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What Are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries


  • The type of spinal cord injury is often determined by severity and location on the spine.
  • Spinal cord injuries damage the connection between the brain and body, which often has serious consequences for the lives of survivors.
  • Survivors of spinal cord injuries are often left facing enormous medical bills and other financial challenges, on top of the serious physical and emotional impact of the injury.
  • Working with an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

The spinal cord is a crucial component of our central nervous system, responsible for connecting the brain to the movement and sensation of the body. Injuries to this important system can be uniquely devastating, altering lives in profound ways. There are several types of spinal cord injuries, each with its own implications.

If you or a loved one is dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial impact of a spinal cord injury, the last thing on your mind is negotiating with insurance companies and navigating the legal system. Unfortunately, this may be necessary to secure the compensation you need to treat the damage to your spinal cord and rebuild your life.

Let the experienced spinal cord injury lawyers at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia represent your interests in a personal injury claim. Our team will be responsible for defending your rights while you focus on healing from your spinal cord injury. You can contact us online or call us at (800) 320-HELP.

Understanding the Main Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves running from the brain to the lower back that serves as the bridge between your mind and the rest of your body. When you feel sensations from your body or tell your body to move, that information travels along the spinal cord.

When that delicate and crucial structure is injured, the consequences can be devastating. SCIs sustained in car crashes or other accidents caused by negligent behavior often limit a survivor’s quality of life.

Complete vs Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

All spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, can be divided into one of two categories: complete or incomplete.

In a complete spinal cord injury, the spine is totally severed, resulting in the total loss of sensory and motor function below the injury site. This would be labeled a catastrophic injury in personal injury law terms.

Conversely, in an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is only partially damaged, allowing some function to remain. This remaining function is sometimes localized in the front, back, left, or right side of the body, depending on which part of the spine is injured.

Classification of Injury by Spinal Level

Spinal cord injuries are also classified by level. This refers to where the injury is located along the spine.

  • Sacral SCIs are located in the base of the spine
  • Lumbar SCIs are located in the lower back
  • Thoracic SCIs are located in the upper back
  • Cervical SCIs are located in the neck

The level of a spinal cord injury determines how much of the body is affected. Typically, that means everything below the injury is impacted. For instance, a lumbar SCI may only affect the legs and pelvis. In contrast, a cervical SCI can result in total paralysis.

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Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries result from serious accidents involving enough force to damage the spinal cord through the vertebrae. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the top causes of SCIs in America are:

  • Automobile accidents (31.5%)
  • Falls (25.3%)
  • Gunshot wounds (10.4%)
  • Motorcycle crashes (6.8%)
  • Diving accidents (4.7%)
  • Complications from surgery (4.3%)

Car accidents and falls are by far the most common causes, together accounting for over half of all spinal cord injuries. Car accidents are the most common cause of SCIs in people under 45, after which the most common cause is falling. Notably, spinal cord injuries are also one of the most common injuries caused by truck accidents.

Impact of Spinal Cord Injury on Daily Life

Spinal cord injuries are devastating and life-changing. Very few victims of SCIs make a full recovery. Most experience permanent challenges such as chronic pain or paralysis.

These injuries have a massive impact on quality of life. People with SCIs may suffer a loss of independence. For example, it is not uncommon for SCI survivors to need assistance to live day-to-day, and they may not be able to continue hobbies or careers that they previously enjoyed.

Spinal cord injuries are also incredibly expensive to treat. Accordingly, the cost of a spinal cord injury is often hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical bills alone. The financial burden, along with the emotional toll, can be overwhelming for victims of SCIs and their families.

Compensation for Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

SCIs are catastrophic injuries that impact every aspect of the victim’s life. The medical costs involved are staggering on their own. Additionally, individuals with spinal cord injuries are often unable to work and may require in-home care.

As a recognition of the unique impact of SCIs, the settlements for victims are often much larger than other types of accidents.

Economic damages covered in spinal cord injury settlements can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Costs of ongoing care
  • Lost wages

Non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Other impacts on quality of life

Remember, compensation can depend on factors like age and earning potential. Every case is different, so it’s important to consult with a neck and back injury attorney for a personalized evaluation of your potential claim.

How a WHG Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Maximize Your Compensation

Pursuing compensation for your spinal cord injury can seem like a daunting task. Additionally, the physical and emotional toll of your spinal cord injury can make the situation even more burdensome.

An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can be a valuable ally in a difficult time. At WHG, our skilled team of personal injury attorneys can help you by:

  • Assessing your spinal cord claim to establish who was negligent and what your damages are worth
  • Securing enough evidence to make a compelling claim for maximum compensation
  • Keeping up with various administrative duties
  • Negotiating your spinal cord injury claim with the goal of reaching a reasonable resolution with the insurance company
  • Advocating on your behalf if we need to bring your spinal cord injury lawsuit to court

The capable team at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is ready to help negotiate a settlement that covers your damages. We understand what you’re going through. The neck and back injury lawyers of WHG are determined to use our skills and experience to secure the compensation you deserve.

Reach out to our team of spinal cord injury attorneys at WHG to schedule a free consultation. We encourage you to contact us online or call us at (800) 320-4357.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have to file a claim for my spinal cord injury?

The statute of limitations for spinal cord injury claims depends on the state. For example, Florida law stipulates that plaintiffs have two years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury claim.

WHG offers personalized case evaluations for accident victims suffering from various types of spinal cord injuries. Our team can help you keep track of deadlines and other key requirements.

What if I injured my spinal cord at work?

Following an on-the-job accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your spinal cord injury. These benefits can be crucial for covering medical bills and lost wages.

However, workers’ compensation law may limit your ability to recover the compensation you truly deserve. Consider working with an experienced back injury workers’ compensation lawyer for help.

What is the likelihood of my spinal cord injury lawsuit going to trial?

It’s rare for a personal injury claim to go to trial, but it does happen. If the representatives of the defendant and your spinal cord injury lawyer can’t reach a compromise on a settlement, you may need to be prepared for the trial process for your personal injury lawsuit.

No Win, No Fee Commitment

Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is committed to helping you rebuild your life after a hardship. We are not just your legal team—we are your allies, your partners, and your advocates. We will do everything we can to handle your case with compassion and care, and to get you the results you need!

“And for every fight we take on, know this…we are doing everything we can to make sure we win!”

— Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia

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About the Author

Adam Werner is a partner and practicing attorney at WHG. He specializes in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims, and veteran disability benefits. He routinely writes about personal injury and workers comp topics for the Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia blog

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