No one living in the Charleston, SC area expects to suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI). However, serious accidents happen without warning, and it is difficult to prepare for the immediate aftermath of an injury to the back or neck. To be sure, whether you are walking downtown on Queen Street and are struck in a pedestrian accident or are driving on I-526 when you are involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you could suffer a debilitating spinal cord injury. SCIs occur in numerous kinds of accidents, and it is important to seek medical attention in order to receive the treatment you will need to begin the healing process.
At the Joye Law Firm, we know how costly a spinal cord injury can be. Indeed, these serious personal injuries can take years off a Charleston resident’s life, and they can also result in very expensive medical bills, surgeries, and rehabilitation therapy. If you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury, you should learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation by discussing your case with a dedicated spinal cord injury attorney in Charleston.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
As we mentioned, SCIs can happen as a result of many different kinds of accidents. Before you get a sense of the important steps to take after sustaining a spinal cord injury, it is important to understand what this frequently debilitating injury entails. What are spinal cord injuries? According to a fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic, SCIs “result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks of the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself.”
And not all damage will occur in the immediate minutes following the injury. To be sure, the Mayo Clinic fact sheet indicates that “additional damage usually occurs over days or weeks because of bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation in and around your spinal cord. When significant damage occurs, a person’s functions can be severely impaired. Spinal cord injuries can impact some of the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Torso movement;
- Leg movement;
- Arm movement;
- Control of the bowel and/or bladder;
- Sexual function; and
- Ability to breathe normally.
To better understand what you can do after sustaining a spinal cord injury, you should know how these severe personal injuries often occur.
How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?
For most Charleston residents, you are not anticipating that you will require treatment for a spinal cord injury when you drive to work in the morning or walk into your local Harris Teeter for groceries. In other words, these injuries happen in many different scenarios. According to the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association and the Mayo Clinic, the following incidents are among the most common reasons for a serious spinal cord injury:
- Car accidents (about 35 percent of all annual spinal cord injuries;
- Slip and fall accidents (about 25 percent of SCIs each year);
- Violence (approximately 15 percent of new SCI cases);
- Sports and other recreational activities (just under 10 percent of all spinal cord injuries reported annually).
In about 25 percent of all SCI cases, the use or presence of alcohol contributes to the accident. In some cases, the liable party may have consumed alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel of a car, for instance. In other cases, the injury victim may have consumed alcohol prior to the incident.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Your Injuries
Now that you know how most people sustain SCIs, it is important to know what to do in the event that you or a loved one gets hurt. The very first step you should take following a potential spinal cord injury is to see a doctor. The sooner you seek medical attention for a spinal cord injury, the more likely that you may be able to recover fully.
For Charleston residents, The Center for Spinal Cord Injury is a “one-stop site for care” for those who have suffered debilitating SCIs. The Center describes itself as a “unique collaboration” among several different entities in the Charleston area, including the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Carolinas Rehabilitation, and the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund (SCIRF). The Center for Spinal Cord Injury is housed within the Roper Hospital, which is located at 316 Calhoun Street in Charleston. What types of services does the Center provide in the immediate aftermath of a SCI? The website lists the following:
- Assessments from physicians and nurses;
- Laboratory tests;
- Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) evaluations;
- Educational and information sessions about spinal cord injuries;
- Case management specialists;
- Recreational therapy for patients with SCIs;
- Driving programs;
- Wound care;
- Pharmacy; and
- Peer support programs.
Given that the Center is only open two days per month, it is important to make an appointment after you have seen an emergency department physician or another doctor. If you cannot see a specialist immediately and you suspect you might have suffered a spinal cord injury, you should seek treatment in an emergency department as soon as possible.
File a Lawsuit to Seek Compensation
After you have seen a healthcare provider, your next step after a spinal cord injury is to discuss your case with an experienced Charleston personal injury attorney. According to a fact sheet from the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund, the rate of traumatic SCIs in our state is actually 22 percent higher than the national average when it comes to these serious injuries. And in many cases, SCIs result from another party’s negligence or bad act. An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer in Charleston can help you to file a claim as soon as possible.
Depending on how your SCI occurred, you may be able to file different forms of personal injury claims, including but not limited to:
- Auto accident lawsuit;
- Premises liability, or slip and fall, claim;
- Product liability lawsuit; and
- Medical malpractice claim.
Under South Carolina law, most Charleston plaintiffs who suffer injuries because of another party’s negligence generally have only three years from the date of the incident to file a claim for financial compensation.
Contact a Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer
If you recently suffered a spinal cord injury, an experienced personal injury lawyer in Charleston can help you to file a lawsuit. Contact the Joye Law Firm today for more information about how we can assist with your case.