Types of Spinal Cord Injuries and Potential Compensation
Your spinal cord is one of the most important pieces of your body. The long, thin collection of nerves allows your body to communicate with your brain, and your brain to control and regulate your bodily functions. Any type of damage to this vital piece of anatomy can lead to serious repercussions, including paralysis, pain, and permanent disability.
Not all spinal cord injuries are the same. Most injuries happen after a person experiences a sudden, violent injury, either directly to the spine or to other parts of the body. Some of these injuries can be relatively minor, while others can be life-altering and leave a person with disabling injuries. In any situation where someone suffers a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional harm, the injured person could be entitled to recover compensation.
So, let’s take a look at spinal cord injuries and the potential compensation involved.
Complete or Incomplete Injuries
The bones in your spine, called vertebrae, act like armor. Joined together, they protect the tissues and nerves of your spinal column and allow you to move freely without causing damage to these highly sensitive areas.
In the most serious spinal cord injuries, the vertebrae that protect the cord itself are damaged. This essentially destroys your body’s natural protection and leads to serious spinal cord damage. This kind of injury can cause a person to lose sensation or control over different parts of his or her body. For example, if your spinal cord is damaged in a certain area you could lose control over your legs or even all parts of your body below the neck or chest. These types of injuries are known as complete injuries because a person loses all sensation and motor control to at least one area of the body as a result of the damage to the spinal cord.
On the other hand, an incomplete spinal cord injury is not as serious as a complete injury. People with an incomplete spinal cord injury are still able to feel and move different parts of their body, but the injury limits their ability to some extent.
In other words, incomplete injuries limit a person’s ability to control or feel different parts of the body, while complete injuries make it impossible to do so.
Because the spinal cord is such a sensitive and complicated part of your anatomy, spinal cord injuries are notorious for their different effects. No two spinal cord injuries are identical, and while complete injuries are often more severe, incomplete injuries can still result in significant damage that leaves a person permanently disabled.
Though the specific amount and type of compensation involved in any spinal cord case will differ, judges and juries typically look at two main categories.
Economic. The person who suffers a spinal cord injury can be awarded compensation—known as damages—because that person had to pay medical bills or because he or she was unable to keep working. These are called economic damages because they have easily identifiable values associated with them.
Non-economic. Spinal cord injuries can also result in compensation for aspects of a person’s life that aren’t easy to put a dollar figure on. Often known as “pain-and-suffering damages,” non-economic damages include payments for the physical pain the injured person experiences, the loss of enjoyment he or she gets out of life because of the injury, or the emotional and psychological trauma the injury caused.