At Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., our compassionate and skillful attorneys represent clients who have suffered trauma to the spinal cord due to another person’s negligence. However, before a legal professional can provide the best possible representation for a client, they must first understand the root cause of an injury, as well as the extent of an individual’s losses.

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident and suffered severe trauma to the spine, enlisting the help of a Michigan spinal cord injury lawyer might be essential. After an accident, you might be overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. A legal professional who has experience with these claims could help to explain your rights, answer your questions, and guide you through the ensuing claims process.

Understanding Spinal Trauma

Trauma to the spinal cord usually begins with a sudden, severe blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. Most injuries to the spinal cord do not completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons, extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body. An injury to this area can damage a few, many, or almost all of these axons. As a result, some cases of damage will allow almost complete recovery, while others may result in complete paralysis.

Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. In fact, respiratory complications are often an indication of the severity of the damage. About one-third of those with injury to the neck area will need help with breathing and require respiratory support. The steroid drug methylprednisolone appears to reduce the damage to nerve cells if it is given within the first 8 hours after injury. Rehabilitation programs combine physical therapies with skill-building activities and counseling to provide social and emotional support.

How These Injuries Happen

Spinal cord injuries are often the result of unintentional acts by other people or corporations. When an injury is due to someone else’s negligence, the victim can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injury. Common reasons for these severe injuries include:

When these or other negligent acts result in severe trauma, a Michigan spinal cord injury lawyer could help an injured individual to pursue compensation against the at-fault party.

Classifications of Injuries

Damage to the spinal cord is classified as either complete or incomplete. An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost. People with incomplete injuries retain some motor or sensory function below the damaged area.

A complete injury, on the other hand, is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. People who survive these injuries will most likely have medical complications, such as chronic pain and bladder and bowel dysfunction, along with an increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems. Successful recovery depends upon how well these chronic conditions are handled day to day.

There are many great organizations and support groups for spinal cord injury patients. These include national organizations and local Michigan support groups. Patients with new injuries and their families should look to these groups for support, resources for treatment, and counseling. Furthermore, enlisting the help of a hardworking spinal cord injury lawyer in Michigan might help an injured individual determine if they have grounds for a legal claim.

Common Back Injuries

Because the spinal cord is central for so much of a person’s functionality, damage to this area can result in severe injuries. These are broken down into multiple categories, including:

  • Anterior cord syndrome—injury to the front of the spinal cord resulted in motor and sensory pathways from the brain to the spinal cord
  • Central cord syndrome—injury to the center of the spinal cord and damages nerves that carry signals from the brain to the spinal cord. This can result in the loss of fine motor skills, paralysis of the arms, and partial impairment in the legs. It can also cause bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome—injury to one side of the spinal cord. The injury to the victim varies based upon the severity and location of the damage

Treatment for these injuries can often reduce pain and help increase activity, but many times the victim is unable to return to work at or all or misses substantial time from work after back surgery. There is also often a need for assistance around the home during the period of recovery and assistance with activities of daily living. However, due to the costs of these and other accident-related expenses, an injured individual might wish to pursue compensation with the help of a spinal cord injury attorney in Michigan.

Herniated Discs

Another common back injury, especially from trauma, is a herniated disc. The spine is made up of a series of connected bones called “vertebrae”. The disc is a combination of strong connective tissues which hold one vertebra to the next, and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. The disc is made of a tough outer layer called the “annulus fibrosus” and a gel-like center called the “nucleus pulposus.”

Through trauma, like an accident, the center of the disc may lose water content, making the disc less effective as a cushion. This may cause a displacement of the disc’s center (called a herniated or ruptured disc) through a crack in the outer layer. A herniated lumbar disc can press on the nerves in the spine and may cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness of the leg called “sciatica”. A herniated lumbar disc may also cause back pain, although back pain alone (without leg pain) can have many causes other than a herniated disc. Herniated discs are typically diagnosed through an MRI or CT scan. At first, doctors will treat the injury conservatively with physical therapy, manipulation, and steroid injections. They also often prescribe pain medications and exercise for the patient.

Treatment for Back Injuries

If conservative non-surgical treatment of a spinal cord injury is not effective, the next step is usually surgery. This is performed either by an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon, with the goal being to make the herniated disc stop pressing on and irritating the nerves, causing symptoms of pain and weakness. The most common procedure is called a “discectomy” or “partial discectomy,” in which part of the herniated disc is removed.  After a successful surgery, an individual can expect a reduction in pain and tingling in their legs and, with physical therapy, they can often return to work and recreational activities.

Seek the Services of a Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

If you were involved in an accident and suffered severe spinal trauma, you have legal options and should consider consulting a well-versed attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. for help. Throughout the state, there is a deadline known as the statute of limitations that is placed on an injury claim. For claims arising from spinal injuries, this deadline will depend on the proximate cause of the incident.

For example, motor vehicle crashes, or trip and fall accidents will usually have a three-year time limit. However, other cases, such as those stemming from medical malpractice will typically have a two-year deadline. The deadlines can be extended for minor children and legally incapacitated persons, so it is important to discuss your case with our attorneys as soon as possible to avoid missing a cutoff deadline.

Because of this, contacting a Michigan spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible following an accident could prove to be essential. To learn more, reach out to a legal professional today to schedule a free case review.

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