According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), auto accidents account for 36.5% of new paralysis cases each year. This makes car, truck, and motorcycle crashes the leading cause of paralysis among adults.
Paralysis After a Car Accident
Paralysis refers to the inability to move parts of the body, and paralysis from a car accident is typically caused by damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a long, fragile tube-like structure running from the end of the brain down along the spine. The nerves on the spinal cord send and receive messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
When a person is paralyzed, he typically experiences one of the following:
- The brain can't send or receive signals in an area of the body.
- The brain can sense touch and other sensations but can't adequately respond.
- The brain can't relay a signal to a particular area.
There are four main types of paralysis associated with car accident injuries:
- Monoplegia. Paralysis of a single area of the body, such as one arm or leg
- Hemiplegia. Paralysis of an arm and a leg on the same side of the body
- Paraplegia. Paralysis below the waist, affecting limbs as well as the bowels and sex organs
- Quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Paralysis below the neck, affecting all of the limbs as well as the torso
Treatment for Paralysis
Some patients might see improvement in the months following their injury as swelling goes down and the nerves become less compressed. However, once a nerve has been severed or severely damaged, it can't be replaced.
Treatment for paralysis focuses on helping the patient learn to live as independently as possible. Treatments vary according to the type of paralysis the patient is experiencing but might include:
- Use of wheelchairs, braces, or other assistive devices
- Voice-activated equipment to control various aspects of the home environment such as locking doors and operating lights
- Specially adapted computers for communication, entertainment, and work
- Cars with adapted controls to allow for driving
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles
- Medication to cope with neuropathic pain
- Muscle relaxers to minimize muscle spasms
- Blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots
- A ventilator for assisted breathing
- A catheter to assist with emptying the bladder
- Counseling to help with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other emotional effects of the accident
Lifetime medical costs for paralysis treatment can easily exceed $1 million, with estimated medical costs for a young adult with quadriplegia topping out at nearly $5 million.
If your paralysis is due to a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, you can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for accident-related expenses. Your claim can include:
- Past medical expenses, including diagnostic tests, physical therapy, and a wheelchair or other assistive devices
- Anticipated future medical costs such as the need for a ventilator, catheter, and home health care aides
- Loss of income from the time you were unable to work while being treated for your injuries
- Loss of future earning potential, if your paralysis will prevent you from returning to work or force you to seek different employment
- Pain and suffering, including the emotional trauma associated with adjusting to your paralysis
Louisiana law allows you to file a personal injury claim even if you were determined to be partially at fault for the accident. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
Personal injury claims involving paralysis can result in substantial monetary settlements, but insurance companies are often reluctant to offer a settlement that will adequately meet your needs. A skilled attorney can line up documentation to support the extent of your injuries, as well as expert testimony to provide an accurate estimate of your future medical needs and lost earning potential.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s legal team helps Louisiana residents who've been injured due to the negligence of others receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free case review at one of our six convenient office locations throughout the state.