary level of the injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved, or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other. With the advances in acute treatment of SCI, incomplete injuries are becoming more common.
Given the many health complications of SCI injury, as well as its long-term nature, suffering from a spinal cord injury is very expensive. It is estimated by the CDC that the annual average medical cost ranges from $15,000 – $30,000. And, where the spinal cord injury is permanent, lifetime costs are estimated to be from $500,000 to more than $3 million.
While some spinal cord injury cases could have been prevented or reduced if the victim had used a seatbelt or taken proper precautions, there are also instances when the motor vehicle defects or improper maintenance is the culprit, such as:
- Rollovers. Rollovers can happen in any automobile, but are most common in SUVs and other vehicles with a narrow wheelbase and high center of gravity. The rollover causes the roof to collapse, coming into contact with the head, neck, and spine of the occupants leading to SCI injuries.
- Seatbelt Failures. Faulty seatbelt design or use can lead to seatbelts that rip apart, don’t fit tightly enough, and unlatch during impact, failing to restrain passengers and send them hurtling into windows and roofs or being thrown from the vehicle.
- Power Windows. Many cars manufactured in the United States do not come with a safety feature that causes a power window to retract when it comes into contact with an obstruction. As a result, young children suffer from serious neck injuries every year.
- Roof Collapse. This usually happens when an automobile rolls over, but high-speed rear-end collisions can also cause the roof to collapses in on the heads of the occupants, causing debilitating injury to the spinal cord.
- Seat Back Collapse. A faulty seatback will collapse upon impact, causing the occupant to be ejected from the car.
- Suspension Defects. Suspension defects cause issues with steering, causing the vehicle to lose control. In some cases suspension defects can cause rollovers and the injuries that go along with them.
- Tire Tread Separations. Tire tread separations cause a vehicle to quickly lose control, causing collisions, rollovers, and the spinal injuries that accompany these types of accidents.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim and get compensation for your injuries. If you think you have a claim contact our Seattle personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. You obtain the best possible legal services at the time of your injury without having to pay money out of your pocket for legal services. No recovery means no attorney fee.