Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

Every year, an estimated 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports, and an array of medical issues are commonly to blame and can result in catastrophic injuries and death. Damage to the nerves and tissues along the vertebrae often cause debilitating pain and typically require a long recovery period. Additionally, the psychological and physical adjustments required after a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming for the entire family, sometimes resulting in depression and anxiety.

Spinal cord injuries occur when either the nerves attached to the spinal column or the bones and soft tissues enmeshed in the spinal cord are damaged. These nerves are vital in transporting messages from the brain to the rest of the body, controlling everything from movement to digestion to breath. This impairment can include numbness, loss of feeling, or complete paralysis.

What Are the Two Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The nervous system is extremely complex. Spinal cord injuries can have very different effects on the body, depending on the severity and location of the injury. The two categories of spinal cord injury are:

  • Complete Injury – This is when physical trauma to the spinal cord results in absolute loss of function or sensation below the site of the injury.
  • Incomplete Injury – This occurs when the victim is left with some sensation or motor function.

The site of trauma typically determines the extent of nerve damage. Full paralysis, or quadriplegia, is often the result of trauma to the neck area, preventing nerves from carrying the brain’s impulses beyond the damaged part of the spine. Paraplegia – partial paralysis of the lower half of the body – usually occurs when the lower vertebrae are damaged.

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

In some cases, such as when a spinal cord injury results from a sports-related accident, there is no little to no legal basis for pursuing a lawsuit. However, if the injury was caused by any of the scenarios below, there may be cause for a lawsuit.

  • Negligence – spinal cord damage caused by a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or any other accident resulting from another’s carelessness. In negligence cases, it must be proven that the defendant’s lack of care for the victim’s well-being directly resulted in the injury.
  • Medical Malpractice – surgical mistakes, misdiagnosis, or any other type of careless act by a physician or other healthcare provider.
  • Defective Product – faulty airbags, seatbelts, tires, or other essential parts of a vehicle. A defective product lawsuit may result in compensation from the designer, manufacturer, or retailer involved with the sale of the vehicle.


  • Of all spinal cord injuries in the United States, approximately 52% result in paraplegia and 47% result in quadriplegia.
  • Approximately 56% of spinal cord injuries occur in individuals between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • The four leading causes of spinal cord injuries are: 1. Motor vehicle accidents (37%) 2. Gunshot wounds (28%) 3. Sports (8%) 4. Falls (2%)
  • Hospitalization for spinal cord injuries lasts an average of 15 days.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Spinal cord injuries can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. If you have suffered this type of injury as a result of another’s negligence, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our team is dedicated to advocating for your rights and helping you obtain the compensation you deserve. We will be with you through every step of the process. Our legal team will examine every detail to determine the best course of action. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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