Spinal Cord Injury


A spinal cord injury (SCI) is any type of damage to the central nervous system housed within the spinal cord. The spine is responsible for sending signals back and forth between the body and the brain. It is your spine that allows you to move and feel different sensations. Injuries to the spinal cord can break this connection and interrupt one’s ability to move and feel below the point of damage. Spine injuries are serious and often leave victims permanently paralyzed. Car and motorcycle accidents account for more than 35% of new spinal cord injuries each year. Such a catastrophic form of injury comes with its own laws in the civil system. In legal terms, a “catastrophic” injury is one that leaves permanent damage, pain, or disability to the victim. Spine injuries, brain trauma, and amputations are examples of these types of injuries. Due to the extreme nature of these injuries, the law takes them very seriously. It is important, however, to retain an attorney with experience handling catastrophic injury accidents.

C1-C4 Spinal Injury

  • most severe of the spinal cord injury levels
  • paralysis in arms, hands, trunk, and legs
  • patient may not be able to breathe on his or her own, cough, or control bowel/bladder movements

C5 Spinal Injury

  • Victims of this type of injury are likely to have some or total paralysis of the wrists, hands, trunk, and legs
  • Can speak and use diaphragm, but breathing will be weakened
  • will need assistance with most daily activities, but will likely be able to move from one place to another independently with the assistance of a power chair

C6 Spinal Injury

  • wrist extension is affected
  • paralysis typically found in hands, trunk, and legs
  • weakened breathing
  • can move in and out of wheelchair and bed with assistive equipment
  • will be able to drive an adapted vehicle
  • involuntarily control of bladder and/or bowel, but may be manageable with special equipment

 C7 Spinal Injury

  • can control elbow extension and some finder extension
  • will be able to drive an adapted vehicle 
  • little to no voluntary control of bowel and bladder movements, but may be manageable with special equipment 

C8 Spinal Injury

    • should be able to grasp and release objects 
    • can do most daily activities independently, but may need assistance with more difficult tasks
    • may be able to drive adapted vehicle
    • little or no voluntary control of bowel or bladder, but may be able to manage with special equipment 

T1-T5 Spinal Injury

  • muscles, upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles are affected
  • arm and hand function is usually normal 
  • most likely to use a manual wheelchair
  • can learn to drive a. modified car
  • may walk with braces

T6-T12 Spinal Injury

  • affect muscles of the trunk (abdominal and back muscles) depending on the level of injury
  • typically results in paraplegia 
  • normal upper-body movement
  • ability t control and balance trunk while in the seated position
  • little to no voluntary control or bowel or bladder movements, but manageable with special equipment
  • can learn to drive a modified car 
  • may be able to walk with braces

L1-L5 Spinal Injury

  • Injuries generally result in some loss of function in the hips and legs 
  • little or no voluntary control of bowel or bladder, but can manage independently with special equipment 
  • depending on strength in the legs, the injured may need  a wheelchair and may also walk with braces

S1-S5 Spinal Injury

  • injuries generally result in some loss of function in the hips and legs 
  • little or no voluntary control of bowel or bladder, but can manage on one’s own with the assistance of special equipment 
  • most likely will be able to walk 

Pain and Suffering Damages in Spine Injury Claims

“Pain and Suffering” is a type of non-economic damage available in the majority of personal injury claims. It allows a person to recover for the physical pain and emotional suffering a victim has sustained as a result of his or her injuries. Spine injury cases can dig much deeper than general pain and suffering. Since most victims will never be able to stand, walk, work, go to the bathroom, eat, or even breathe on his or her own after a spine injury. The courts tend to award damages beyond what you might see in another type of injury claim. Damages can include:

  • lost quality of life
  • loss of spousal intimacy 
  • lost capacity to earn
  • loss of consortium (for family of the victim)

Through our work in personal injury law, we have established strong relationships with highly respected medical specialists who will testify in court if necessary. We also work closely with accident reconstruction who can help us build a strong case. Expert testimony allows victims of these injuries and their families to be fully compensated for the damages they have suffered, including the comprehensive costs of the following:

  • treatment
  • rehabilitation
  • premanent disability
  • loss of income
  • emotional trauma
  • lifelong care
  • pain and suffering

To find out which damages you can recover, talk to one of our Spinal Cord Injury lawyers at Murphy Law Firm. We will help guide you and your family through the legal process – Call (225)928-8800 or visit our office for a free consultation.



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